Tips for keeping a gratitude journal
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude. A few years ago, I started writing one thing I was grateful for every day for the month of November. I put these in a jar and read through all of them on Thanksgiving. Wow, what an impact that made on me. Now, I keep a gratitude journal year round. I try to write in it daily, but truthfully, it's more like 1-3 times a week.
Some of my entries are prayers of thanks, others are recollections of something that brought happiness to my day. It can be something relatively small like that iced latte on the way to work, or a major life event, giving birth to a healthy baby girl. Most days, it is a mixture of both.
There are times we all feel stretched in so many directions, we miss the blessings right in front of us. Too busy doing. But I can tell you, when I make gratitude a daily priority, my days are always brighter. If you go through the day looking for things to be grateful for, something always shows up.
Here are some tips to start your own gratitude journal adapted from the Greater Good Project at the University Of California, Berkeley.
Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.
Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
What are you grateful for today? I'd love to hear what's bringing you joy.