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.