Just over 6 months ago, I was talking to one of my university flatmates about all things self-help and he mentioned a gratitude journal that he’d been using for a while that he really liked. It was called The Five Minute Journal and it was a beautifully simple idea. You write in it for a few minutes in the morning and evening and it’s designed to bring more gratitude into your life.
I liked it so much that I went on Amazon and ordered myself a copy. To begin with, I struggled to get into the habit of remembering to write in it every morning and evening but within a month it was a part of my routine and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Here are some of the top things I’ve learned from completing my first 6 months of a gratitude journal.
1) It’s an easy habit to get into
It may seem like a lot of hassle to carve out the time in your busy routine to sit down and write in a gratitude journal…twice a day, but it’s actually a really easy routine to get into.
You only need a few minutes in the morning and evening to answer the simple questions…what are you grateful for today? What are 3 things that would make today great?..and the longer you do the journal, the quicker you get at answering the questions!
It’s like you’re training your mind to become more grateful and it definitely takes some time to get used to but it’s a wonderful habit to get into!
2) It makes you appreciate the simple pleasures in life
For such a simple practice, doing a gratitude journal has made me feel incredibly abundant in my life. It’s given me more of an appreciation for the simple pleasures in my day. Like walking to work in the sun, or watching a movie with some chocolate, or doing an evening stroll to look at the city lights. Suddenly I’m more aware of these small moments of joy and my days feel more special because of it.
3) You stop taking thing for granted
I’ve also developed more gratitude for the bigger things I value in my life. Like my family and friends, having good health, the opportunities I have…things that it’s easy to take for granted if you don’t actively focus on them.
The other night I woke up at 3am with toothache and I had to get up and watch a movie while I waited for the painkillers to kick in. The following morning, I wrote about how I was grateful for usually having no health complaints! You can even become grateful for things that would typically seem awful!
4) There is so much good in life
I find that it can be easy to feel like your days are blurring together in one big ‘Groundhog Day’ of working, commuting, chores and sleeping. But after 6 months of doing my gratitude journal, it’s made me realise that there is so much more to life than that.
A beautiful sunset, date night with my boyfriend, a phone call with a friend from home, writing a letter to my grandma, sitting in the sun…there are so many moments during my day that feel special and remind me that life is so much more than just the things you have to do.
5) You can always find something to be grateful for
There are just those days sometimes where nothing seems to be going your way. It’s horrible weather outside, you’re running late for work, you have a bit of a cold coming on…even on those days I find that there is always something to be grateful for.
Maybe it’s that you slept well that night, have good health (in general), have a wonderful partner or loving family…if you really look you’ll be able to find something good to cheer you up even on your worst days!
6) You learn to appreciate the things that matter most
Looking back through my gratitude journal, it was always similar things that made it onto my list of the three best things that had happened that day. Things like keeping in touch with friends and family, doing yoga, going for date night with my boyfriend…things that make me feel connected with others and also with myself.
The great thing about finding patterns in the things that make your list of best moments that day, is that you know which things to focus your attention on in the future. If you’re having a down day, you know the things that will cheer you up.
7) It helps you improve your daily routine
I’ve found that my day to day routine has gotten a lot better since doing my gratitude journal. Because I have a better sense of what makes me happy at the end of each day, I can make more of an effort to include those things in my routine.
A big one for me is doing yoga. More than just giving me a chance to stretch, I find that it makes me feel relaxed and goes a long way in helping to clear my head of any worries or concerns drifting around in there. Knowing that I’ll always be grateful at the end of the day for having done a yoga routine, I try and make time for it as much as possible.
8) It’s a great way to record special moments
Looking back through my gratitude journal I feel an amazing sense of abundance. Reading through the highlights from each day, I am transported back to moments when I was happiest and it makes me very thankful for the many special things that have happened over the last six months.
I’m already onto my next gratitude journal and looking forward to all the special moments to come!
– Tiger Lily –