How Gratitude Journaling Can Lead to Happiness
Troubles can fill our lives, from little instances to large occurrences. That doesn’t mean we can’t still be optimistic or even thankful as we go through those hard times. One way to help keep your mind positive and focused on the good is to keep a gratitude journal.
Gratitude journaling is writing down what you are thankful for that day and why it made you happy. It doesn’t have to be something spectacular or grand in the eyes of the world, as long as it is grand to you. It could be something like: “I am thankful for hearing jazz music in a co-workers office this morning – I can’t help but smile when it plays.”
Studies have found that taking on an attitude of gratitude (I had to say it at some point) can benefit your emotions, social life, career, health, and personality. The following are some of the ways those in a gratitude journal study experienced the benefits:
- More optimistic about their lives
- More active
- Felt 25% happier than those who were not keeping a journal
- Achieved personal goals
- Experienced less symptoms of sickness
- Slept a ½ hour more
How To Get Started
A great thing about gratitude journals is that they are easy to start and maintain! Here are four steps to getting started with a gratitude journal:
Pick a Journal/Notebook
It doesn’t have to be fancy or specially bought. If you have a notebook or empty journal in your house, go ahead and use it! If you want to go out and buy a new journal, that’s fine too!
You get to choose when you’re going to write and how often: once a week, every other day, etc. Whatever you choose stick to it, and when you make it a habit that is when the positive outlook becomes second nature.
Write 3 to 5 Things Each Time
Pick a goal of how many things you want to write each time. Right now three things may seem like a lot, but as you get into it you will find that the things you see as positive events occur more frequently.
Find the Positive
Negative situations happen, but that doesn’t mean that thankfulness can’t abound. If you find yourself in a difficult moment or situation, try finding the positive in it. For example: “I messed up at work today, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from the situation.” “My mom has cancer, but I am grateful for our growing relationship and for the moments I get to help her laugh and smile.”
I’m not saying that gratitude journaling will always be easy, in particular the part about turning negative situations into a positive. I’m also not saying it’s a cure for everything. What I am saying is that if you don’t give up and you continue to find positive moments even in the midst of darkness then that’s when light, optimism, positivity, and happiness is more likely to prevail.