We have all heard about the 'attitude of gratitude' and how we're 'supposed' to think positive thoughts. But how on earth do you do it? How do you take the 'stuff' that life throws your way and turn it into smiles instead of sulking? Here are 10 reasons why you might want to use a gratitude journal to help you with all of this - and why you'll want to make a start today.
A gratitude journal can be an elaborate book with a beautiful cover, or it can be a simple notebook, it doesn't really matter. What counts is that you write in it regularly - and keep it somewhere that you can review it, whenever you want to. Here are 10 reasons to keep a gratitude journal - and how it can change your life, starting today!
- It's fun! Keeping a gratitude journal is fun! Just imagine doing it every day for a year and then looking back to experience the great stuff that happened in your life! Sure that's worth a few minutes of your time, each day?
- Your body feels every thought you think. Whether you're living in a stressful situation or just thinking back to one, your body doesn't notice the difference. It will still fire off all of those stress hormones and create the same physical, mental and emotional tension, whether or not the event is currently happening. So how about spending time getting it to fire off happy hormones, instead?
- It can help you sleep better - and dream happier! Psychologists have proven that our thoughts, as we fall asleep, set the tone for at least the next four hours of dreaming. Surely it's better to spend the night dreaming about things that make you feel good, rather than reliving your worries and stresses?
- It can change the way you think. When you decide to keep a gratitude journal, you are making a commitment to yourself, to turn your Monkey Mind's thought habits towards conversations that inspire you, instead of grumbling and criticising.
- It builds up your strength, for when things don't go so well. Gratitude can be thought of as being a mental and emotional 'muscle' which you can build up with daily exercise. If stuff goes wrong in life and your gratitude muscle is weak, you'll struggle to find a silver lining in those storm clouds. But if you already have a strong daily gratitude habit, then your gratitude muscle will be resilient and well-trained, meaning life's challenges don't knock you off course as much.
- It can turn you into an optimist. Having a generally optimistic attitude towards life has been shown to cut your stress levels and to improve your physical, mental and emotional health.By consciously looking for what is going well in your life, you are training yourself to have a more positive outlook.
- It can help with 'emotional first aid'. When 'stuff happens', it can be difficult to keep things in perspective and it's all too easy to drown in the drama of the stories your Monkey Mind is telling. Your gratitude journal give you back your perspective and help you to more easily handle whatever is going on for you.
- You can see what's great, not just what's gone wrong. If you have a long-term habit of letting your Monkey Minds grumble and gripe, then it becomes a world expert in pointing out everything that is bad and wrong and broken in our lives - and the wider world. Keeping a daily gratitude journal helps you to rebalance this, by also being able to see what is good and right and wonderful in our day-to-day experience of life.
- It helps you let go of old limiting beliefs. We tend to see what we expect in life - and what we expect is limited by our beliefs about what is possible and likely to happen. These beliefs work as a filter in your brain, passing through evidence to support them and rejecting evidence that would contradict them. If you use your gratitude journal to deliberately write down examples of "life being good" and "I feel happy", then over time old limiting beliefs will melt away.
- And finally... starting a gratitude journal is something that the 'future you' will thank you for! Imagine zooming ten or twenty years into your future, having kept a gratitude journal for all of that time. Do you think that the future you will be a different person to the one you are today? Do you think they might feel happier? Less stressed? More positive? Healthier? More vibrant? Generally more fun to be around? Or do you think they'll tell you that they wish you had never taken the time to spend a few minutes a day on gratitude and that they wish you had stayed stuck feeling stressed, miserable and grumpy? How about taking the first steps towards that 'future you' today - and starting your gratitude journal?
How To Start Your Gratitude Journal?
You can choose any notebook for your gratitude journal, but most people like to choose one that feels special. So you could go and buy one in your local store - or order one online. Then choose to write (or draw pictures) of 3-5 things you feel grateful for - ideally every day.
The main thing is that you make the decision to get started - and that you take some action.