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8 big ways a gratitude journal can help you

journaling self-care Apr 15, 2022

I don't remember how it started exactly.

I was living in Okinawa, Japan working on a Marine Corps base as a psychotherapist. Our work was demanding and stressful.  

Right away, I realized that if I was going to make it, I'd have to do something different than getting worked up over the frustrating and unnecessary hoops we had to deal with.

So every morning as I got in my car and drove away from my home, I started thinking of the things that WERE going right. I started a list of 10 things in my head I was grateful for. 

It became a ritual. I'd drive by the ocean on the way to work (which was enough to be grateful in itself) and say 10 things I was grateful for. By the time I drove through the security gate at the base, I was grounded and ready to go to work to help the Marines I was there to help. 

Later I started writing those 10 things in my journal every day, and since then I've discovered many things about keeping a gratitude journal since then. 

A gratitude journal can do so much for you. 

It could seem like a pipe dream that writing in a journal could be so beneficial. But the scientific evidence is in, and gratitude journals do benefit you in big ways if you keep one for the long term and use it daily. Here are 8 ways that keeping a gratitude journal will help you. 

1. Experience Stronger and More Fulfilling Relationships

You are the one who makes yourself happy with your own choices. Another person cannot make you happy or grateful. Only you can do that. But something amazing happens when you express gratitude often in your relationships. So go ahead and not only say something you're grateful for to that person but write in your journal as well about who and what you're grateful for. 

2. Become Physically Healthier

Being grateful for the ability to move and breathe will eventually cross over into wanting to ensure that you can always do that. Therefore, you’ll be more motivated to go on walks, eat right, stay hydrated, and live in gratitude for every aspect of your life.

3.  Increase Your Mental Dexterity

The ability to take lemons and turn them into that sweet lemonade can be gained by keeping a gratitude journal. The main reason is that you will learn on even a bad day how to pick out the good in it. That requires a good imagination and creativity and thinking on your feet.

4. Feel Less Aggression in Your Life

It’s hard to feel aggressive if you’re happy and grateful. It’s possible to be angry about injustices in the world without being aggressive. But if you feel angry a lot due to your life, it could be due to not finding the things to be grateful for. There’s almost always something to feel grateful about. 

5. Become More Empathetic

As you write more and learn to forgive yourself as you seek to fill your mind with thoughts of gratitude, you will start seeing others differently. You’ll have more ability to put yourself in their shoes and see things their way without judgment. This happens when you learn to forgive yourself and to be self-compassionate. 

6. Get More Restful Sleep

If you're anxious but go to sleep each night feeling thankful for everything you’ve experienced (or at least most of it), it’s easier to sleep because you have less anxiety.

When you focus on what IS going right vs worrying about what's not going right, things shift. I challenge you to think of 10 things you’re grateful for before you close your eyes and go to sleep. And then notice what happens to any anxiety you might have. 

7. Get More Done Every Day

When you’re more rested, less stressed, and more grateful, you’ll have more energy to get things done every day. That ís always going to make you feel even more thankful because good things happen due to productivity.

8. Feel Better about Yourself

You can’t help but feel better about yourself when you can look at your life with gratitude.  Your self-esteem will go up when you express gratitude for what your mind and body can do for you.

If you want to be happier, get more done in life, and experience real joy in life, a gratitude journal can be a really cool and easy way to achieve it.

The guiding thing to remember is that your thoughts cause your feelings, and you are the one in control of the actions you take once you accept your feelings. Accepting that you do have control is half the battle, and your journal will make it clear that you do.

Over to you:

Decide today to get out your journal and write 10 things you're grateful for. 

Get a journal that's dedicated fust to your gratitude. 

Have fun with this process and notice what shifts and changes in your life. 

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