A gratitude journal is, perhaps, the easiest type of journal to start and to keep up consistently. It can be as simple as writing out three to five things you’re grateful for at the beginning or the end of every day. It’s a way to count your blessings without any type of religious or spiritual agenda… just you and your pen acknowledging what’s good in your life.
There are definite benefits cultivating an attitude of gratitude. According to this article, studies have shown that gratitude:
- Opens you up to more and better relationships
- Has definite health benefits
- Enhances empathy
- Helps you sleep better
- Improves self-esteem
- Increases mental strength
If that’s what thinking about be grateful can do for you, how much more benefit will you get from the focused act of writing down what you’re grateful for.
How a gratitude journal benefits mental health
One of the main reasons people start a gratitude journal is to work through mental health issues they may be dealing with. As leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons notes, gratitude can help release toxic and negative emotions, leaving you feeling happier and less depressed. (source)
You can start small by listing one thing a day you are thankful for. if you feel that there is nothing good in your life, you might think it’s hard to find something to be grateful for. But, by recording even one thing that you’re grateful for – it could be as simple as being grateful for a cup of coffee in the morning – you’ve started a positive flow of energy. And when you’re feeling really down and like the whole world is against you, your gratitude journal can serve as a reminder that there are good things in your life.
How a gratitude journal benefits physical health
In addition to the benefits to mental health, practicing gratitude also has direct benefits on your physical health. In one study people who were asked to use a gratitude journal for three weeks were found to have lower blood pressure and a better immune system. (source)
That same article also quotes Emmons as saying that “People who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary fat intake — as much as 25 percent lower. Stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people. And having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of aging to the brain.” (source)
Those seem like pretty great reasons to keep a gratitude journal to me.
How a gratitude journal increases positivity
Using a gratitude journal increases positivity because you’re focused on it. The law of attraction states that what you focus on is what you get, so as you intentionally look for things to be grateful for, you find more things to be grateful for.
With all that goodness flowing your way, you don’t have time to dwell on negative thoughts. And indeed, gratitude and negativity can’t exist in the same space so you don’t have any choice but to have a more positive outlook.
Your gratitude journal can be a simple or as complex as you want to make it. My own gratitude practice is to list five things I am grateful for in my bullet journal as soon as I wake up in the morning.
All you need to do is find the one good thing in your day no matter how bad the rest of it might be, and record that. Focusing on that one positive thing will help to improve your life in many ways.