The term “gratitude journal” has been casually bandied about ever since Oprah announced that is was part of her daily practice to sit down and list all of the things for which she is grateful. The concept of reflecting upon and writing down what we appreciate is one we’d all like to carve into our regular routine, but the actual practice is often eluded as the day slips away and our heads are finally able to hit the pillow (while journals remain closed in bedside bureaus).
Here are some easy tips that will really help get you started on writing a gratitude journal. And since practicing the art of gratitude is a simple way to boost both mental and physical health, the sooner we get started, the better!
First things first – Get a Journal! Some people (self included) are intimidated by fancy, new journals because they don’t want to mess up their pristine pages. So choose a journal that you feel comfortable writing in. I love Ecojot’s collection of 100 percent recycled paper journals. There’s a wide selection of vibrant, cheery styles, in varying sizes that will make your practice fun and convenient.
List one, not ten things you’re grateful for. Many are daunted by the task of sitting down at day’s end to summon up a long-ish list of ten things throughout the day that they are grateful for. So start small, and write down one thing you’re grateful for. If doing so has a domino effect and you can happily add to your list, keep your session going. If not, be happy with your mindfulness for that one moment, close your journal and go to sleep with a smile on your face.
Write in your gratitude journal any time of day, throughout the day. If nighttime isn’t the right time, take your journal off your nightstand and place it in the room in your home in which you spend most of your time, or tote it in your bag for on-the-go easy access. This way, you’ll be able to reach for it and write in it at will as gratitude dons on you – and you can avoid scratching your head in the evening when you’re tired and trying to recall all of the day’s events.
Think outside the pages. Is the thought of cracking open an archaic paper journal a laugh to you, given your prowess in the digital age? Don’t feel obligated to hand-write your thoughts across paper. As the new saying goes, “there’s an app for that!” iTunes offers a program called Gratitude! Journal Positive Thoughts, so your iPhone can double as your gratitude journal, and you won’t have to worry about its whereabouts!
Accentuate the positive. If you’ve had a particularly crummy day, don’t bail on your gratitude session. Bad days are when we’re most in need of the perspective that being appreciative has to offer. Do your best to accentuate anything positive in your life, even if it doesn’t relate to anything that happened that day. It can be as basic but as vital as, I’m grateful for my beating heart!