There is no doubt in my mind that gratitude journalling is a very effective way of cultivating a habit of happiness. If done effectively, I believe it has the ability to build our resilience during the difficult times and to give an extra oomph of joy during the good times.
I have gratitude journalled on and off for some years now. There are many ways to record our gratitude but I thought I would share my personal tips, tricks and observations, as well as what works most effectively for me presently.
Don’t journal every day
For a couple of years, I wrote down three things I was grateful for Every. Single. Day. Yes, it took me this long to realise that this was not the most effective way to go about it. It became a chore, especially if I missed a couple of days and had to go back and think what I might have been grateful for two days ago. What was I thinking? This was gratitude journalling on auto-pilot. I’m sad to say that on some days, just to fill the quota, I would just think of “stuff” that one should be grateful for, like clean water, a warm bed and good food. That’s not to say one shouldn’t be grateful for these things, I just didn’t feel the gratefulness when I wrote those things down. Which brings me to the next point.
Don’t write it down unless you truly feel it
Last year, while doing a school run with the three kids, my middle child Lucinda (she’s the one on the right in the above photo), decided she would let go of me and run across the two-way road. A car had to stop for her (I remember it like it was yesterday – white late model Mercedes going at the designated school zone 40km/hr) and it gave a gentle beep when Luci stopped in the middle of the road. As for me, I shrieked her name but couldn’t go to save her because one, I was holding on to the hand of my eldest child and carrying my toddler, and two, a car was coming the other way (but must have seen what went down and very kindly stopped to let me cross).
This is an extreme example, but you can probably imagine what the entry in my gratitude journal looked like that day.
The positive effect of gratitude journalling takes time
To quote that old Pantene ad, “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. I have found that, by expressing gratitude regularly, I have a more positive mindset in the way I approach life – both the good bits and the bad. I find it much easier to find positives in difficult or challenging situations because I try to come at them with gratitude for something, however small, in that situation.
Use a blank book and have areas or categories of gratitude
My gratitude journal is split up into various categories which can be added to over time. I have one for my dear husband, one for each of my three children, one for each of health, relationships (with family and friends), home, travel, and so on. This works for me because I can then look back on my entries according to “theme” (for example, if I’m down because it’s been a while since our last holiday, I can revisit the travel section in my gratitude journal to remind myself how fortunate I am to have had many wonderful holidays).
Write down WHY you are grateful
Self-explanatory really. This is related to the point above about really feeling the gratitude. I found writing down why I was grateful for something really got me thinking on a deeper level. I wasn’t simply listing things; I was, in a way, cultivating a positive mindset and coming to an understanding about the abundance of everything I have in my charmed life.
A final note…
When all is said and done, if you already keep a gratitude journal or are thinking of starting one, do what works for you. And don’t be afraid to change it up to suit you as circumstances dictate. If you don’t keep one, I urge you to give it a go.
Oh, and one more thing!
Just in case you’re wondering what this section of the blog is about, I am hoping to post about gorgeous things I’ve found and loved, gorgeous moments captured in images, anything beautiful really that makes me excited to write about and share. Watch this space!