Almost whatever you want it to be! It doesn’t need a fancy new notebook or that beautiful £45 gratitude planner you saw on your IG ads (unless you want it to be), it can be scraps of paper or a standard diary, because what it is, ultimately is a tool to keep track of the good things in life. And the bad things, but the good things about the bad things – for even in our most challenging times, there is always something to feel grateful for.
NOTE: This is not one of those toxic positivity type exercises – but an appreciation for challenge as a tool for growth. Think back to a challenging time in your life, something you have since overcome and (perhaps your first journaling exercise?) and bullet point some key take always and how they have positively impacted your life since. This can also serve a potent reminder that all is temporary and ever changing and if you are facing a challenging time right now, you have overcome before and will again.
You can also use apps or a word document, or your social media account!
Then just write it out – whatever it is – got a promotion or new job, tried a new recipe, went to a fitness or yoga class, saw a friend or relative. Whatever it is that you have done that day that you are grateful for, write it in your journal.
The benefits of gratitude and journaling are vast and evidence based and there is a great article over on Positive Psychology on the benefits of Gratitude (read it here) – but to keep it short here are some bullets:
- Helps us appreciate what we have, instead of striving for what we don’t
- Reduce stress, anxiety, alleviate depression, as a mindful practice, and as above, by appreciating what is with us each day, we reduce the constant pressure of striving for what isn’t
- Enhances our positive emotions by recognising them – no more taking it for granted when something good comes by, which is more often than you realise
- Increase our self esteem, by seeing all the good, we stand taller and find more peace
- Improve relationships, romantic, family or friendships, by making us better communicators, problem solvers and establishing trust and shared appreciation
- Helps us find meaning, whether it’s in our personal lives, or our work, by realising what is important to us emotionally and spiritually we are able to highlight areas in which we are not finding that fulfillment
- Improves our physical health – by reducing all that stress, anxiety and depression, our energies flow more freely, we prioritise our health when we notice what is good and what we may need to let go of
There are so many more, and so many layers to these few above,
“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.”Mary Davis
Isn’t this just a diary?
Close – but no. The difference here is the mindful practice of gratitude. Nothing to do, no plans to make, simply a dedicated practice to recognising and appreciating the positive things in your life.
How to keep a gratitude diary
there are so many ‘how to’ post on this, but I’m going with a no pressure approach here. Do it daily, but don’t overthink it:
- There is no ‘best time’ to do it, you can do it before bed as a reflection, in the morning to look forwards, as things happen or a combination of all of the above!
- But do make time to reflect on these points you have written down – it’s fabulous place to spend time.
- Elaborate – instead of just putting ‘coffee with Jane’ – how did it make you feel? or ‘I cooked a great meal’, think about the food itself, from the flavours, to the recipe, to the farmers and others involved in creating the meal from seed to belly!
- Keep the negative out – use it as a prompt maybe but turn it around – what good came of it?
- Add pictures, draw something, print a photo or if you saw something in a magazine or somewhere – pop it in there.
Finally – Give it a chance! You don’t have to set aside an hour or create an altar it doesn’t even have to be daily really – just regular.
Give it a try and let me know.
With love, and gratitude