Gratitude journaling is the process of recording thoughts, feelings, and experiences of gratitude. These records can be as structured or unstructured as the writer prefers. Some like to make intricately decorated planners with specific outlines for every day while others are content to jot down a few notes on an app. At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal. That is the idea of what a gratitude journal is, but why keep one?
The Impact of Gratitude
A recent study completed during the pandemic revealed that people who regularly expressed and consciously took note of gratitude were able to build more positive mindsets. One participant noted, “After exactly one week, things that I was grateful for began to pop up in my head. Waking up in the morning, washing my face and hair, eating food . . . I realized that I do not really have to think deeply. And so this became more fun, I had more to write about, and on some days, I had too much to write, and there was not enough (space)” (Ko, Kim, & Kim, 2021, pg. 6).
Gratitude journaling has also been applied in addiction recovery programs. It helps individuals trying to overcome addiction to see the good in their lives. It enables them to “express gratitude, plan activities, and set goals; and also to notice change over time, guide self-discovery, identify issues to work on, gain emotional relief, and acknowledge successes [. . .] For many, the journal would function as a mirror, providing perspective on past, present, and future self” (Krentzman et al., 2018).
In my own experience, journaling has helped me see things with greater clarity. My gratitude journal helped me find the good in some of the most difficult times of my life. Our invitation is to reflect on things that make a positive difference in our life, make a physical note of them (on an app, physical notebook, etc.), and observe how that experience changes mindsets. We know happiness is out there! As we make a note of it we will find greater light and joy and the frequency of positive experiences in our lives will literally increase as our frame of reference shifts toward observing, looking for, and recognizing the good that exists all around us.
- Ko, H., Kim, S., & Kim, E. (2021). Nursing Students’ Experiences of Gratitude Journaling during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Healthcare, 9(11), 1473. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9111473
- Krentzman, A. R., Goodenough, K. E., Banerjee, R., & Daughters, S. B. (2018). Gratitude and Positive Activity Planning to Support Recovery from Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders. http://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/219540