Keeping a gratitude journal is an effective technique to build your sense of appreciation of life. It’s based on the principle that what you focus on expands. Being consciously bringing your attention to the blessings in your life, you become more aware of the blessings around you. People who have consistently kept gratitude journals (for at least 6 week or longer) have reported increased levels of happiness and a greater sense of well being.
Here are some tips on doing a gratitude journal:
Consistency is important.
In studies on the effectiveness of gratitude journals, consistency turns out to be the most important characteristic. Write in your journal daily. There is some advantage to doing your journal at the end of the day so that you take those grateful thoughts with you into sleep; however, it’s more important to have a daily practice than what time it happens. So if morning or mid-afternoon is best for you, that’s just fine.
Use a format that works.
The usual format for a gratitude journal is to write down 3 – 5 things that you are grateful for that day. Just like timing, choose a format that works for you. Some people like to create a running list of things they are grateful for. Each day they add a few things, but don’t repeat items that are already on the list. You could also write a serious of thank you notes in your journal – not ones that you actually send. You could express thanks to real, unknown or imaginary people for their impact on you that day. Be creative. How best can you capture your blessings each day?
Explore the full range of blessings.
Blessings are blessings. They come in all shapes and sizes. Avoid placing judgment on some things by thinking they are trivial or material. Feel free to include the full range of blessings in your gratitude journal – everything from warm socks or dark chocolate to loved ones and health.
Expand beyond words.
When we think of journals we usually think in words. You can also include in your gratitude journal other things like photos, clippings, drawings, quotations or ticket stubs. Use your imagination and let your journal become a visual and tactile playground of blessings.
Capture giving and receiving.
Usually people focus on the blessings they have received in their lives – what is cherished, successes and accomplishments. Remember to also consider what you give to the world. What about you are you grateful for? What are your unique skills, abilities and talents do you share with others? What contributions or impact do you make?
Laurel Vespi is a certified life coach, award winning author and the real fabulous woman behind stone circle coaching. She loves working with other women to discover more joy, balance and purpose in their lives. www.stonecirclecoaching.com