Today I’ve invited the lovely Gabrielle over to share with us about Gratitude Journals, as she’s something of an expert on the subject, so I’ll hand over to her to explain more….
You may have heard the term gratitude practice or seen gratitude journals for sale and wondered what gratitude practice is all about. Put simply gratitude practice means making time on a regular basis to recognise, appreciate and be thankful. Practising makes it easier to feel grateful, trains your brain to think more positively and increases your happiness.
More and more research is backing up Robert Emmons and Mike McCullough’s original study, which found that gratitude practice – writing down three things you’re grateful for each day for 21 consecutive days – increases your happiness. This is known as gratitude journaling, it’s simple to do and takes very little time. You can write in a dedicated gratitude journal or in an old notebook. It’s important to write down your three gratitudes, not just think them. It takes longer to write than to think and so by writing your three things you’re embedding them more firmly in your memory. And by writing them down you can look back over your gratitudes at a later date and remember those joyful moments.
Research by Emmons and McCullough has shown the benefits of gratitude practice are significant. As well as increasing your own happiness, which spreads to others, it’s also been shown to lower blood pressure, increase energy, boost your immune system, and cause more feelings of compassion, generosity and joy.
Creating a gratitude practice
To create a gratitude practice all you need to do is write down three specific things at the end of each day that you feel thankful for, that you’re glad about. They don’t need to be big, it can be as simple as noticing a pretty flower in bloom, someone making you a cup or tea, or five minutes to read your book in peace. Be specific so rather than being grateful for your child, write that you’re grateful your child tidied their toys without fuss. However difficult your day is, whatever life has thrown at you there really will be three things you can think of that were good about your day. It will only take one or two minutes so however hectic your life is you can spare a couple of minutes to write in your gratitude journal.
If you’re really struggling to come up with three good things in your day try focusing on different areas of your life. For example, think of the food and drink you consumed, was any of it particularly tasty or prepared for you by someone else? Did your clothes do their job of keeping you warm/cool/dry? Did any of the people you came into contact with make you smile?
Make it a habit
The key to feeling the benefits of gratitude practice is making it a habit. Gratitude needs to be practiced consistently for it to make a difference in your life. Doing it every day will have a significant impact on your wellbeing and happiness. Finding a way to write your three gratitudes every day for at least 21 days will not only help you feel the benefit but also create a gratitude habit.
Gretchen Rubin has written a brilliant book on habits called Better Than Before. She identifies four different personality tendencies – Upholder, Questioner, Obliger and Rebel – and depending on which tendency you identify with you’ll create habits in different ways. You can find out which tendency you are by taking her quiz
Make it easy for yourself to turn your gratitude practice into a habit by putting your notebook somewhere you’ll pick up every day. It could be by the tea bags so you write your three things while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. Or on your bedside table so you write them when you get into bed.
You can employ the theory of habit stacking to help you stick to a daily gratitude practice. Habit stacking is when you group actions together so that you do them one after another, each one acting as a prompt for the next. So, I write in my gratitude journal after I’ve brushed my teeth at night.
Practicing gratitude = increased happiness
It’s called a gratitude practice for a reason, You’ll find as time goes on you become more aware of what you feel grateful for as you go about your daily business, you looking out for what you can write that night. Each time you notice and recognize a good moment in your day you give your happiness a little bump up. And as you become more aware of all the positives in your life, even tiny moments you can be grateful for, your happiness will increase.
Gratitude is my favourite happiness habit and I believe it is the single, most effective action you can take to bring more joy into your life. So why not give it a go?
Gabrielle Treanor is a writer, designer, and avid researcher and practitioner on the subject of happiness. She creates e-courses to empower you to live the happier life of your choosing. You can find out more about Gabrielle’s inspiration, ideas and actions to empower you to live happy your way, and get access to the wealth of resources in the Nook of Inspiration, at gabrielletreanor.com.
I absolutely love this concept and have been taking the time to do this every night here, and it really is a relaxing and joy-filled habit to get in to. Do you like the sound of keeping a gratitude journal?
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