Gratitude is at the heart of mindfulness – if you read any mindfulness book or go to any mindfulness class, you can bet they will spend a fair chunk of time talking about gratitude. This is because when we are grateful we are truly in the present moment, and practicing gratitude helps us to bring our attention to the positive in our lives. Keeping a gratitude journal has become a popular way to practice gratitude. In this blog we’ve answered some questions you might have about gratitude journaling – from what it is, to how to get started.
I’m new to gratitude journaling. What is it all about?
Gratitude journaling is really what it says on the tin – setting aside some time to reflect on what you are grateful for and writing about it in a journal.
What are the benefits of doing it?
There are many benefits of gratitude journaling. It leads to a greater sense of calm, happiness and wellbeing, and also helps to promote resilience and to stop our negative thoughts from leading us in a downward spiral.
How often should I do it?
We think three times a week is a good number to aim for, but if you find that daily works for you, go for it. The most important thing is to be consistent, but at the same time, don’t punish yourself if you don’t manage to write for a few days as this is counterproductive.
Can I write about negative things as well as positive?
Absolutely! But only if we are genuinely grateful for the experience. Sometimes seeing the positive that comes from a negative event or situation can take a while. It’s something important to look for if you can – perhaps you learned an important lesson, or the situation helped you to grow as a person.
What should I write about?
Anything you feel grateful for! It could be something small like your morning coffee or the muffins your colleague brought to work, or something big like your husband getting a promotion. Each time you write try and make one of the things you are grateful for in some way connected to a person – this has shown to have greater benefits than writing about material things.
How much should I write?
There’s no right answer to this really, it’s whatever works best for you. Maybe start with five things you are grateful for. You don’t want to write a long essay, but it’s important to be relatively detailed about each thing, otherwise it just becomes a list rather than a journal. Try to make a short statement of how whatever you have noted makes you feel.
When should I write?
It doesn’t matter when in the day you write. Some people like to do it in the morning to start their day with something positive, whereas others find just before bed is a good time to reflect on what they have been grateful for through the day. You can write in your journal whenever best suits your routine.
How long should I spend on the journal when I write?
This depends on you, but we think 10 minutes is a good time. It’s great if you don’t have to rush. If you allow yourself the time to think and reflect and really feel the gratitude, you will feel the benefits of the exercise most strongly. But it’s also important that it’s short enough that you will have the time to do it often and consistently. And if sometimes you only have time to simply list 3 things, that will at least put the positive into your mind.
Do I need to buy a fancy journal?
No, you don’t. Don’t let the stationery companies fool you. Although we do sometimes find that having a nice pad helps people to look forward to writing, this is by no means a necessity – the most important part of the exercise is reflecting on what you are grateful for.
I’m stuck and I don’t know what to write. Any ideas?
It can be difficult to think of things to write about when you first start journaling. Here are some ideas to start off with:
– Skills you have
– People in your life
– Your hobbies or pastimes
– A challenge in your life that you are dealing with well
– An accomplishment
– Places you visit
– Where you live
– Lessons you’ve learned
We hope this has been useful if you have been thinking about getting started with gratitude journaling. As always, if you have any questions or want to talk about this with someone in our team, please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org