Sometimes we go through difficult situations that can make us temporarily lose sight of the lighter and more positive side of life. This article will discuss the benefits of a gratitude journal and will help you see how writing one can reflect well on your state of mind.
People keep journals of all sorts, but can a gratitude journal make you happier? Yes, it can for the following reasons:
- A gratitude journal helps you to keep your focus on the positive things that happen in your life making you more upbeat.
- A gratitude journal can remind you to thank others for the things they have done for you and encourage you to do more for them too. A self-sacrificing way of life is a happier one.
- A gratitude journal can help you to constantly look for the good in daily life and this practice will become a habit, causing you to continuously work at channeling negative energy into positive energy.
Why You Should Structure Your Gratitude Journal
Writing a gratitude journal will help you to have a more positive outlook on life. But for your journal to be effective it needs to be well structured. Why?
- Memory aid. A structured journal will help you to easily look back on things that you have been grateful for in the past with a mere glance. Your journal will not be quite so effective if you have to leaf through odd scraps of paper with no dates or format.
- Return the favor. An organized gratitude journal will also make it easier for you to show gratitude to others, highlighting the occasions where people have done nice things for you and encouraging you to do something for them in return.
- Be specific. A structured journal will also help you to pen concrete details rather than just general ideas. Consider the difference between:
- I have generous friends.
- Alice brought me coffee after work.
How To Journal For Happiness
There are so many benefits that come with writing a gratitude journal, but if you are writing yours for the first time, you may be unsure about how you should structure it, what things you should write about, and how you can stay motivated to keep filling your journal with daily entries.
The following information will provide you with some awesome tips that will help you to structure your journal and keep you determined to write in it each and every day.
Make It Special
You’re no doubt keen to start your gratitude journal and fill it every day with the things that you would like to be thankful for. But committing to doing something every day is a lot easier in your head than it is in practice.
One of the best ways to be successful when writing a daily gratitude journal is to make it look special and inviting so that you will feel inclined to pick it up every day. Consider the following tips:
- Purchase a new notebook. Splash out on something beautiful and special. If possible, choose a notebook with dividers or some sort of sectioning that will help you organize your thoughts.
- Purchase a new set of pens. Treat yourself to a new set of pens that you will use exclusively to write your gratitude journal entries. Purchase some highlighters and colorful markers that will help you to color code the most special occasions and make them stand out.
- Leave it to hand. Keep your journal somewhere you will be able to see it every day, like on the top of your bedside table next to a lamp or on your kitchen work surface.
Make It A Habit
You don’t want your gratitude journal to be filled with sporadic entries here and there, so what can you do to make sure that you keep on top of your writing?
- Set an alarm. I know that alarms are annoying, but you should try setting one at the same time each day for the first two weeks of your journal entries to remind you to write in it and help you get used to the routine.
- Set the alarm to go off in the late evening when everything that has happened to you in the day is still fresh in your mind.
- Set the alarm at the right time for you so that it is neither too early causing you to snooze it and then forget about it nor too late so that you are too tired to want to write in it.
- Pair it with other habits. A good way of making a routine of something is to link it to another action you always do. Try pairing your journal entries with brushing your teeth or having a shower as this will make it easier to be consistent.
- Set up a writing space. If you don’t have a dedicated space for writing, it may make it easier for you to put it off. Set your journal up next to a lamp and a chair or somewhere where it will be comfortable for you to pen your thoughts.
- Keep your journal in sight. Placing your journal on a bookshelf is like setting yourself up for failure! Keep it at arms reach from your bed or slap bang in the middle of your dining room table so that you will remember to write in it daily.
Color Code It
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to leaf through your journal looking for that one specific entry and not be able to find it. Color coding your gratitude journal will help you to keep groups of actions together and will make it easier for you to reflect on the good times.
Consider recording your entries in the following groups, highlighting your entry in a different color for each type of gratitude.
- People to thank. Use a color to highlight the entries where the people in your life have done something good to you and you would like to return the favor. Mark these entries with a tick once you have repaid the good deed.
- Surprises. Mark surprises or events that you are especially grateful for in a special color. These could include things like:
- A raise at work.
- A birthday party surprise.
- An unexpected gift from a family member or friend.
- Unanticipated positive outcomes to events – especially ones that you thought would be negative.
- Little lifts. Use a more neutral color to mark the everyday things you would like to be grateful for.
- The universe. Choose a color to mark the days when you are grateful for something you have seen in the natural world such as:
- An awe-inspiring sunset.
- A beautiful scenery.
- A delicate flower.
Using color codes is a great way to group your thoughts and will make it easier for you to look back on the things you have been thankful for.
Whilst writing your gratitude journal entries, make sure you date them so that you can remember when each event happened. Be specific and write AM if the event happened in the morning and PM if it happened in the afternoon. These tags will help to make it easier for you to recall the good times at a later date and relive that same happiness.
You should also consider putting a date next to your entries as it will prompt you to show thanks to others. Write down the date you received something good from someone and when you would like to repay the favor by. The dates in your journal will help you to keep a track of time and will encourage you to thank that person sooner rather than later. It is amazing how quickly time flies!
One of the most important things about putting together a gratitude journal is the content that goes into it. You should arrange your journal in a way that makes it easy for you to look back on the events that made you feel happy. If you are not specific with your journal entries then it will be hard for you to take that trip down memory lane.
Here are a few things that you can do to make your gratitude journal more specific:
- List names. Instead of writing “I have great friends” or “my family is very kind” list the names of the people that have had a great impact on your life. Writing names will make it easier for you to remember happy occasions.
- List places. List the names of the locations where happy events took place so that you can quickly recall past events and relive the same happy feelings.
- List events. Instead of writing “Mom made me feel special today” make sure you include the details about what she did that made you feel special. Include specific points in your writing that will make every entry unique and help you avoid repetition.
Avoid The Negative
We all have days where we feel like nothing has gone our way and it seems like we cannot find anything positive to write about in our gratitude journals. If this is the case then you may need to mention some of the smaller, more mundane things in life that you can be grateful for such as:
- Nature. Have you seen a picturesque sunset, awesome colors on autumn leaves, or beautiful layers of perfect fluffy clouds today? Write these down in the nature section of your journal or highlight them with a specific color and collect moments that help you to appreciate nature.
- Daily necessities. Of course, we are all grateful for the food we have to eat and the clothes we have on our backs, but when was the last time you included these things in your gratitude journal?
- Every day perks. Maybe you haven’t had such a great day, but was there a moment when the traffic lights went green at the intersection just when you needed them to? Or did one of your favorite songs come on the radio? Make sure you note down the day-to-day perks that give you the little lifts you need to get through a rough patch.
- Think about the future. Perhaps you are struggling to find something you can be grateful for today, but what about the future? Do you have a holiday planned that you are looking forward to? Are you organizing an evening out with friends or perhaps a meetup with family at the weekend? Jot it all down as something you are grateful for and can look forward to even on a bad day.
- Who is the one person that you can always rely on?
- Did the weather positively affect your mood today?
- What went well at work today?
- What made you laugh or smile today?
- What do you like about your city?
- What are you grateful for about your home?
- What song are you most grateful for?
- What movie are you most grateful for?
We are all living in a digital age now where people are swapping pens and paper for digital notepads, e-books, and apps. But if you are like me, there is something special about the feel of paper and joy that comes with writing things down in your best calligraphy that makes everything in the writing world feel a little more special.
Even still, many people are swapping physical notepads for digital ones in order to do gratitude journaling. Here’s why:
Add Photos And Videos
Did you take a picture of a certain moment that you feel grateful for? Then with a digital gratitude journal, you will be able to include pictures and videos with your entry and write a few notes along the side about how this event made you feel.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so including a couple of pictures or even a short video in your journal will help you to relive happy moments.
The easiest way to organize your gratitude journal is by going digital. A digital journal will allow you to add pages where you want to and delete entries without making it look messy. With a digital entry, you won’t have to worry about your handwriting and it will be easier for you to look back on specific moments by searching for keywords instead of physically having to leaf through the pages.
Another nice feature that comes with digital journals is that they will allow you to set alarms that will prompt you to write in your journal each day. These prompts are great at helping you to keep up with your writing schedule.
Instead of downloading a general note-taking app, dry downloading a gratitude journal-specific app that will also prompt you with questions that you can answer when you are stuck for ideas.
One of the best things about digital journaling has to be the saving process. A paper journal could be lost, stolen, ruined by water, or even get torn to pieces if left in the way of a mischievous pet. On the other hand, a digital journal could be uploaded onto a cloud so that it is safe no matter if you lose your phone, change it, break it, or the like.
A digital journal will also give you the option to save the locations you have visited with your entries so that you can more easily remember the places that made you feel happy. This could be especially useful if you are in an area that you are not familiar with but would like to return to such as when you are on holiday or even when you are out and about exploring different towns and cities in your country.