Self

How To Start A Gratitude Journal To Bring More Happiness To Your Life

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woman writing in journal

If you've been feeling dissatisfied and overly stressed lately, it's time to learn how to start a gratitude journal. 

Gratitude is a very strong word. It's the definition of feeling thankful, readily showing appreciation, and returning kindness. A person who feels gratitude often reaps the reward for it and enjoys many benefits.

Of course, it's often hard for people to feel a sense of gratitude. Instead, the mind tries to trick you into feeling a sense of entitlement.

If you wish to experience the benefits of gratitude, it's best to use a gratitude journal. A journal can help you experience the many benefits of gratitude, including success, happiness, love, and pure joy.

With a journal, you catalog your reasons for being grateful, which helps change your perspective on the world around you. In other words, you will find different reads to feel a sense of gratitude, which allows you to find the good in most aspects of your life.

RELATED: How To Start — And Keep — A Gratitude Journal Using These 37 Expert Prompts

How to start a gratitude journal

First, you're going to need a blank notebook. When selecting your notebook, make sure you do so carefully. Choose one that appeals to you visually.

If you're the creative and crafty type, you could always decorate your notebook to make it more visually appealing.

The goal is to find something that stimulates your mind, which will make it easier to pick it up and use it.

Coming up with gratitude journal ideas.

Each night before you fall asleep, write down things that make you feel grateful. You can use some gratitude journal prompts or freestyle it. 

You should also start some form of ritual practice before writing in your journal. By starting a ritual, it allows you to maintain consistency. Consistency means that you're more likely to repeat the process over and over again.

Therefore, rituals help you create habits. If you don’t know what rituals to pick, try lighting a candle or drinking a cup of tea before you write in your journal.

Your next step will be to express your gratitude.

That doesn't mean you have to write down some lengthy paragraph describing things that make you feel grateful. You can express your gratitude in whatever way works best for you.

For instance, you can draw pictures of people or places that make you feel grateful. You can also write down a list of things that make you feel grateful.

How you choose to express gratitude in your journal is up to you. The goal is to do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. However, you should try to feel that sense of gratitude as you write or draw about it.

Even at the end of a really bad day, you should do your best to think of at least one thing that makes you feel grateful and focus on that.

However you choose to journal about your gratitude, make sure you dig deep enough to give it quality. The deeper down you dig to feel gratitude, the easier it is for you to hold onto it.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Maintain An Attitude Of Gratitude — Even If Everything Is Falling Apart

Observe how gratitude makes you feel physically and emotionally.

Hold onto it and use that moment to express it in your journal. You will notice that the entry is full of life and quality if you write in a moment when you feel gratitude so strongly.

You can, of course, write at any time of the day you feel like it, but it is suggested that you finish your day with an entry. You are not limited to one entry a day.

Just make sure that before you go to sleep, you provide a gratitude entry in your journal. It helps to end your day on a positive note.

If you think of something that makes you feel gratitude before you go to bed, it can spur positive thoughts, feelings, and even dreams.

Repeat each of the steps above every single day until you start to develop the habit of journaling your feelings of gratitude. Some people choose to write once a week instead of every day, and that's perfectly OK. 

Also, consider rewarding yourself each time you add to your journal to help you form a habit.

If you find that you need additional assistance to find feelings of gratitude, speak with a therapist.

A therapist can assist you along your journey to find and maintain gratitude and also provide you with suggestions for how to start a gratitude journal that work for you. 

Benefits of a gratitude journal. 

People who practice and maintain a sense of gratitude tend to be happy, easygoing people. They are normally happy and easygoing because they are able to see things in a positive light, even in negative situations.

Therefore, teaching yourself gratitude can help you overcome feelings of anger, grief, anxiety, and sadness.

When you experience negative feelings like that, it can make you feel like everything in your life is going wrong.

If you get into the habit of maintaining a gratitude journal, it's a good way to combat those negative feelings and experience the positive benefits of gratitude. Even when things seem dark and gloomy, gratitude can bring you feelings of joy and hope.

Life is full of both positive and negative situations. How you perceive a situation will shape your attitude and response to it. 

To feel a sense of gratitude, you have to find the positive even in the most negative of situations. If need be, bring to mind inspiring and positive thoughts. Focus on those thoughts to keep your mind from focusing on the negative.

RELATED: 6 Life-Changing Benefits Of Practicing Gratitude Daily

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive-behavioral therapist and the Owner of Rocky Mountain Counseling and Lighthouse Counseling Services. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 20years of experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT-S) with adults and children respectively.

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This article was originally published at Rocky Mountain Counseling Services. Reprinted with permission from the author.