There’s no doubting that things are currently looking rather bleak. With UK deaths fast approaching 1,000 a day, an economic crisis looming on the horizon and an ecological crisis not far behind, it can be hard to stay positive. Jobs have been lost, families are unable to pay their bills and much anticipated celebrations and events have been cancelled.
I myself have been extremely fortunate by most measures, but I’ve still had a few spanners thrown into my plans. At the start of January I gave three month’s notice to leave my job and with my boyfriend due to finish his PhD in March, we planned for April to be the beginning of a new adventure travelling the world. With my sister already travelling around South-East Asia this would start with a family reunion in Indonesia where I’d celebrate turning thirty. Instead, I’ve swapped Bali for Bristol and moved back in with my parents, while my sister is stuck in the Philippines for the foreseeable future.
But while it’s easy to focus on the negatives, I think we could all benefit from spending some moments each day thinking about what we are grateful for. One of the ways I’ve begun experimenting with doing this is through keeping a gratitude journal.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
Gratitude journaling involves spending time thinking about what you are thankful for and writing it down. Some people may like to do this at the start of the day, others may prefer to do it in the evening, using it as a diary to reflect back on what has happened. You may choose to do it less frequently, there’s no right or wrong way to fill out a gratitude journal, it’s personal to you.
Even in such dramatic and scary times the reality is that there are a lot of good things still happening which we take for granted. As Joni Mitchell famously sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you to acknowledge and appreciate those things while they’re still there.
So with that in mind, here are a few of the things I’m feeling grateful for today.
What I’m Grateful For
- I’m grateful that my family are healthy
- I’m grateful that I got to eat hash browns for dinner
- I’m grateful that my sister has a good internet connection
- I’m grateful that the sun is shining
- I’m grateful that I can live with my family
- I’m grateful that my family have a garden
- I’m grateful that I have savings
- I’m grateful to everyone who is helping to fight this deadly virus
- I’m especially grateful to those on the front line who are putting their own lives at risk
- I’m grateful for Gogglebox making us laugh on Friday nights
- I’m grateful for being able to catch-up with my best friend virtually over video call
- I’m grateful that I have access to plenty of food and safe drinking water
- I’m grateful that my family never threw out the Wii
How Do I Start a Gratitude Journal?
Keen to inject a regular dose of positivity into your life? Well the great thing about gratitude journaling is the extremely low barrier to entry. You don’t need a fancy notepad or a pretty template – although there are plenty available online! A standard diary or pad of paper will do. You can even record your thoughts via an app such as Presently.
Why not spend five minutes now answering the following?
- Today I am grateful for…
- The best part of today was…
- One kind thing I did today was…
Any Other Tips?
The important thing is to make it a habit and build it into your routine, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Perhaps you could fill out your gratitude journal while drinking your morning coffee? Or put it next to your bed ready to complete before you go to sleep.
To avoid repetition try to focus on specifics and appreciate the little things. Instead of writing that you’re grateful for having a close friend, try to focus on what they did that made you feel this way or how you spent your time together. That way when you read back through your journal in future the memory will be more fresh in your mind.
Is It Proven to Work?
A gratitude journal helps you to build empathy with others and increases your level of satisfaction with the world. There’s evidence to suggest that keeping a gratitude journal can have physical and mental health benefits. It also allows you to increase your mental strength, building resilience against life’s obstacles and maintaining your own sense of happiness.
Whether or not it works for you in the long run, I think taking a few minutes to reflect on the good things in our lives once or twice a week is something we could all get a much needed boost from.
Will you be starting a gratitude journal? Let me know in the comments.