‘The struggle ends when gratitude begins’
Neale Donald Walsch
Being positive can sometimes feel like a constant uphill struggle, right? And often we can find ourselves battling to keep our minds running in the right direction. So how can we stay positive? And how can we fill our lives with optimism and gratitude when – let’s face it – all we see is financial crisis, heartbreak, sickness and death hitting the headlines?
The simple truth is there’s joy everywhere, but it can often be shadowed with sorrow and sadness if you succumb to it. Our answer to this: gratitude journaling (which is hardly a new notion!)
The action of keeping a gratitude journal not only allows you to reflect on all the positive aspects of your day, but – when you do have that inevitable crisis – it reminds you that life has so much to offer. It reaffirms you that you are fortunate – that you have a wonderful life and should fully embrace it!
If you want to benefit from injecting a little positivity into your life, here are my top tips for kick starting your gratitude journaling efforts.
1. Make a conscious effort to be more grateful
It may sound straightforward, but this is central to journaling. Never keep a gratitude journal because you feel obliged to. Feel and believe in what you write. This is, ultimately, how you will reap the benefits of this positive exercise.
2. Don’t limit yourself
This is a difficult one; many sources suggest writing three to five things each day. However, I’ve had days where I can write less or more, and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s important to be flexible; don’t deprive yourself of journaling’s many joys by being too restrictive and rigid.
3. Don’t wait for the right time
There’s no right or wrong time to write when it comes to journaling. Personally, I find logging my journal just before going to bed the most effective. This way, I can reflect on my day and send myself to sleep with a smile. But, if I’ve had a positive experience and develop a burning desire to scribble it down, I make time to do it during the day. For me, this amplifies the positivity I felt and ensures I remember every detail.
4. Focus on people
As much as I love indulging in new pair of shoes, it can never replicate that feeling of pure elation when I’m having fun with my family. With this in mind, focus on writing about people and real-life experiences – not material goods
5. Don’t rush!
Don’t view gratitude journaling as a chore that you have to ‘get through’. The simple action of compiling a list of things you’re grateful for, should – ultimately – fill you with that fuzzy, warm, loved feeling. Take your time – your efforts will pay off.
6. Say no to negativity
If you want gratitude journaling to be as productive as possible, then keep all negative feelings out. Ensure that writing your journal is a purely optimistic exercise.
7. Mix it up
The broader the scope of reasons you have to be grateful, the more you’ll begin to appreciate how truly beautiful the world is. Expand your awareness during the day. Open your eyes. Look up and around.
8. Be open-minded
Schools of thought suggest that it can take up to twenty-one days to form a new habit! Give journaling a chance. Persevere. Commit to three weeks and assess how you feel. Honestly, what do you have to lose?
My gratitude journal hopes to open your eyes to all of life’s wonders and fill your days with positivity. You can download my free gratitude journal here.
Or, for those of you who would prefer something a little more virtual, I would recommend ‘My Gratitude Journal’ – a new gratitude app that uses mindfulness techniques to retrain the brain and help you fully embrace optimism.