From the great spiritual masters of old to the scientific researchers of today, gratitude is widely renowned as being a life changing practice. It is called a practice – not a feeling – because it takes a dedicated practice to experience the amazing mental and physical health benefits. One great way to begin a gratitude practice is by starting a gratitude journal. Here we will explore 5 reasons why you should start a gratitude journal.
More Than “Thank You”
Saying thank you to express your gratitude throughout the day is important. However, we have been saying it on autopilot since we were told to say it by our parents when we were young children who didn’t understand the importance of gratitude.
Expressing gratitude is associated with many different health benefits – both mental and physical.
When we fall out of gratitude, we fall into negative mindsets.
These include jealousy, self-pity, insecurity, scarcity, narcissism, ingratitude, selfishness, envy, resentment, regret, depression, entitlement, need for admiration or approval, vanity, and skewed perceptions of reality, etc.
These negative mindsets can ruin your work life, love life, relationships with others, and your relationship with yourself. Not to forget that these types of mindsets can have both physical and mental negative effects on our health and well-being.
Adopting a gratitude practice is adopting a new way of life for the absolute best reasons. A popular method used today is starting a gratitude journal.
There are many ways to start a gratitude journal. Many people write out a list every morning of what they feel grateful for in their lives. These can be anything – big or little – that cultivate feelings of being grateful.
It can be the sun shining. Waking up to a new day full of new opportunities. The roof over your head. Your friends. Your pet. Your family. Your job. Yourself.
Even in the darkest of times, there is still something that you can find to be grateful for. Breathing in and out without health complications. Having two legs to walk. A heart that beats day in and day out to keep you alive. Kind strangers that smile at you as you walk by.
If you find it difficult at first or that you are being phoney, it will get easier as the practice continues to strengthen and grow. You will find more and more things to be grateful for and the feeling of gratitude will fill you completely, head to toe, with no room for anything negative.
Another way to start a gratitude journal is to write a letter to someone or something you are grateful for. Write out every reason why you are grateful for them and how they have helped you. It can be a friend or family member, a boss or colleague, or even your dog.
You don’t have to give them the letter if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Simply the act of writing it out and cultivating those feelings will uplift your mood and mindset. Although, I’m sure the recipient would also be grateful to read it. This can help strengthen the relationships in your life.
Mental and Physical Benefits
Physical benefits of starting a gratitude journal include fewer aches and pains, lower inflammation, less fatigue, and better sleep. These have been tried and tested by rigorous scientific study.
Physical benefits also include the effects of those who practice gratitude making better decisions when it comes to diet and taking care of their bodies.
The mental health benefits are what makes gratitude such a life altering practice. Having a gratitude journal can increase self-esteem, resilience, empathy, compassion, happiness, life satisfaction, patience, humility, and wisdom.