When something goes wrong in life, the typical reaction is to think, “Wow, I’m unlucky” or, “Why does bad stuff always happen to me and nothing good ever happens?” It’s a vicious cycle and a very toxic way of thinking. So how do you overcome that feeling of dread when your world is crumbling and you struggle to see a bright side?
I’ve decided to start a new series of blog posts on staying positive. So welcome to the first one in the series! This one will focus on gratitude journaling: what it is, why it’s important, how it can help you stay positive, and how to get started.
I’ll admit I’ve grown accustomed to things not always going as planned, and it’s something I used to struggle with. I used to become easily upset or frustrated and sometimes even angry, all of which are common emotions to have when something negative happens to you, and are completely okay to have. But over time, I’ve learned to start looking on the bright side of situations instead of dwelling only on the negative.
One thing that really helped me do that was a gratitude journal: a place to write down what I’m grateful for each day. It sounds simple enough, right? That’s because it is.
I can’t remember exactly what it was that inspired me to start a gratitude journal. I wish I could, because it’s something I’ve learned to adapt into my daily routine that really makes a big impact on my mood and how I handle new situations that aren’t always what I anticipated. I started using this tactic back in November of last year… so it’s still fairly new to me, but I can see a drastic change in how I react to negative events in my life.
So what exactly is a gratitude journal?
A gratitude journal is essentially a place for you to keep a short list of what you were grateful for each day. Whether you choose to keep this in a notebook, in your daily planner, in a note on your phone… it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you give it a try and start looking on the bright side of each and every day!
Why do you need one?
The benefits of gratitude are endless. This article talks about a study where it found that after participants used a gratitude journal for a few weeks, they felt more joyful, energetic, determined, and strong! Not only that, but they also felt more connected in their personal relationships and more willing to offer emotional support to others.
How do you get started?
As I mentioned, you can keep your gratitude journal anywhere you’d like. I have the Day One app on my phone (which I talked about in my previous post) and made a separate journal called “gratitude,” but you can keep it in your phone’s Notes app (FYI – you can make a folder in your notes app called gratitude to keep it more organized)!
I made a gratitude journal for my mom to keep and just took a blank notebook and at the top of the page, got her started by writing the date and the line, “Today I’m Grateful For…” and that method works for her! So it’s really up to you on what works best. Just remember to keep the notebook in a location where you’ll remember to write in it every day. I set a reminder on my phone that says “Gratitude” at the end of each day and I log into my journal app and jot down what happened that I’m grateful for.
I hope this hasn’t intimidated you yet, because now I’m going to give you some tips on what kind of stuff to include when you get started. I’ll admit, when I first began writing in it daily, I was staring at my phone thinking to myself… but nothing good happened today. But I was wrong. Very wrong.
When you’re writing, include even the smallest things that made you smile or made you feel better. To help you get some ideas of how small, here’s my very first post in my gratitude journal:
Today I’m Grateful For…
- Writing the first chapter of a story I’ve been meaning to start
- Getting my hair cut, it feels healthier now
- My new smart lightbulb because I made it orange, which is supposed to help improve my focus and creativity while I write
- Starting this gratitude journal
- Remembering to meditate this morning
- Hanging up Christmas lights to make my place more cheerful
- My raspberries I ate as a snack were perfectly sweet and not bitter at all
See how I included the simplest things? Yes, I wrote that my raspberries tasted good. Because it was something small that made me happy! This is a great example of how you can always find a small bit of each day that was positive.
Keep in mind, you can put as many bullets as you’d like. I’ve had days where I only was able to write, “Today I’m grateful for the fact that so and so smiled at me and made me feel better when nobody noticed I was upset.” It’s. The. Small. Things. That. Matter.
I hope this post helps inspire you to give gratitude journaling a shot. After all, you have nothing to lose! I challenge you to try it for at least two weeks then comment and let me know how it has impacted your mood.
For those who already use a gratitude journal, what other tips do you have for those who are getting started? I’d love to hear your ideas!