What is a Gratitude Journal?
A gratitude journal is created through the practice or habit of regularly noticing the things you’re grateful for and writing them down.
Practicing gratitude isn’t just a logical thinking task. It should also be an emotional and physiological experience. Writing your feelings down is key.
Why Do We Need Gratitude in Our Lives?
Are you familiar with the saying, ‘thoughts create energy and attention flows to where energy goes’?
While working with difficult thoughts is essential to process and change them, it’s also important to practice gratitude. When I created the CBT Journal, I was aware I’d be asking people to focus their minds on difficult experiences and unhelpful patterns of thinking. As an antidote to this, and to correct the negative bias, I included a gratitude section for people to complete each day.
As the quote below illustrates, there’s always something to be grateful for.
‘If you are reading this article, that means you have access to either a computer, a laptop or a smart phone. You have electricity. You have a connection to the Internet. If you know where your next meal is coming from and you don’t have to worry about getting clean water, having shelter over your head and accessing medical care, you benefit from more wealth than many people throughout human history.’ – Jesse Carey, ‘8 Stats that Will Change the Way You Think About Wealth’.
Noticing what we’re grateful for each day allows the feeling of gratitude to land in our bodies, strengthening the positive emotion muscles in our brains. It’s also a form of mindfulness that slows and settles your thoughts, enabling you to access positive emotional states and think more broadly.
How Can a Gratitude Journal Support My Mental Health?
Have you ever noticed how much your mindset can affect how you think, feel and act?
When your first thought in the morning is a negative one like ‘I’ve not had enough sleep’, it’s easy for things to domino and get worse throughout the day. Your commute becomes a chore, you have less patience at work, and by the time you get home you’re feeling pretty low.
When you start the day writing in your gratitude journal, you’re building an abundance mindset. As well as noticing and appreciating what you already have, you’re also likely to attract more abundance into your life.
Writing a gratitude journal can also:
- Lift your mood
- Reduce anxiety
- Help you get through difficult or challenging times
- Build better relationships and feel more connected to the people around you because you feel grateful for their presence
- Reduce cortisol levels which improves physical health and immunity
- Induce a calm, soothing state
- Improve sleep and relaxation
- Make it easier to access positive memories in the future. Instead of skipping past each moment, you’ll learn to stop, appreciate, and feel grateful, making you feel more fulfilled, sustained and emotionally resilient.
Nature, Beauty, Gratitude – Louie Schwartzberg is a cinematographer, director and producer. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.