Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a notebook fanatic. The lovely journals in the Anthropologie sale section get me every single time. No really — you should see my apartment; I’ve managed to curate quite the collection. But see, the problem is that no matter how much I adored these leather-bound diaries, the pages all stayed, well, blank.
Yet after continuously reading over and over about the life-changing benefits maintaining a gratitude journal can have on one’s life — not to mention happiness — I rallied up my mental troops and made the decision to finally commit. For two weeks straight, I would put pen to paper and jot down what all I was feeling particularly grateful for that given day, no matter how big or small. Pretty simple, right?
Now, in full disclosure: this was around a time I had somehow become swept under the dangerous current of constant complaining, so this seemed like a solid solution to start uncloaking myself of negativity.
I won’t lie — the first few days were a bit difficult, as it felt like yet another thing I needed to remember to do before pulling the curtain on the day. (Sounds dramatic, I know.) But after quickly overcoming that little roadblock, the positive vibes started taking back the reigns of control over my mind. Yes, unnecessary worries would try to pull me down many times throughout my waking hours, but thankfully, I began forming the habit of grabbing my handy-dandy notebook whenever this took place. And over the course of just 14 days, I noticed a total mind-shift.
By actively training myself to focus on the “bright side” — aka the fact that my heart was (and is!) currently beating — I magically transformed my rampant ranting into positive, upbeat praises, all in as little as two short weeks. Now, if that’s not a miraculous mental exercise, I don’t know what is!
While I know the thought of journaling can seem a bit cheesy, I’d be the first to encourage it, especially if you’re in a bit of a funk. There’s something undeniably therapeutic about taking time to thoughtfully consider what all you’re thankful for, even if it’s simply jotting a bullet-point list on the back of a napkin for five minutes or so. As Arianna Huffington wrote in her book Thrive, “Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation.”
Yep, those wise words pretty much sums it all up for me. Oh, but wait. I forgot to mention that while gratitude journaling can boost your happiness and improve your self-esteem, it can also reduce stress. And that’s scientifically proven. Basically, this low-key writing exercise is the ultimate miracle drug that’s completely free and totally legal.
So, interested in starting your own journal?
If you happen to be nodding your head yes, rest assured knowing that I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines. What makes this exercise so awesome is that really, there are no rules. With no right or wrong way to go about it, you’re free to write just the way you like. But because forming new habits can be rather challenging at times, below are a few tips I’ve uncovered for maintaining a journal.
And hey, if writing or journaling isn’t your cup of tea, that’s totally okay. Seriously, I know a ton of people who just can’t seem to get into this habit. But, as you can probably imagine, there are so many ways to practice gratitude each day. Whether it’s through yoga, meditation or simply shutting your laptop and going for a mind-clearing walk, don’t be afraid to test things out to find the best method for YOU. Trust me, you’ll be on the way to living a much more happy and fulfilling life if you do!
BY Kathryn - November 12, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.