We get it, gratitude journaling can sound cringey.
The idea is you write intentionally about the things you’re grateful for in your day or life more widely, and the act is picking up speed, adopted into the rituals of more and more people.
From dating app bios to Instagram accounts, devotees are becoming more vocal doing this – and without shame.
Why? Consciously practicing gratitude has shown to boost wellbeing, and in spiritual terms is said to help with the manifestation process (if that’s something you believe in).
Whatever the motive, we can all agree that showing a bit more appreciation for the things we have in life is never a bad thing.
Gratitude can help shift your perspective and make you feel more uplifted.
Why is gratitude journaling having a moment now?
Trends prediction and reporting company WGSN believe that due to the hybrid working situations many of us now have, we’re in a phase of what they’re calling ‘snackable lifestyle’, which means daily activities have become bitesize.
This means more people are taking quick restorative breaks to recharge throughout the working day – that might mean a 10-minute meditation video, a walk in the park at lunch, or a quick jotting down in a journal.
Just 10 minutes of journaling away from a laptop can have a positive influence over your mood and studies have shown it can even improve your focus.
People making the habit of this are reaping the benefits.
Notebook and journal brand Papier has sold over 60,000 wellness journals since October 2020, and this month they’ve launched gratitude specific journals, of which they expect to sell four times as many between November and January alone, when compared to the same period last year.
A passing trend or a life-changing habit? You decide.
How to start a gratitude journal
There’s no set formula to gratitude journaling – the idea is it’s highly personal.
Papier’s range includes prompts for morning and evening, along with separate reflection pages and mindful activity suggestions.
It’s individualised and you might find a set routine here works best, as does having a little more room for flexibility.
Joanne Bell, founder of Write to Thrive, which she describes as a ‘soulful space for self-exploration through expressive writing’, tells us: ‘There’s no doubt that gratitude journaling can be powerful and uplifting, as a swathe of recent research proves.
‘It can boost our mood, reduce stress and help us gain perspective, particularly useful in times of uncertainty and transition.’
Yet even knowing this, it can be hard to start and sustain the practice.
Journaling when life feels hard
Sometimes life is difficult and we might not feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Jo says in these moments, step back to the basics around you to feel your way back to a state of gratitude.
‘Start with the question: What am I grateful for within myself? Then expand slowly outwards, including the room you are in, the house, the local area, the country, the world, the universe,’ she suggests.
‘Take at least two minutes for each part of this exercise, and by the end, you’ll have generated a beautiful, expansive list.’
You can also go back to positive memories, writing about all the senses – see/hear/touch/smell/taste.
Welcome your feelings
‘Before you begin, set a timer for ten minutes and write about how you’re feeling in general,’ Joanne says.
It’s important to ‘allow space for all emotions – rage, anger, jealousy, frustration’ and is a place to practice honesty.
‘Without this gratitude can feel forced and ineffectual, and if you feel resistance to journaling on what you’re thankful for come back and repeat this step first.’
When and where
Joanne believes morning is a great time to do your journaling, but also suggests experimenting.
‘You can jot something on your phone during your lunch break, reflect at night, or experiment with different times,’ she notes.
‘Writing at the same time every day makes it much more likely to become a habit, so when you’ve settled on a slot that works give it a go.
‘I like to have my gratitude lists at the back of a notebook, or the top of my daily planner.’
Be realistic with yourself – suddenly finding 20 minutes each day to write is going to feel unattainable.
Joanne says to begin with just a few minutes, which will still be beneficial.
‘When you begin you can list, mindmap or write continuously.
‘Everything that touches and teaches us can be part of gratitude journaling; start with expressing thanks for the pen in your hand, the paper you are writing on. Nature is a rich source for this too.’
Quick prompts to try:
Today I’m grateful for _______
I choose to be grateful for _______
I’m grateful for _______ as it taught me that _______
I’m grateful that I didn’t _______as_______
Things that have brought me joy today are _______
Jo says: ‘You need to feel gratitude for everything you write down; it’s not a tick box exercise.
‘A great way to access this is to add “because” after each item that comes to you.
‘Think about life without it – for example, imagining you don’t have a car makes it easier to express gratitude for your journey to work, even if there’s traffic.’
Once set, the key is to repeat this small gesture daily.
‘Like anything, we only see real benefits when we integrate this regularly however, it’s natural to miss the odd day or two,’ Joanne says.
‘If you fall out of the habit, don’t beat yourself up: instead, applaud finding your way back. See if you can find gratitude for the process and what it revealed.
‘Perhaps you need to put your notebook beside your bed or find a daily time when you won’t be disturbed.’
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