The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become
– Robert Holden
Here are 5 things I learned while keeping a daily gratitude journal for a few months. I will be completely honest and say I have become slack over the past few weeks as life has gotten in the way but as today is Monday there is no better day than to start getting back into it!
Just a wee heads up, this post contains affiliate links which may reward me in the event of a sale (at no extra cost to you). It helps fund my chocolate addiction. I need help with this addiction so any money should probably go to helping me overcome my chocolate addiction, not fund it.
Never let the things you want stand in the way of the things that you have
Without further ado, I present to you, in no particular order (hence no numbers!), 5 ways why keeping a gratitude journal rocks:
Become more aware of the small joys of life
Keeping a gratitude journal makes you more aware of the small things in life that makes you happy.
- Hearing your favourite song on the radio on the drive home.
- The way your new lipstick makes you feel.
- Getting through your kitchen shift without accidentally burning yourself. Just me?
- Seeing the first lambs of spring
When you focus on the small joys of life you start focusing on the here and now. Not the ever moving goal of ‘happiness’. That isn’t attainable. Happiness isn’t an end destination. It is a state of mind.
End the day on a positive note (or start the day, depending on when you write)
By ending (or starting) your day with the things that you are grateful for, you are ending the day focusing on the positive things that happened. If you write at night, just before you go to sleep, your last thoughts are of all the good things that happened that day. If that isn’t a great way to end the day, I don’t know what is. Well, wine is a great way to end the day, but not advisable every night.
Become more present in your daily life
Do you ever feel like you are just going through the motions daily, not really present? A gratitude journal is a way of actively being present in your daily life. After writing in my journal for a few weeks, I started to become more mindful throughout the day of the positive things that happened as they happened. If someone paid a compliment I was more likely to hold on to it. If I saw the first lambs of spring, I was more aware.
Start to focus on the positives rather than the negatives
In the daily grind, it is easy to focus on the negative things. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough money. Work was busy today. My feet ache.
There are lots of I don’ts and I wants. It is easy to place the blame for feeling crappy on external factors. Gratitude is a very internal quality, it relies on our mindset. It takes time to become grateful every day but you will get there. Once you practice gratitude daily it becomes a habit to look for the positives in life. “My feet ache but I had a really productive day at work” “I don’t have enough money for that big trip, but I have more than others”
Soon realise that actually, you have a pretty cool life
When you focus on the good and the positive you soon realise that you actually have a pretty amazing life. The little things can get overlooked for want of the biggest things. But it is not the biggest things that make up daily life, they are just the bonuses. It is the little things that make everyday life enjoyable
- Catching the snow on your tongue
- Stamping in puddles
- Hearing the crunch of leaves underfoot
- A smile from a stranger
- Having a laugh with a coworker
- Dancing with abandon to loud music
- Enjoying your favourite TV show under a comfy blanket with the cat on your foot
Gratitude turns what we have into enough
– Melody Beattie
Tips + Tricks for keeping a gratitude journal
- Some people find writing when they first wake up easiest but I personally found it better for me writing at night just before I turned the lights out. This was so that I could reflect on the day just after it happened rather than still thick from sleep the next morning. Plus trying to find something to be grateful for that day before the day has started can be a bit tricky. Find a time that suits you best
- Try writing at the same time each day, this way it becomes a routine.
- There are many types of journals out there. Some are more rigid and others a bit more flexible. Find one that suits you and that you will be motivated to write in every day. Mine has colouring pages every few pages. I like this as it lets me colour while my mind wanders. It is quite theraputic.
- Try getting some colourful pens and write each day in a different colour. An unintentional pattern emerged from the colours I used that reflected my moods. I noticed that I tended to use bright colours when I was feeling happy, when I was feeling down I used blues and black. You may find this as well or you may find that you just enjoy using different colours to make your journal look more appealing to you.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, it’s not homework and nothing bad will happen if you miss a day. Life happens.
- Keep your journal somewhere where you will see it so you are reminded of all the things you have been grateful for. Plus it will help remind you to use it!
- Buy a journal that is aesthetically pleasing to you. Something that you love and that is your style. It is going to become your friend over time.
- Stick to three to five things a day to be grateful for, you will be clutching at straws otherwise. You want to be as authentic as possible and not just write things because you are filling up the page.
This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.
– Maya Angelou
Don’t have a journal? Here are some beautiful affordable ones you can purchase
The following list is just a small sample of various gratitude journals that you can find online. There are so many out there that vary in price, size, aesthetics, style and so on. Shop around until you find one you fall in love with.
- The one-minute gratitude journal is a simple, clean journal designed to be used in minimal time. It doesn’t have weeks or dates so you don’t need to stress if you miss a day. Each page has an inspirational quote and there are pages where you can doodle. “Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation for what one has. Write down three to five things you are grateful for in this journal and turn your ordinary moments into blessings”
- Gratitude: A journal is another simple journal. This journal has more room than the previous one and also contains daily inspirational quotes. “Keep a daily record of life’s little blessings with this keepsake gratitude journal filled with a year’s worth of insightful prompts, inspiring quotes, and ample room for reflecting on all the things that make life great”
- Good days start with gratitude: a 52-week guide to cultivate an attitude of gratitude: a gratitude journal. This journal is set out in weekly spreads, each week has an inspirational quote and space to write a weekly checkpoint. The only downside of this journal is that if you miss a day you will see the blank spaces staring accusingly at you. Though, this may provide motivation to fill them all in.
- Tiny Buddha’s gratitude journal is a 102-page book that is a smaller size so will easily fit in your handbag. It has daily questions or prompts to help you reflect on your day and what is worth appreciating.
- Awesome Inc (non affiliate link) is where my gratitude journal is from. I love it! It has a daily quote or to-do, pages for colouring, a mood meter and daily “I am…” as well as plenty of space to write what you are grateful for that day.
What are your thoughts on keeping a gratitude journal? Do you have any tips to add? What have you learned from keeping one? Let me know in the comments