Do you keep a gratitude journal?
Do you have a habit of appreciating the things around you?
Why is gratitude so important?
The theme this month for my 2016 self-love project is gratitude. Gratitude isn’t something just for the religious or spiritual people. Everyone could benefit from being a little more thankful and appreciative of what they have.
Keeping a gratitude journal or list is an easy way to remind you to be grateful. I started my gratitude journal in 2015, writing at least three things I’m grateful for each day. Now, it has become a habit and one of the first things I do in the morning.
Why Is It Important to Be Grateful?
In 2013, I went to the United States for the first time and I visited the Space Museum in Washington DC. For some reason, when I was there, I just feel a sense of gratitude for our ancestors who invented the airplane. Perhaps, it was the first time I had been to a country so far away from home, I was just happy and thankful to be given the opportunity to travel to the United States. It wouldn’t be possible without the airplanes.
Gratitude makes you happy.
At work, for instance, if you are grateful to have a job, you would still enjoy your work even if it isn’t something you love to do. On the other hand, if you don’t have any gratitude for your job, you would most likely find yourself complaining:
- “I hate my job. I wish I could this job.”
- “Why are the managers giving me so much work?”
- “Why is my salary so little?”
Being grateful makes you happy. There is always something to be grateful for no matter what stage of life you are in.
Gratitude is similar to love.
Gratitude makes you love yourself too. When you are grateful for being yourself, you are more likely to accept your gifts and weaknesses. You won’t feel a compulsive need to change who you are. This type of love for yourself is unconditional.
However, if you aren’t grateful for who you are right now, you would find a tough time loving yourself. Because your love towards yourself is conditional. You are unappreciative of the good quality you possess. And you want to change your weakness and need to achieve something before you can love yourself.
Gratitude isn’t something you have or doesn’t have. When you practice it daily, you get better at it. Like what I’ve said, one of the best ways is to keep a gratitude journal.
7 Benefits of Gratitude Journal
1. You tap into the abundant energy that gratitude provides.
The energy that gratitude brings is that of abundance and fulfillment. When you write your gratitude journal daily, you tap into that abundant energy. You are telling the Universe you have enough and you are grateful for what you have. When you give out this kind of positive energy daily, you are going to attract similar energies into your life. This is the law of attraction.
Gratitude brings forth a very different kind of energy than striving.
However, if you aren’t satisfied with what you have right now and always wanting more, then you are coming from a place of lack. You are telling the Universe you don’t have enough. And what will the Universe bring you? More lack and dissatisfaction.
When you have a habit of being grateful, you are always in abundance. You are less envious of what others have. You compare less. But if you don’t make gratitude a habit, no matter how much you achieve in the future, you would still not be satisfied with what you have.
2. It keeps you in a good mood and health.
I like to write my journal in the morning because I like to start my day with a good mood. Writing my gratitude journal makes me more calm and peaceful in the morning. It keeps me focused on what I already have. When I go about doing what I have to do for the day, I feel less stressed because I don’t have that dying desire to achieve more.
Gratitude is good for your health.
Some people write their gratitude journal at night because it helps them sleep better. Rather than tossing in bed and worrying about what to do for the next day, writing their gratitude journal brings good feelings and calm them down before they sleep.
And people who are grateful are more optimistic. When challenges and problems arise in their life, they are more able to accept their situation and overcome their challenges.
3. It reminds you of what you already have.
When I had depression last year, I never stop once writing my gratitude journal. It reminded me to appreciate what I have even though I was jobless. I couldn’t imagine what would happen to me if I didn’t continue the habit.
Be mindful of the good things in your life.
During our daily life, we might take things for granted when we get too busy or focused on our work. We might forget the good things in our life. Scheduling a time to write your gratitude journal and making it a daily habit remind you to be grateful for what you already have.
4. You discover things that you don’t normally expect to be grateful for.
When I reviewed my gratitude journal, I was amazed there were a lot of things that I didn’t expect to be on my list. We usually don’t pay much attention to important things in our life until we lose them. Simple things such as our eyes, body, and breath, we seldom appreciate them for function properly until there’s something wrong with them.
Writing a gratitude journal helps you brainstorm what to be grateful for.
You don’t always have things to write in your gratitude journal. But keeping a habit of writing at least three things forces me to look for what to be grateful for. It gives me a chance to look at my surroundings and be thankful for those little things in life. It also challenges my beliefs about what is important.
5. It’s motivating to read what you have written previously.
While I was compiling my gratitude list, I realized that so much has changed over the one year. I no longer am the person I was one year ago.
Keeping a gratitude journal documents your growth.
It’s easy to forget how much we have grown. There isn’t much difference between a day or a week. But if you look back one whole year, it’s really motivating to read how much you have changed over the year.
You will realize the quality of the things you are grateful for also changes. At first, you might be grateful for material things such as money and possessions. But as you keep your journal, you may discover that you are more grateful for life itself. Things such as being alive and healthy.
6. It reminds you to be here now.
Goals and planning help you to think about the future. A gratitude journal helps you to be here now. Every time you write your gratitude journal, it reminds you to give thanks to the things that are already existing in your life. It gives you the opportunity to stop and appreciate the good things in your life before they disappear.
Most people strive but never arrive.
Many people have endless goals they want to achieve. They want to make lots of money, they want to have good relationships and some even want to save the world. But what happens when they achieve their goals? Yet another goal.
You can keep achieving goals but never feel that you achieve anything. That’s because you never arrive. You never truly appreciate what you have achieved. It’s like traveling from countries to countries and never stop and immerse yourself in their culture. You may have gone to many places but you never truly been there.
So stop each day and give thanks to what you have now.
7. It allows you to know more about yourself.
Like with any type of journal, gratitude journal helps you to be more self-aware. It gives you clues to:
- what makes you happy,
- what matters to you the most in life,
- what you can focus on.
For example, when you examine your gratitude journal closely, you will discover some of the things appear very frequently on your list. These are things that are truly important to you.
For the past year, the thing that appears the most in my journal is inner peace and harmony. After my incident of depression, this is one area that I pay the most attention to and I never take inner peace for granted ever again.
Harness The Power of Gratitude
You can easily harness the power of gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal. Schedule a time during the day, preferably at the start of the day or before you go to bed. Just write three things you are grateful for and make it a daily habit. At the end of a year, you will be amazed by how much gratitude you have accumulated.
Next week, I will share the list of things I am grateful for over the past year.
Featured Photo Credit: Chapter Two / Edward Peters