5 Reasons You Need to Keep a Gratitude Journal

A few years ago, I was introduced to the idea of a gratitude journal, of sorts, when a person from my online divorce support group challenged all of us to look for a “miracle” each day and post about it in the group. She defined a “miracle” as something we were grateful for, a kindness we observed or performed, or something that made us smile—basically anything positive.  I decided to take her up on the challenge, and for a month, I checked in every day with my “miracle”.  

Other people also joined in, and soon, participation in our group became a highlight of my day. I began to feel my stress level decrease and my overall mood lift. We began talking about the positive impact it was having on everyone, and one person commented that it was kind of like our own gratitude journal. I was intrigued by this and began learning about what that was.

What is a Gratitude Journal?

A gratitude journal is simply what it sounds like. Each day, you jot down three things you are grateful for. This idea comes from a technique created by psychologist Martin Seligman, known as “Three Good Things”. It is in our human nature to focus on negative things, which causes depression, anxiety, and stress. The “Three Good Things” technique redirects our thoughts toward the positive things in our life. It has been scientifically proven to decrease negative bias and increase a person’s sense of well-being.

Seeing how the simple “miracle” activity had brought positive changes in my life, I definitely wanted to give this gratitude journal a try. I began looking for a notebook I could keep it in. The perfect one was found—a pink journal with simple gold letters on the front—“THINK HAPPY”. One of my favorite style of pens soon accompanied this little book in my bedside cabinet.

Pink journal with gold words "Think Happy" on a beige quilt

I started writing almost every night, and additionally, I decided to doodle in artistic lettering,  quotes about happiness or gratitude that I had found. Pretty soon I could again feel positive changes coming to my outlook and my health. It had such a great impact on me, that I knew I had to share it with others. I shared it on social media, hoping to inspire some of my friends to give it a try. Then later, I created an actual printed gratitude journal with uplifting quotes that I sell in my online store.

A blush-colored journal with the words "Think Happy" on a denim blue background

Reasons to Keep a Gratitude Journal

In my learning about gratitude journals, I have discovered that there are many benefits to keeping one. I have also made several observations from my own experience with writing in mine. Here are five reasons you need to begin a practice of keeping a gratitude journal:

1 Huge Impact on Mental and Physical Health

Numerous scientific studies have been done on the effects of practicing gratitude. The list of benefits is seemingly endless. The physical health benefits range from improved sleep and more energy, to reduced risk of cancer and heart problems and a longer life expectancy. Emotionally, practicing gratitude increases self-esteem, improves resilience, makes you more relaxed, and helps you be more optimistic and happy. Practicing gratitude can help in your social life as well, by deepening and enriching relationships and attracting new friends. Your career can even improve as you practice gratitude, by increasing your productivity, improving your decision-making ability, and making you more goal-oriented.

With so many benefits to your physical and emotional well-being, this simple, daily practice yields a high return on investment. Isn’t all of this worth 10 minutes of your time each day?!

2 Attract Positivity to Your Life

Many people believe in what’s known as the “Law of Attraction”. This philosophy teaches that what we focus on we attract to our lives. Another way of saying this is that positivity attracts positive things, and negativity attracts negative things. 

Have you ever met someone who is always so upbeat, it just makes you want to be around them more? Or conversely, have you met someone who is sour and negative about everything? Just being around them puts you in a bad mood, so you try to avoid them.  This is the Law of Attraction, and it’s a major reason why practicing gratitude attracts good things to your life.

If you know you will be writing in your gratitude journal that night, your brain begins to “rewire” itself to look for these things throughout the day. As you start to take notice of the good things in your life, it becomes easier to recognize them. Your attitude will become more positive, and in turn, you will attract more good to your life.

You will also begin to see things that happen to you in a new way. For example, suppose you lose your job. Rather than being stressed about it, you may see it as an opportunity to make a strategic career move.  Because you are focusing more on positivity, you are more likely to view these situations in a way that can benefit you.

3 Gratitude is a skill that takes time to build

English Statesman, John Lubbock once said, “Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin.” Much like happiness, having gratitude is a skill that we must practice every day. Keeping a gratitude journal helps us discipline ourselves to feel gratitude every day.  This simple ritual, if done consistently, can eventually turn into a habit of recognizing blessings.

4 It’s a Tangible Record of your Blessings

One thing I love about my gratitude journal is that it’s a constant reminder of the good in my life. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I can open up my journal and read about things that have had a positive impact on me.  It can remind me that even though something bad happened, or even though I’m in a bad mood, I have so much good surrounding me. This can definitely improve my mood.

I think my gratitude journal will also be a great thing to pass down to my posterity. How wonderful for my children and grandchildren to see all the things I was grateful for! They can see how I was able to find gratitude, even through my trials. Maybe it can even be a help to them in their hard times!

5 You can see your progress over time

When I first started writing in my gratitude journal, it was honestly hard to find things to write about. Considering I was going through one of the darkest times of my life, it was difficult to be grateful and positive. My first entries consisted of obvious things like my family, nice weather, or my job. But as I ran out of “easy” things to journal about and also began to focus more on the positive in my life, I started writing about more abstract and not so obvious things.

One example of this is when I began recognizing the things I had gained from various trials in my life. I wrote a few entries about the way these difficulties ended up blessing my life. What a learning experience this was! And it definitely helps me now, when I’m going through a hard time to focus on what I can learn or gain from it.

Over time, I can see that my gratitude has grown, and that makes it easier to be grateful each and every day. I love being able to look back and see how far I’ve come. The progress I’ve made is something to be grateful for in and of itself!

Give it a Try!

Tonight, take a few minutes to write down some things you are grateful for. You don’t have to have a fancy journal. A simple notebook or even a scrap of paper is a great place to start. Give it a few days, and see if your mood and your life start improving! Later, if you would like to get more serious about gratitude journaling, you can invest in a nicer journal or one made specifically for gratitude, like the one I created.

What is Your Experience?

Have you ever kept a gratitude journal before? What was your experience? Do you have any other ideas about this topic? Comment below!

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