Starting a Gratitude Journal will transform your life and I am about to give you a step by step guide on how you can do it.
Gratitude is a powerful attitude. I wrote my first gratitude list when I was a little girl. My Mom always kept me occupied with all sorts of writing prompts and exercises. Well, besides playing with my one doll, books, chores, and craft work, not much else to focus my hyper-energy on.
My first gratitude journal was our floor at home. As a joint family that occupied the second floor of our building, we had a largish uncluttered home (no ceiling fans, no refrigerator, no TV—this was the 60s). Big windows with window sills—many cozy spots for reading. Plenty of chalk to write with, on our beautiful red oxide floor. Besides drawing on this vast canvas, I also did my writing practice on the floor. Probably how I learned to mop, but that’s a different story.
Once I got started, I looked forward to impressing my Mom, Grandma, Uncles and Aunt every day with something creative.
What started off with lists evolved into sketching scenes which earned me the precious gift of a drawing book.
Long story short, two important things happened.
- I fell in love with lists—they rule my life
- I practiced the attitude of gratitude—which keeps me focused on the silver lining
Each night, before I went to bed, I said my prayers which included a thank you list. Eventually, I started doing this also as soon as I woke up, when I learned to set intentions for the day.
Over the years, I’ve kept a gratitude journal. When my son came into my life, naturally I wanted to teach him, too. When he was very little, I started the concept of the Gratitude Jar, as it was fun and easy—and the whole family buddied up with him.
Here’s our first Gratitude Jar, which we also called the Happiness jar.
All you need is an empty container, paper and pencil/pen. Of course, decorating it is a must.
Oh, our son loved writing all sorts of things on those bits of paper and watching the jar fill up. Obviously, just the sight of that jar filling up was pure joy and lifted our spirits. Grabbing a handful every couple of weeks and reading was even more fun. Yes, our family tends to generally be happy.
The goal, of course, was mindful living, appreciating the little things. Sure, we’ve parried arguments from our son on various occasions, but the overall outcome has been satisfactory. Even today, when I talk to him on the phone and suddenly ask him to list three things he’s grateful for, he can instantly cite five. I am thinking, mission accomplished.
So, although the title of this post—starting a gratitude journal, a step by step guide—sounds serious, I want to assure you right now that it is the easiest thing in the world. Most of you reading this probably already maintain a gratitude journal, in which case, I hope you’ll smile as you read this.
Gratitude is an appreciation and acknowledgment for all the good things we receive. Since the source of this good stuff is outside our lives, gratitude also connects us to others. There are scientific studies to prove that consciously maintaining a gratitude practice results in better emotional well-being and physical health. There are fewer illnesses, lesser chances of depression and consequently, more happiness and a positive outlook, along with strong relationships, and a tendency to be more generous.
What you need to start your gratitude journal:
- Ten minutes, max., per day. Some people prefer to do it weekly, but I highly recommend daily. It is actually easier. But hey, pick your own pace.
- A notebook of your choice—make it pretty. Look at mine, pandering to my stationery fetish!
- You can also follow the “bullet journal” system. This is a personal favorite with me, and is easier to follow when you write your gratitude journal daily.
- Ideally, choose a time of day when it is most convenient. Before you go to bed, or as soon as you wake up…or whatever works for you.
- As always, intention. The desire to do it.
Getting started—the attitude of gratitude
- Become conscious of noticing, recalling any happy event, however small, good experience/person/thing, and enjoy the feel-goodness of these.
- Write down three/five things that make you feel grateful. This is important—the writing part.
- Repeat every day.
See? That easy.
Some tips to get you started:
- Who are you most grateful for today (person)
- Which three people touched your life today, and how?
- What did you do to cheer someone/brighten their life today?
- One thing you feel absolutely blessed to have in your life, today
- Three more things you’re grateful for, today.
I know I said three things initially, but you’d be surprised how your list gets longer when you start focusing on gratitude.
Some points to keep in mind while writing your gratitude journal
- Be specific—as I said, enjoy the feeling that came with it
- Avoid writing the same thing every day. No dittos.
- Try and notice something new every day. You’ll be amazed the things you’ll see.
- Feel free to be as detailed as you want. I can promise you that you’ll love going back and reading it a few weeks later.
- Be personal. Life is generally more about people, than things.
- Needn’t always be positive stuff. Can be grateful for losing something.
- Note unexpected joys/gifts/events
- Be regular
My gratitude journal looks something like this:
- That heart on my coffee today
- Phone call from Uma. She’s coming home with my favorite dish today!
- So glad I finally lost that client today. (yes, sometimes I am grateful for what I don’t have)
- Bought mango ginger and amla in the market today. Made pickle.
- So happy T got the project she pitched for!
- Grateful for the medical store guy rushing my prescription home even though it was late at night.
… and so on and so forth.
As easy as that. You’re simply recording things you’re grateful for, things that made you happy!
If some of you are still wondering WHY maintain a gratitude journal, d’uh, there are several reasons. Here are just some of the benefits of practicing gratitude:
- Stress relief—clearly because you take time to calm down and recall the good stuff
- A fresh perspective on life and what matters
- A better understand of what you want more of
- Better focus
- Practicing mindful living, good for your mental health
- Your gratitude journal is your best friend on those days when you feel a bit low—read through it and reset your mood
- Better balance in life
- Attract good things and people
- A growing sense of accomplishment
- Improved physical and emotional health
- Enhanced empathy and better relationships
- Greater self esteem and ability to pursue personal goals, rather than harboring resentment over those doing better than them, because gratitude tends to make one appreciate others’ achievements
- Better sleep
You can personally test this by starting your gratitude journal practice today and attract more goodness in your life.
Take a deep breath, or two
Open your heart
Today I am grateful for…
It is World Gratitude Day–what better occasion to get started?
By the way, a friendly shout out to Upasna Sethi, who launched the Gratitude Pie app today!
For those who’d like to maintain their Gratitude Journal on the go, Upasna has made it easy as pie with a brand-new app called the Gratitude Pie: Recipe for a Happy You.
Pie, because it is in the form of a pie chart. And I’d also like to think that gratitude is as delicious as pie.
This is a pie-style interactive editable Gratitude Journal app that lets you add five grateful moments daily, resulting in a colorful pie which you can then share on social media right away!
You can also add photos.
Install it today! You will enjoy using it!
And share your Gratitude pie on social media.
What are you grateful for, today? Please share in the comments!