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7th May, 2020

Do you have a gratitude journal?

When it comes to improving your own happiness, there are countless different avenues, all promising results. Eating healthier, exercising, buying certain items, meditating, and yoga are all much proclaimed pathways to increased happiness, but one particular practice has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years. With large amounts of scientific research to back up its success, and many participants recording more happiness and general life satisfaction after a few weeks, this is something that stands out, and something that anyone can do, regardless of health, age or ability.

That practice is the practice of gratitude.

Now, it may sound far-fetched to believe that simply being more grateful for things will have a significant impact on your life, but studies have shown that people who regularly record aspects of their life that they are grateful for, have shown greater levels of happiness after doing it for just a few weeks.

Gratitude can mean different things to different people. It can mean being grateful for things that happened in your life; it can mean being grateful for the people or things around you; or it could be being grateful for a way of feeling more abstract things, such as faith or love.

Why does gratitude journaling work?

Practicing gratitude not only helps us to recognise the good things around us, but also it helps to unshackle toxic or negative thoughts, or in some cases see them from a more positive perspective.

Though gratitude takes some time to have an impact on the brain, studies have shown that the process has lasting effects on the brain afterwards.

For a majority of people who record journaling, they note that after doing it for a while, it is easier to notice aspects of their life that they are grateful for. This in turn leads them to be more satisfied with their life in general. In the midst of the current global pandemic, it’s a great time to focus on the positives in our lives - and to remind ourselves of all of the good things that happen on a daily basis.

How to start a gratitude journal

Though you can buy a dedicated gratitude journal, simply writing down a few points each night before you go to bed can help you experience the positive impact.

There are other methods of practicing journaling, such as writing letters to people you are grateful for, but the easiest method is to simply record your thoughts on a regular basis.

If you are interested in starting this for yourself to see what your results are like, here are some tips to help.

1. Quality over quantity

When you sit down to write your list don't feel under any pressure to fill out a page every day. Instead, it is best to try and examine your life a bit more deeply to see what you have to be grateful for.

2. Don’t worry if you miss a day

We’re all human. Some days we might miss a day or two and that is perfectly fine. You should still experience the same positive impact even if you only journal a couple of times a week so don’t stress trying to remember it every single day.

3. Keep your journal in plain sight so you remember to fill it in

It is hard to form a habit, especially when our lives are so filled with other distractions. With this in mind, it can help to leave your journal somewhere you will see it and be reminded to fill it in. If you like doing it at night and reflecting on the day then try leaving it on your nightstand.

Tried gratitude?

With the current Covid-19 pandemic, and the ensuing lockdown, it’s easy to lose sight of all of the positive moments that we have in our lives on a daily basis. One way to help promote positive thinking is by going back through previous journal entries, and reminiscing on wonderful memories. Perhaps you’ve kept journals from treasured holidays or trips? If so, looking back on these can be a great way to remind yourself of all of the exciting plans yet to come in the future. After all, it’s never too soon to start dreaming of your next big adventure.

Have you tried keeping a gratitude journal? Let us know what your experiences have been, and if you have any tips or tricks to share, then let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.