Starting a Gratitude Journal Group
Does it seem like life is busier than ever before? You are always putting out fires or handling obligations, and it all becomes a blur. When you’re always hustling, it can be challenging to find the joy in life. That, in turn, makes it hard to be grateful. Fortunately, you don’t have to make a significant life change to bring gratitude into your life. You can accomplish it by starting a gratitude journal on JournalOwl. Committing as little as five minutes a day to writing in a gratitude journal can change your life for the better.
Writing in a gratitude journal has been proven to benefit people mentally, socially, and physically. If you’re like most people, your mental health could use a boost. If so, you need to increase your level of gratitude. Research has shown that dedicating five minutes a day to writing in a gratitude journal can increase happiness by more than 10 percent (Courtney E. Ackerman, 2020). When you notice what you have, you end up with a more positive outlook in life. You realize that you have so much to be grateful for, so you can’t help but be happy!
Over the next 21 days, we will guide you through a series of daily questions and prompts to help you reflect upon what you are most grateful for in life. All we ask for is 5 minutes of your day, starting today, to reflect on what makes you grateful. Hands-on keyboard, butt in seat, and get ready to start declaring your gratitude!
Step 1: Write a Thank You Letter
You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month to someone in your life. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
Trust the process. You will write a thank you letter today and digitally share it with someone.
Step 2: What I am Grateful for About Myself
Don’t limit yourself when creating a gratitude journal. Use a mixed-media format so you can include images, audio, text, and video if you wish. That way, you can express yourself the way you want each time you create a new entry. For instance, you might typically love typing your entries, but then you get a gift that you’re grateful for and want to include a picture. You can include a picture of the present and then add text if you wish. You could also add a video of you excitedly talking about it. By expanding your options, you’ll find it easier to express gratitude. It will be natural and authentic, allowing you to reap the benefits.
Step 3: Grateful for Technology
More and more people are journaling online with JournalOwl because it’s much easier. When you use an online tool, you can log into your journal anytime. That means you can easily journal if you’re on vacation or if you have a spare minute at work. Also, an online journal is easy to search, so you can go back and look at old entries if you wish. Finally, when you use an online tool, you don’t have to worry about something happening to your journal. Imagine if you kept a notebook journal, and you lost it. All that hard work would be gone. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that when your journal is online.
Step 4: Grateful for Food
When you write in your gratitude journal, don’t just focus on the obvious. Journaling provides a chance for you to find gratitude in the obscure. Author A.J. Jacobs recommends embracing six degrees of gratitude (Jacobs, 2018). He notes that many things in life are dependent on large numbers of people. Take your food during Thanksgiving, for instance. You might love cranberry sauce, so you’re thankful for the company that makes it. As Jacobs notes, though, a farmer had to grow the cranberries before they could become a sauce. Then a trucker had to transport the cranberries to the factory. Someone else designed stop signs and traffic lights to prevent accidents so the trucker could make his way to the factory. Still, another person mined the copper that was used in the traffic lights.
This might sound silly, but when you dig down and follow the chain of gratitude, you learn to count your blessings. Use this practice when writing in your gratitude journal.
Step 5: Take Time to Smell the Roses
Your days are full of things to be grateful for, and it’s your job to spot them. On your 5th day of this 21-day challenge to gratitude, pay attention to the world around you. Look for little surprises and other reasons to be grateful. You’ll be amazed by how many great things happen in your life each day. This act alone will make you more grateful. Then you can compound that gratitude by writing about it in your journal. After a few weeks of doing this, you’ll have a little extra spring in your step. People will take notice that you seem more appreciative and happier overall. It’s easy to feel satisfied when you realize that there is so much good in the world.
Step 6: Flipping Negative into Positive
Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. To be grateful, you have to be mindful of the event. When writing in your gratitude journal, write mindfully. You need to focus on the person or event and reimagine it. When you do this, you will re-experience the person or thing you’re grateful for (Fountain, 2007). If you fail to do this, you won’t enjoy the benefits of a gratitude journal.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t excel at this right away. It can take some time to journal mindfully. You’ll know when you get it right. You’ll feel like you’re going through the experience again. Then you will feel a burst of gratitude. That’s when you have accomplished the goal of mindful gratitude journaling.
Step 7: Find the Silver Lining in Everything
If you write in a gratitude journal daily, you will eventually experience grief while trying to count your blessings. Your natural reaction might be to ditch your gratitude journal so you can mourn. Morning is necessary, but you can do that with your gratitude journal.
Paula Phelps keeps a daily gratitude journal (Whelan, 2017). She’s written in it for years and continued the practice when she lost her brother-in-law. She was devastated by the loss but managed to write entries about her gratitude that he was no longer suffering. She was also grateful for the years they had spent together. She expressed her gratitude in her journal, and that helped her through the morning process. It was also an excellent way to honor her loved one. This is an excellent example of continuing to embrace gratitude in times of sorrow. The world isn’t always a happy place, but you should still look for the silver lining. When you can do that, you have finally embraced gratitude.
Step 8: Life is Like a Box of Chocolates - You Never Know What You'll Get!
Life is full of little surprises. For instance, maybe you’re at the drive-through, and the person in front of you pays for your order, or someone sees you struggling with packages and stops to help. These are just two examples of possible surprises you might encounter. Surprises tend to create stronger levels of gratitude, so write about them as often as you can (Greater Good in Action, n.d.).
Step 9: Pull Yourself Up by the Boot Straps
You're now on Day 9 of the 21 Days to Gratitude Journaling. Some people get into a gratitude rut at this point. They find something they’re grateful for and write about it over and over again. That’s where journal prompts can be helpful. You need to fill your journal with different items. If you do write about the same person or thing, explore different aspects. You’ll stop getting all the benefits of gratitude if you continue to repeat yourself, so this is important.
Step 10: Daily Rituals Creates Positive Change
The word “habit” has so many negative connotations. When you think of a habit, you probably think of things you need to avoid, like drinking too much or smoking. While there are undoubtedly bad habits, journaling is a good habit. Getting into the habit of journaling will allow you to maximize your gratitude level. You can quickly create a habit by journaling daily. At first, you will need to remind yourself that you need to write in your journal, but it will become second nature before long. You’ll even start to crave writing in your journal.
To further solidify the habit, create a ritual around writing in your journal. Then your mind will associate specific cues with writing in your journal. For example, you can light a candle before you write in your journal. After a while, when you light the candle, your brain will crave writing in your journal. Also, try to write in your journal around the same time each day. This will help you turn it into a habit. Of course, if you have an urge to write in your journal in the morning when you usually write in the evening, go ahead and do it. Your journal is for you to enjoy, so don’t deprive yourself.
Step 11: The Power of Smells
One of the best parts of keeping a journal is it can be for your eyes only. So few things in life are truly private. However, you don’t have to share your journal with anyone. Keep that in mind when writing your entries. When you remember the words are for your eyes only, you will feel a sense of freedom. It’s much easier to express yourself when you don’t have to worry about anyone else seeing what you write. You won’t censor yourself, so you’ll dig deep and express your gratitude.
Step 12: Describe Your Best Cup of Coffee
My favorite part of this morning was enjoying a steaming hot cup of coffee while lounging in bed. The steam floated up to my nose, bringing the rich smell of a pecan coffee roast, my favorite. It’s the perfect blend of sweet pecans and rich coffee, and I took a moment to savor the steam and scent before finally bringing the oversized cup to my lips. It was even better than I imagined – it had the perfect amount of creamer and sugar, and the hot liquid hit my taste buds immediately and warmed my throat as I took my first sip. I closed my eyes and savored the taste, enjoying the quiet of the early morning as well as the bold flavors. It was the perfect moment for me and reminded me that I’m blessed to enjoy these little things - the quiet, the coffee, the steam.
Step 13: Living Your Words
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
– John F. Kennedy
Step 14: Don't Take Anything for Granite
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William Arthur Ward
Step 15: Count Your Assets -- all of them!
"If you count all your assets, you always show a profit." Robert Quillen
Step 16: Be Grateful for Difficult People
"The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement." Charles Schwab
Step 17: Has anyone sparked your flame lately?
"At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." Albert Schweitzer
Step 18: Learn to Love Where You Live
"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." Oprah Winfrey
Step 19: Focus on What You Can Do
"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful." Buddha
Step 20: Let the Melody of Music Fill Your Heart with Gratitude
"Forget yesterday--it has already forgotten you. Don't sweat tomorrow--you haven't even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift--today." Steve Maraboli
Step 21: Be the Light You Want to See in the World
"I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I'm going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity, and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice." Mike Ericksen