My Musings on the Power of Gratitude + 3 Tips for Gratitude Journaling 

“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.  No matter what is going on outside of us, there is always something we could be grateful for.” ~ Barry Neil Kaufman

 

I have used my journal for many things during the past four decades.  One of the enduring elements of my journaling is that it is intricately linked with my gratitude practice.  My journal is filled with expressions of gratitude for things, people, experiences and more.  I give thanks for the challenges too and try to gain learning and insights from the difficult and painful aspects of life.  In fact, I credit my abiding devotion to giving thanks as a key part of my own personal well-being and resilience.  There have been times in my life where I have felt that gratitude itself is keeping me tethered to optimism and hope, even when times have felt hopeless or overwhelming.  In other words, I have grown to appreciate that gratitude is good medicine for living a healthy, resilient and positive life.

In addition to journaling my gratitude, I also start and end each day with giving thanks.  In the morning, I say “thank you for this new day before me.”  Before going to sleep, I take a few minutes to bring into my mind, body and heart all the things I am grateful for from the day that is ending.

Gratitude is part of my relationships too.  I thank my husband each day for all he does in our family.  I thank him for loving me.  I thank him for being a wonderful father to our two sons.  I thank our teen boys for the ways they contribute in our family, I thank them when they say something kind to one another (in part to counter some of the harsher things they can say as brothers!).  I have learned that what we focus on grows.  When our focus is on giving thanks and being grateful, I really believe that it changes us on a cellular level.  We live with a different vibrational frequency when gratitude is present.

Here is an example of my own gratitude from this past weekend…

“I am grateful to have a bed to sleep in tonight and every night.  It could be otherwise.  I am grateful for the meal I just ate at Pagliacci’s with safe social distancing in the restaurant.  It could be otherwise.  I am grateful to text my husband and boys goodnight and get their sweet dream messages back.  It could be otherwise.  I am grateful for the clothes in my suitcase, the swim I took in the hotel pool earlier today, and for the 40 minutes I ran on the treadmill and how I was the only person in the gym at the time.  I am grateful for the Lindor chocolate I had while walking beside the ocean.  I am grateful for my warm sweater and comfortable Hoka running shoes.  I am grateful my Mom is safe in her long-term care home.  I am grateful that while my mom is declining with Alzheimer’s disease, she still knows who I am.  I know it will one day likely be otherwise. I am grateful my father-in-law is Covid free despite living in a long-term care home where there are 27 current cases of Covid.  I am grateful for my girlfriends and all the ways they enrich my life.  I am grateful for the IAJW and being able to help people use journaling to enrich their lives and health.  I am grateful I stopped to speak with that man on the street.  I am grateful I witnessed his gratitude, a seemingly impossible thing to have under his apparent homeless circumstances.  I am grateful for gratitude itself.”

How Gratitude Journaling Can Change Your Life

There are many ways that gratitude journaling can change and enrich your life, health, relationships and state of mind.

Research shows that just thinking about what we are grateful for can offer positive benefits including boosting our mood, improving our mental health, reducing stress and cultivating resiliency.  You can take your gratitude and its many benefits to the next level by writing your gratitude down in the pages of your journal!

Gratitude journaling benefits you on and off the page.  It orients you to all that there is to be grateful for throughout your day.  It is a daily practice, a mindset and a decision to live with gratitude.

Gratitude is not living with rose-colored glasses, but rather living with an open heart and willingness to be grateful in all circumstances.  There are times in life when it is more challenging to find the good, the things to be grateful for – during a global Covid-19 pandemic for example!  There is a lot of suffering, uncertainty and fear in our midst.  We are all also trying to stay healthy and keep our immune systems strong.  Our gratitude is not conditional, it is an offering.  A form of prayer, a devotion – not in a religious sense of the word, but in a “here I am living with full awareness for all there is to be grateful for” type of way.

3 Tips for Gratitude Journaling

1.  You might like to keep a specific journal for your gratitude journaling.  I like to keep all my journaling together but I know many people have specific “gratitude journals.”  Just an idea!

2. Write 5-10 things you are grateful for each day.  Think of any moment during the day that made you happy, gave you a sense of relief, or that was a positive surprise.  Ideally, we want to keep our gratitude journaling positive, optimistic and uplifting!

3. Embody the feeling of gratitude as you write.  While listing things we are grateful for is helpful, it is also important to actually experiencing the felt sense of gratitude within your being as you write and as you think of the things you are grateful for.  Let the feeling of gratitude imprint on your being, this helps you hold onto it.

The Power of Gratitude Journal Prompts

      • How is gratitude part of your life?
        How is gratitude part of your journaling?
        What difference has gratitude made in your own life?
        What difference could it make?
      • In this moment, what are you most grateful for?

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

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About the Author:  Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing