Keeping a gratitude journal is the best way to cultivate an attitude of appreciation. And there's a strong link between feeling gratitude and having more things to be grateful for show up in your life.
It’s been well documented that happy people are more successful in general than unhappy people. And simply put, being grateful is the fastest path to becoming happy and satisfied with your life.
Gratitude allows you to feel good BEFORE your desired result shows up in your life… so even when things are are looking bleak, cultivating a grateful attitude can shift you to a more positive outlook, which in turn lightens you up and allows you to be more in touch with your free spirit.
In our busy world, where there is often a negative bias, being grateful just for what is, is largely overlooked.
But if you start to record your gratitude on a daily basis you’ll begin to notice just how many things you have to be thankful for.
When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears
- Tony Robbins -
Of course, it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, we all know that. When you’re happy and everything is going your way you'll effortlessly find the space in your heart to feel grateful and your gratitude journal will be overflowing with the reasons why.
But what happens when the wheels fall off? If things seem to be going downhill, and you find yourself struggling, it may be difficult to see anything good at all.
According to Robert A Emmons, Ph.D., (the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude), feeling grateful in these circumstances may be challenging, but being grateful is still possible. In fact, more than that, it's highly beneficial.
He goes on to say that the difference between feeling and being grateful is that feeling grateful is the direct result of a benefit, whereas being grateful is a way of life.
In other words, those ‘feel good’ feelings of gratitude we have when something good happens are great, but actually developing a grateful attitude to life has a far bigger impact.
Cultivating Gratitude Shifts Your Outlook From:
Seeing scarcity everywhere to seeing abundance
Noticing what life denies you to noticing what life offers
Feeling deprived to a feeling of satisfaction
Feeling alone to feeling connected to the world around you
And so we come to the ‘how’. How do you connect with everything you have to be grateful for?
Enter..... The Gratitude Journal!
Recording reasons for being grateful does many things, but two important benefits stand out:
In the long term it changes the way you perceive life. And by writing down all the things you notice it starts to build your belief that if bad things happen, there are still things to be grateful for, and that even bad experiences offer reasons to be grateful.
You might realize that being retrenched, whilst a devastating blow at the time, gave you the push to do something you'd always wanted to do, like change careers, or start your own business or backpack around the world (why not?!). Something that you probably would never have done if you'd still had the security of your old job.
Your gratitude journal will also serve as a pick-me-up when you're feeling down. Reading back through old entries will remind you there is much to feel appreciation for in your life
Often when you sit down to write the first time, writers block hits! You can’t think of one thing to write. So here are some tips to help you get started.
Remember, your entries do not have be life changing. Just little things that popped up during your day that made you smile, feel glad and lightened your heart in some way.
In the end, whatever you write, one of the most important aspects is that you are being genuine and not just putting anything down so you can put a tick in the box that says 'Write In Gratitude Journal'.
Be authentic when you write in your journal – don’t just write any old thing down so you’ve fulfilled your obligation.
Before you even start, make a conscious decision to be more grateful and to take note of nice things that you see or that happen to you during the day.
Don’t force yourself to write a certain number of things. Feeling you have to write a minimum of 5 things can ruin the experience because you feel pressured to come up with something. Some days you may only think of one thing, but the next day you may come up with 10.
If you feel motivated to do so, write some details. For instance instead of just writing ‘I’m grateful for my dog’ I wrote ‘I’m grateful for how Finn makes me smile by stealing shoes and socks and depositing them under the tree completely unharmed… like his little collection of treasures’. Whenever I read that it brings that warm feeling of gratitude to me all over again.
It can also help to write any insights that come up when recording your gratitude. For instance if you realize you’ve always taken someone or something for granted before – note it down.
If something bad happens during the day, you probably think you shouldn't write about that in your gratitude journal. But if you look closely, you'll see that maybe something positive came out of it. For example, being late for work is frustrating, but if by doing so you were still on the bus when the thunderstorm broke, be grateful for being able to get to work dry!
It doesn't matter how small it seems. If someone smiled at you while you were walking the dog and it made you feel good - write it in your gratitude journal.
You can do more than write in your journal. You can draw a little picture, stick a nice note in that you received from someone, a photo or the receipt for the pedicure you treated yourself to.
Random acts of kindness that you experience are really powerful. I once bought a take away coffee and didn’t have enough change to pay cash, so I went to use my card. The woman behind the checkout reached into the tip jar and took out the 20c that I was short so I didn’t have to bother with the card. I know it was only a tiny amount, but the fact that someone would use their tip money just to make my life a little easier I found so uplifting. It made me feel great for the rest of the day! I also leave them bigger tips now :)
You don’t have to be directly involved to be grateful for something. Anything that makes you happy, like the bird singing in a tree in the garden, or seeing someone help an elderly person in the supermarket - into the gratitude journal it goes!
Expressing gratitude obviously exists outside of your journal as well. I have friends who make sure that dinner is a family affair and before they eat, each person has to tell the table one thing they’re grateful for that day.
Apparently the first night they did it they had to think hard, but by the end of the first week everyone was buzzing with what they were going to share at the table that night. What a great way to end the day!
If you write in your gratitude journal regularly, you’ll notice in a relatively short space of time that your attitudes start to change. And as that happens you begin to notice that you have more positive experiences – or do you?
Perhaps they were always there, but you just didn’t notice them before...
So - it's your turn now. Get started with your gratitude journal as soon as you can - you may be amazed at just how many wonderful things are happening around you every day!
New! CommentsHave your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.