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How to Start a Gratitude Journal

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Learn how to begin a gratitude journal and the benefits and uses for a gratitude journal.

Gratitude journals can come in many forms and can have many uses.  They can be written on paper with a pen; painted, drawn, or decoupaged onto canvas, cardboard, or in a scrapbook; typed and saved as a computer file; recorded on video or as an audio clip.  The possibilities are endless.  People make gratitude journals for many reasons... to de-stress, to practice the law of attraction, to change their thought patterns to focus on positive, to meditate, to start or end the day on a positive note, to realize how many things they have to be thankful for (once again, the possibilities are virtually endless).  What should you do to get started with your gratitude journal?

1. Choose a format.  The options listed in the previous paragraph are just a few ideas.  Be creative and find what will work best for you.  It's best to find something easily accessible, like a notebook or hard-bound journal.  You may want something small that can easily be slipped into your purse or briefcase to take with you, or you may prefer something larger that you can leave at home.  It's completely up to you; it can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.  For the purpose of this article, I'll focus on pen and paper format for journaling.

2. Pick a time and frequency.  Do you want to write every day before bed?  Daily before you get out of bed?  Maybe once or twice weekly when you have dedicated time to yourself?  It's your journal and therefore you can write as frequently or infrequently as you'd like.  Keep the appointment with yourself so that you can get into the habit of sitting down and writing, and to get into the positive thinking pattern as well.

3. Write.  Choose a format that makes you most comfortable.  You could write a letter, make a list of things you're grateful for, draw pictures,add stickers, or add photographs.  You can set a limit or a goal for yourself.  For example, your goal may be to list five things you're grateful for each day. 

4. Analyze.  After the initial list of things that you're grateful for (a safe home, your family, healthy food to eat, a successful career, etc.) it may get more difficult to think of new things daily.  This is when you will need to dig deep.  Think about specific experiences during the day; For example,  something that may have seemed stressful or discouraging may have turned out well.  Did something out of the ordinary happen?  Did you take advantage of an opportunity?  Did an old friend contact you?  Maybe it's something that we seen on the news that happened to make you take another look at the blessings in your life.  Are you grateful to have use of your limbs, or thankful that your vehicle is safe and reliable?  This part of journaling will be challenging but will get easier as you go.

5. Keep it up.  Sometimes you miss a day or two here and there, but the important thing is to continue journaling.

6. Use your journal as a reference.  After several days, look at all of the things that you have to be grateful for.  As the days pass and you continue journaling, you'll be able to see how your thoughts have changed because of journaling your thankfulness.  You will probably notice that you're looking for positive things to write in your journal, rather than looking for negative things to complain about or dwell on.  When you're feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious that things might not work out, look back in your journal and notice a time that you may have been feeling that way in the past.  Your journal will probably help you see that there were still things to be thankful for during hard times, and there were probably more opportunities and adventures around the corner that you didn't see coming. Use it to help you remember all of the wonderful people, experiences, and things in your life.

 Image Credit: ellikelli

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Bella Delanna

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