Gratitude Journal: A Powerful Mental Health Practice

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the current state of the world around you? The most effective way to center yourself amidst the chaos of the storm is to start with gratitude.


Gratitude is a demonstration of appreciation for the positive aspects and/or people in your life. Establishing a daily gratitude practice can help to bring light to a negative situation, as well as overcome feelings of insecurity, depression, and anxiety.


One of our favorite methods is by keeping a gratitude journal. When you morph thoughts of thankfulness into written words, you create a more tangible experience, and these words are something you can reflect on.


Journaling gratitude has become popular in the mainstream thanks to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Camila Mendes, and Arianna Huffington. The benefits of gratitude are also backed by scientific evidence.



1. The Power of Positive Psychology


The expression of gratitude is intrinsically linked to the study of positive psychology. “Positive psychology is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior, with a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses.”


This approach focuses on such topics as:


  • Embracing character strengths

  • Cultivating optimism

  • Developing compassion (including self-compassion)

  • Increasing self-esteem and self-confidence

  • Exercising gratitude


The founder of positive psychology Martin Seligman notes that gratitude is one of the most important aspects of happiness. This sentiment has also been echoed by other mental health professions, who believe that individuals who practice gratitude daily can benefit from:


  • Healthier relationships

  • Enhanced physical and psychological health

  • Improved self-esteem

  • Better sleep

  • Less aggression


The power of positive thinking is not just a catch-phrase; it is a way a life that can be adopted by anyone who wants to improve their overall well-being. You can empower yourself using gratitude to create a more affirmative life.


2. Gratitude Journal Science


Have you ever fought through an overwhelming situation or a bad day? Even if there have been a few moments of positivity sprinkled throughout, do you struggle to see the light because you feel consumed by darkness?


When times are tough, it can be difficult to focus your attention on what is good; to bring awareness to your accomplishments, and to trust in the love that others have for you. Some days may seem incredibly taxing and your mind may find it easier to surrender to hopelessness. 


The truth is that no matter what challenges we face, there is always something in our lives that we can turn to, that will bring us joy. There will always be that one great part of our day or that one instance where we laughed so hard that we forgot what was troubling us.


When we are carried away by our worries and anxieties, we lose sight of what is positive. We may recognize that we have things to be grateful for, but we fail to truly know and believe it, within the core of our being. 


Bringing conscious awareness to what you are grateful for is the first step towards happiness, but making a gratitude journal will help to keep your head in the game. When you transform your abstract thoughts into physical words that you can see outside of yourself, they become too real to ignore.


There is a science behind the concept of a gratitude journal; when you express yourself via the written form, you are using both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The act of writing engages the more analytical left side and thus, it frees up the right side, which is more creative and intuitive.


Journaling allows you to use your brain in a more balanced capacity and provides a myriad of benefits. You can achieve a greater sense of clarity, reduce your stress, and improve your ability to solve problems.


Keeping a gratitude journal will also help you to develop accountability for your thoughts and actions. As you incorporate journaling into your daily routine, you are creating a healthy habit that will serve to perpetuate your empowerment and sense of optimism.



3. Expressing Your Personal Style


One of the awesome benefits of journaling is that it provides a creative outlet (which stimulates the right side of the brain). Creating a gratitude journal allows the opportunity for you to express your personal style, in addition to articulating your joy; how cool is that?

Your gratitude journal can be in the form of a simple notebook and pen, or you can upgrade to a more modern approach using a phone app. For the reasons noted above, we recommend writing down notes of what you are grateful for because it can be a more engaging process.  


If you are someone who wants to test the waters, trying a 30-day gratitude journal can help you to get started. This is a great option if you would like to explore gratitude journaling, but are hesitant to fully commit. 


One popular style that has helped to bring gratitude journaling into the mainstream is Oprah Winfrey’s gratitude journal.  For at least a decade, Oprah Winfrey jotted down at least five things that she was grateful for, daily. 


We love this particular style because it is completely manageable as it does not require you to have a passion for writing (not everyone does). You can simply write down, in point form, five things that you are grateful for, and call it a day.


Whatever approach you choose to take, you can turn your daily appreciation into habit-forming, creative venture. Start your day on an encouraging note by considering the wonders that bring you joy.


There are various ways to express gratitude and to incorporate it into your daily routine. When you bring your gratitude to life via the written word, you create more accountability towards your happiness.


Whenever you find yourself caught up in your worries or if you are experiencing anxiety about the future, start with gratitude. By maintaining a daily gratitude practice, you can become more aware of the present moment, and truly appreciate the wondrous gifts that bless your life.


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