How to Practice Gratitude by Journaling!
Updated: November 23, 2020
I know, I know… you’ve heard everyone from Oprah to Gwyneth sing the praises of practicing gratitude and the importance of creating a gratitude journal.
But do these kinds of trendy approaches really work? You bet your sweet mystical pirate booty they do!
You know I love my “woo,” but I also want to ground everything in the practical. If it ain’t working, I ain’t wasting my time on it… which is why I can say with complete confidence that gratitude journaling is one of the most beneficial habits you can develop if you want more blessings, more magic, and more miracles in your life.
Benefits of Gratitude
Even in the midst of one of the most radical collectively tough years in our lifetimes, we can practice gratitude — not as a way to bypass the tough stuff, but as a way to show the Universe that we recognize that we’re being loved and supported too— “both, and”.
And that love and support are what will allow us to continue to fight for equality, to choose justice, and to create more compassion and love in the world.
Research shows that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and experience fewer mental health challenges. In fact, some scientists say that intentionally practicing gratitude can actually change your brain (a brain rehab — how cool is that?!).
In case you’re thinking this sounds like a lot of work, you’ll be relieved to know that gratitude journaling can take just a few minutes of your day (or longer, if you like!). The great thing about journaling is you can do it anywhere, at any time of day, and it doesn’t require any specific equipment (I find I get a lot more benefit from writing by hand than by sitting at my computer… but hey, you do you!).
TIPS FOR GRATITUDE JOURNALING
Here are some easy ways to make gratitude journaling a regular part of your self-care practice:
Tip #1: Strive for five
When someone told Oprah, “Oh, Oprah, it’s easy for you to be grateful because you have everything,” she answered, “I have everything because I’m grateful!”
Oprah is famous for sharing that she made it a habit for over a decade to end her day by writing down five things she was grateful for. This is a lovely way to send yourself off to la-la land with sweet dreams!
Don’t worry about making complete sentences or picking huge, life-altering things. It can be as simple as, “Drinking coffee on the porch while the geese call out as they fly overhead,” or “I got the good parking place at work.”
Tip #2: Bracket your day
I like to start my day by setting an intention for the hours ahead, and one of the most powerful emotions is gratitude. By writing down three things in the morning and then three additional things I’m grateful for in the evening, I make sure I’m covered! (Hey, I have a short attention span…!) I find that I notice more little blessings during the day when I start out the morning with gratitude.
Tip #3: Write a gratitude letter
Sometimes, I like to go really deep. I’ll pick one thing in my world and write a love letter to it in my journal.
As an animist, I see and honor the soul in all things, so I might write a love letter to the flowers in my garden, or I might write a love letter to my old nanny Mrs. Kelly who first introduced me to divination.
It doesn’t matter if the thing you’re writing to is “living,” or if the person you’re writing to has passed over. You can still express your love and appreciation for what they’ve brought to your life! (And remember, no one says you have to actually MAIL the letter… though you might want to!)
Tip #4: Count your blessings
Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, and see how many blessings you can get down on the page. This is an especially powerful way to shift your energy if you find yourself feeling down or isolated.
Play around with this one: Make a list of people you love, or your favorite ways to spend an afternoon, or life lessons you’ve learned, or all the songs that make you turn up the volume and grab the nearest hairbrush and start belting out lyrics at the top of your lungs! It’s hard to stay down when you’ve got Whitney Houston or Lorde cranked up!
Tip #5: Write a love letter to yourself
This may be one of the most powerful — and hardest — things you can do!
Write down all the things you like about yourself, from the way your nose crinkles when you laugh to the fact that you’ve never met a dog that didn’t immediately love you. Don’t be shy or modest. No one will see this but you! Own those special, quirky parts of yourself that make you, you! (If you struggle with self-love — which most of us do! — I suggest you do this at least once a month!)
Looking at yourself with love can be hard. Get yourself primed for this transformative experience by listening to my “Love” meditation below before writing! I know you will love it!
Journaling can be a welcome break from the hectic, go-go pace of your day.
It’s a chance to remember who you are — and all that you have to be thankful for. Again, this isn’t meant to gloss over any trauma or deep challenges you’re facing. Instead, it’s a way to get your energy balanced and put you in the best place you can be, mentally and emotionally, so you’re able to do the work of healing.
Gratitude is our way of communicating with Spirit, letting the Universe know we see and receive the gifts we’ve been offered. And once we recognize and appreciate those gifts, we’ll experience even more abundance around us!
My challenge to you: Pick one of the five ideas above and put it to practice TODAY.
Then come back and tell me which one you chose and how it went! I love to hear your stories.
I am so grateful for you.