How to keep a Gratitude Journal and why it’s important

How to keep a Gratitude Journal and why it’s important

Sitting in bed 10 minutes before I am meant to go sleep with a beautiful new book on my lap full of blank pages and again, I am a little stumped as to what exactly I am meant to write….

I am tired and can’t stop thinking about all the things I didn’t do today and have to do tomorrow and also the ending of my latest Netflix series.

Bullet journal, dream journal, food journal. Whatever kind you choose to keep, as I have gotten older I have realized that the need for a journal is above all else, an opportunity to document our lives.

So why do some of us find it so hard to keep a journal…consistently….and why gratitude?

Let’s talk about a couple of the benefits of keeping a Gratitude Journal.

  1. It is quicker to jot down a couple of things that you are thankful for instead of keeping a stream of consciousness journal like we use to when we were young, think: “Dear Diary”.
  2. We can choose if we want to write 5, 3 or 1 thing that we are grateful for. We can actually choose! And we can choose when we write in it.
  3. It will make you appreciate the small things in your life more because it is so easy to complain but to show gratitude takes a pause and will change your perception if done regularly.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons why we still have not filled in those little books

  1. We have to buy the book that is just right!

I have read in quite a few articles that the way to start is to buy an artsy looking kind of book that will “make you want to write in it”.

The reason I don’t love this is because once you have the book that you spent a bit of bucks on, you only want to write in perfect beautiful cursive and not scratch anything out… it becomes more about the look of the book and how your writing looks rather than actually using the book for what it is meant for.

  1. We have to write every night or it has to be at a certain time.

While I agree that it does help for there to be some sort of routine when you write… it shouldn’t have to be every night after the house is clean and all the chores are done… Or so early in the morning before your brain has switched on- unless that works for you- then write away!

Pick a time that is convenient for you, maybe when you have had a little time to unwind and release the day… What I like to do is play a little music, listen to a meditation or do a few rounds of breath work to clear the day and my mind in order to be present for this little, but very important, task.

What can we do to start today?

  1. How likely are you to write in your gratitude journal every single day?

Unless your life is exactly the same every single day and you have a zen-like focus on all your tasks, not likely.

Start with saying to yourself “I will write in my gratitude journal for 10 minutes every day”.

How did that feel to you? On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being a nope and 10 being most likely). Whittle it down till you get to a number of days and amount of minutes that feels stupidly doable to you. For me, for example, its 5 minutes once a week. Sounds like a little but imagine if you commit to that stupidly doable number. In a year that is 4 hours where you might not have consciously expressed gratitude if you had not committed to those 5 minutes.

  1. Create a space for gratitude.

It is very challenging to come home from your working life and immediately open your book and start to write down all the things you are grateful for. You need time to calm the mind, relax the body and go inward. To create the space and ask yourself what environment you need to take those 5 minutes.

Do you need a candle? A light meditation? A nice bath? A few rounds of breath work? And in the beginning, even if it feels a bit silly and like you could get up and go pack those dishes away. Try to stay with it….soon it will become an automatic action that will become part of your life.

  1. Take gratitude into your everyday life

Even though we are talking about an actual journal, for gratitude to become part of your life, it has to be something that you conscientiously do every day. So message a friend who you have not chatted to for a while, tell a colleague that you are grateful for the joy they bring to your day or thank your partner for making your coffee this morning.

  1. Go easy on yourself

Do not box yourself….do not limit yourself and think that this process has to be perfect or it will be fruitless. Just like exercise, meditation and all the other wonderful things that make life interesting and allows us to grow, it is something that you need to keep coming back to, as much as you can.

At the end of the day, nothing will ever be perfect and the mere act of returning to a habit that we are trying to instil in ourselves and trying again even when it is not going smoothly or consistently is the very essence of change. We should congratulate ourselves on every small victory.

Happy journaling!

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Robyn MacGregor

Robyn is a yoga teacher and full-time holder of a normal job. She has always felt that there is more to our human condition than what we reveal on the surface and that nothing is black and white. She writes and teaches because she needs to evolve and learn about herself and feels that sometimes we can only do this when we do it for others.

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