Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, has devoted his life’s work to studying gratitude. In his research, he has discovered:
- Those people who keep gratitude journals, on a weekly basis, exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, are more optimistic, and feel better about their lives as a whole.
- Individuals who keep gratitude lists are more likely to make progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based).
- Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families.
There are as many different ways to do gratitude journaling as there are people! You can start out small, by journaling one to several times per week. As you become more comfortable, you can increase your gratitude to a daily habit. Here are a few ideas for different types of gratitude journals:
- Gratitude List Journal– List several things you are grateful for each week. Or list things you are grateful for each day.
- Notes Of Gratitude Journal– You might choose to begin each morning with a note of gratitude in your journal. Or, instead, you might choose to write a note of gratitude in your journal each evening. Some people do both!
- People Gratitude Journal– Each time you sit down to write, recall one person from your life, and write something you are grateful for regarding that person. You can do this for people with whom you have a positive relationship, but you can also include people with whom you have a more difficult relationship.
- Acts of Kindness Gratitude Journal– Each day, you might note something that someone else said or did for which you are grateful. Or you may choose to note something that you cheerfully did for someone else.
- Gratitude for God’s Gifts Journal– Write something about your mental, physical, or emotional health that you’re grateful for today. This can be especially helpful when you’re health is not perfect.
- Gratitude for Challenges Journal– Consider a current challenge in your life. Reflect and write on how this challenge is growing you into a better person.
Whatever way you choose to express your gratitude is totally okay. The purpose of your journal is not to minimize or deny the challenges in your life, but rather to refocus your attention to the good that still exists.
When would you like to begin?