Starting a gratitude journal can help you become more intune with future feelings of gratitude, which means you may start actively looking for things to be thankful for in their world. But for many, starting a gratitude journal and consistently writing in it can be a challenge. Sometimes having prompts can help guide your practice. If coming up with something to write about is difficult for you, try writing to these prompts. As your practice develops, you may alter the prompts or combine and rearrange them, and before long you may find you don’t need a prompt at all to write about your gratitude.
- Focus on the present. Look around you right now. What do you see that you’re grateful for?
- Think about your past. What’s a happy memory you have? Or where is a place you have been that you’re grateful to have visited?
- Consider the future. What’s something that you are looking forward to in the upcoming weeks or months?
- What’s something about your body and/or your health for which you’re grateful? Don’t mention any of the things you wish you could improve. Focus only on the positive.
- Write about someone who you’re grateful to have in your life. Explain why you are grateful for them and the positive things this person has brought to your life.
- What conveniences do you have in your life that you sometimes take for granted? What things do you have access to or what items do you own that make your life easier. Write about as many of these things as you can think of and give thanks for each.
- Write about what you are grateful for about yourself. What accomplishments are you proud of or what traits do you like about yourself?
- Find the good in where you live. Write about what you’re grateful for about your home or neighborhood.
- Write about three things that simply make you happy. You might write about a person, a hobby, your favorite TV show or musician, your favorite food, or anything else that you just enjoy.
- Write about the best part of your day (or your yesterday, if you’re writing in the morning).
Expressing gratitude can have significant benefits on our overall well-being. It can help us think more positively, experience more positive emotions, and even improve our physical health. Consider incorporating these practices into your routine to begin reaping the benefits of a regular gratitude practice.
The Morning 3!
Start your mornings by thinking of three things you’re grateful for. The more specific you can get, the better! This is also a great place to start for those of you who find the breathing exercises a bit more challenging.
Make it Count
Sit up nice and straight. Take a few deep breaths, and count 10 things that you are grateful for. Extend one finger for each one. Once you’re finished, both hands will be open and you may find yourself feeling a little more grateful.
Peak and Pit
Try this at the dinner table or the next time you’re chatting with a friend. Ask them to tell you the peak and pit of their day. What went well and what is something they wish had gone better?
Tip: You may be able to help them find a way to turn the pit into a positive by asking them what the experience is teaching them?
Day 1: Write 10 Things You Are Grateful For. Simple as that. It could be the shoes on your feet, the roof over your head, the phone in your hand, or the fact that you’re alive. Just find 10 things to say “thank you” for.
Day 2: Compliment a Stranger. Make someone you don’t know feel good today. We’re in this time where when we pass someone we barely notice because our heads are buried in our phones. Put the phone away and be human, just for today, seek someone out and make them feel good.
Day 3: Clean Something. Take some time to declutter today. Show gratitude for your space by keeping it clean. Clutter never generates a good feeling whether we notice it or not. Notice the good feeling you get when you create space.
Sidenote: This could be mental clutter as well. Take some time to do a brain dump and write down what’s been lingering up there.
Day 4: Write a Thank You Letter and Mail It. This is one of my favorite things to do for my clients and people that have impacted my life. Not a text, not a call, but a thank you note. Yes, snail mail, with a stamp. It doesn’t have to be long but just tell someone, “thank you”.
Day 5: Reach Out to Someone Who Has Influenced You Big Time. Okay, now you can text or call, or slide in a DM. But this time, make it someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Maybe save this one for an old teacher or friend. Let them know that you’re calling them to thank them for the difference they’ve made in your life.
Day 6: Hug Someone You Care About. Hugs actually have been proven to reduce stress and boost your immune system. So open up your arms and give someone a hug. If you get to this day and no one is around, shoot me an email and I will give you a VIRTUAL hug.
Day 7: Forgive Someone. Here’s the thing. This challenge is pretty easy. Say you’re grateful, do some nice things…OK. All of these exercises help us to build a gratitude practice and make us feel really good. But there’s something a lot of us need to do in order to feel even better. Forgive someone. A lot of us are holding onto anger, pain, and hurt that was “caused” by someone else. Make the hard choice to let something go. The thing is, holding onto anger does nothing to the other person, it just hurts you. Also, it’s really hard to be angry and grateful at the same time. Today is about gratitude. So, whatever happened – take a moment to find the good in it today. Whatever sliver of good you can find in it, then, make the conscious decision to let the bad go.
Create an amazing week!
Stress from work, friends, family, and mundane routines have a tendency to put us in a pattern of negative thinking that literally feeds on itself and creates more stress and unhappiness for us.
This cycle of negativity that develops from prolonged stress can lead to irritability, more stress, insecurity, anxiety, depression and so much more. So, it’s important to find a way to cultivate a positive attitude that can reprogram our thoughts to be dominantly positive, break the cycle of negativity, and start bringing some good stuff into our lives.
One of the ways you can shift your mindset out of the negative is by gratitude journaling.
Writing can be a great release. Often, when we write about things that make us feel good, we generate a feeling of gratitude. You might find that a gratitude journal is the best approach for incorporating a gratitude practice into your schedule.
How you decide to go about this gratitude journaling practice is up to you. Maybe you’ll have a journal solely used for gratitude purposes or maybe you’ll use a journal that you use for a handful of purposes. Some people have a personalized journal or use one that was given to them that evokes some type of emotion or sense of importance. Maybe you’ll find journaling in the morning right after you wake up works best, or maybe you’ll find writing in the evenings is a better fit. For some people, writing by hand feels easiest, while others prefer to type. Allow yourself to be flexible as you find the approach that works best for you, but do try to put some effort into sticking to a gratitude journaling routine. Once you get into the habit of gratitude journaling, you will find endless benefits.
Here are some tips for success as you start your gratitude journaling practice.
Positive Words, ONLY: Don’t use this space as an area to vent out the negative. Stay focused on the good stuff. Do NOT fix your pen to write the words “don’t, can’t, won’t, not” – none of it. Use positive words, only.
Use Prompts: Writing prompts are a great way to help your gratitude practice and process come easier. I would aim to write about 5-10 things each day. Here are some of the prompts I use:
“I am so grateful for..”
“I always feel good when..”
“Today was amazing because…”
Be Genuine: Please don’t do this if it feels like a chore. If it’s too much of a hassle, we can find you something that is a better fit. Allow this to be something therapeutic for you. A release, that pours right back into you. The worst thing you can do with your gratitude practice is simply go through the motions. In order to really reap the benefits you have to cultivate the feeling of goodness and thankfulness. You have to make a conscious decision to make an effort to be more grateful. You need to be able to feel what you write and believe that it’s true.
Speak It Into Existence: I don’t use my gratitude journal just for the things I’m grateful for now. I write about the things I’m grateful for in advance because I know the potential of my mind and positive thinking.
“I am so blessed in my business. I work with 8 clients per week to help them strengthen their yoga/mindfulness practice.
“I am so thankful for all of this opportunity through A Peace of Yoga. I work with the best and the brightest everyday to master my craft and become great at what I do.”
There’s No Right Time: While I do advise you to start writing down things that you’re grateful for in the morning, don’t limit yourself to that time frame. As good things happen to you throughout the day, write them down! I like to jot down a few feel goods before I call it a night too. It leaves me with a sense of peace and oftentimes I awake with that same sense of gratitude.
It’s okay to journal when times are bad too. Use this as a tool to help shift you into a better mood by reflecting on the things that make you feel good. You can’t be mad and grateful at the same time. It’s just how it works. So choose gratitude. Turn the negatives into positives – but only write in the positive tense. Does that make sense? So for example:
“My relationship didn’t work out.. (insert name) turned out to be a waste of time, but at least now I have time to focus on myself and know what I want.”
DO NOT Waste Your Energy Throwing Shade in Your Journal.
Try this: I am thankful I have time to work on myself and I know that when the time is right I will attract the perfect partner with all the qualities I desire. Maybe elaborate from there on what that relationship will look like..Have a little fun with it.
See the difference. The key is to Stay. In. The. Good. Don’t even acknowledge the negatives. This is specifically about GRATITUDE.
Elaborate: Depth over Breadth. So, I just mentioned elaborating on your journal entries. Explore what you really feel by going in depth on what you’re grateful for. This will help you in the genuine department. Make it clear what you’re writing about so that if you were to go back a year from now you could understand what you felt in that moment and maybe even regenerate that good feeling.
There is a big difference between:
“I am so grateful for my favorite student, Alex.”
“I am so grateful for my favorite student, Alex. That boy cracks me up everyday. Today, I convinced him that he set the school on fire with his magic powers (we had a fire drill) and had him confess on video…
Don’t Rush: Give yourself time with this exercise. Don’t just jot it down and run out the door. Write it, absorb it, feel good about it.
Mix it Up & Get Creative: Don’t put the same things everyday. Continuously find reasons to be grateful. I know people who use ticket stubs, pictures, receipts, etc. as prompts to reflect on. I personally like to keep a picture or two of my niece, Aria, laying around. She’s amazing too.
But This Is Corny…Listen, if you find something that makes you feel good and helps you to live a life you enjoy, you need to keep doing that. No one has to know that you do this, or that you repeat affirmations in your mirror, or that you say “thank you” to yourself with every step. This is a process for you and if it feels a little weird, great. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone!
Just Be Patient: Most studies will say it takes 21 days to form a habit so let’s give it three weeks before we give up and say it isn’t for us. After all, according to my audience, we’re probably dealing with at least 20 something years of mostly negative thinking. It’s going to take some time for the brain to get used to this new way of thinking.
The goal here is to get to a point where your brain automatically defaults to looking for the good in every situation. You want to make gratitude what your brain looks for when it needs to feel good. Always searching for something positive, always pulling away something positive from every circumstance. What you will learn overtime is that your thoughts are like any muscle, the more you exercise them, the stronger they become. Positive thoughts reap positive results. Negative thoughts reap negative results. So, stay in the good. Happy journaling and as always, create a great day.