Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Positive Thinking: Get Yourself There With Gratitude Journaling
Published Jul 10th, 2020 & updated on May 22nd, 2021
You’re late for work, again. Ugh. You run to the bus stop, your bag heavy on your shoulder. As you step in, you see that the bus is crowded. You have to squish in beside someone which is just lovely because the traffic is backed up, so you’ll probably be there for a while. Is the world out to get you?? Finally, you rush into your building, up the elevator, and make it to your desk with only 1 minute to spare. This is gonna be a long day. You can already feel it. Looking over your shoulder, you see Melinda writing in a notebook. Looks like a list? All you can make out is the word grateful. And then you see her smiling. Seriously? Is she gratitude journaling?? How does she have time for that right now?
She is! And she made the time! The smile you see on her face is only one of the tremendous effects gratitude journaling has on your positive thinking.
Let’s try that again.
You wake up just in time to get ready for work. Phew. As you run to the bus stop, you look up to see the sky lit in brilliant colours. The bus is crowded when you get on, but you still manage to find a seat. At least you don’t have to stand – the traffic looks busy. You rush into your building through the door someone is holding open for you. “Thank you” you smile at them. The elevator pops open at the perfect time and you make it to your desk with one whole minute to spare. Time to start working on your new project. It’s gonna be a good day.
Quite the difference, huh?
The Power of Positive Thinking
Now, imagine if you took that positive thinking and applied it to your entire life. How different would your days be if you looked for the good first instead of automatically resorting to the bad, tiring, or negative? We’re not saying there won’t be bad days. Of course there will be. And it’s important to embrace those emotions, too. But an attitude of gratitude is sure to make the bad days a little brighter.
There are so many benefits of gratitude including emotional, social, personality, career, and health benefits. For example, gratitude can improve your self-esteem, relationships, decision-making, and even your sleep. That’s right, we’re offering you a scientifically proven way to improve your sleep. If we were you, we’d take it.
Our brains are often trained to think of the negative first. Establishing a gratitude practice is essentially re-training our brains to think of positive things first, which, as we may have mentioned, leads to increased happiness and loads of other health benefits.
What Can You Do To Be More Grateful?
Gratitude is not just handed to you. Like everything else, gratitude is something you need to work at. It’s a practice and commitment you have to stick to. It’s not as complex as it seems though; there are some simple ways to start practicing gratitude every day.
Start by just saying thank you. For everything. Call people up out of the blue and tell them you appreciate their presence in your life or what they’ve done for you. That’s a start.
Next, try to implement a more formal gratitude practice in your life. The most popular way to practice gratitude is simply by keeping a gratitude journal. (Don’t stress, we have a Dive to get you started on that.)
A gratitude journal is a place where you can record what you’re thankful for, what makes you happy, and anything positive that is happening in your life. It can be fancy or not, long or short, it doesn’t matter. As long as it exists.
Still looking for another reason to get started?
With a gratitude journal, you’ll have a perfectly personalized list of everything that makes you happy. So, the next time you feel sad, angry, or like the sun has gone behind a dark cloud, you can look at your list. There will be tens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of things sitting right there to remind you of everything that is good in the world.
6 Tried-and-Tested Tips For Starting A Gratitude Journal
Let’s do this. *Cue inspirational music and serious faces—no, smiling faces. Ah, much better.*
Think of us as your entourage. We’ve got your back as you begin your gratitude practice and we’ll be here to support you every step of the way. For our first task, we’ve gathered up 6 tips for starting (and maintaining) your gratitude journal:
1. Schedule time for your gratitude practice.
It doesn’t matter when or where you do it, as long as you do it. Many people like to journal right before they go to bed because it has benefits for sleep and allows you to reflect on the events of the day. But it ultimately depends on what works for you and your schedule. If your free time is your 10-minute bus ride, then that will work just fine.
2. Make it a habit.
Habits can take weeks to develop. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little while to get used to your new practice. Be diligent, work at it, and soon it will feel like second nature. Try to get to the point where you feel like you’re missing something if you don’t do it.
3. Tailor your journal to you.
There is no one way to keep a gratitude journal. It’s a very personal exercise so it’s not surprising that it will look a little different for everyone. Whether it’s an in-depth routine or a quick pause to record something in the notes on your phone, do whatever works for you. You are a constantly changing and evolving person, so don’t be afraid to let your gratitude practice evolve as well.
4. Use the resources available to you.
By reading this, you’ve already discovered a wonderful resource in DiveThru. We are a guided journaling app that helps you take charge of your mental wellbeing. With over 1000 journaling exercises, we help you dive thru what you go thru.
The good news? The app is free to download! The even better news? After downloading it, you’ll forever be only a tap away from a gratitude hit.
With a quick google search, you can find lots of other apps, guides, templates, prompts, and suggestions for starting your gratitude journal. Set a reminder in your handy dandy phone and you’ll be good to go!
5. Start with one thing per day.
If you don’t know where to start, just start by writing one thing per day that you are grateful for. Even writing one thing per day will leave you with 365 things to be thankful for after one year with your journal.
That’s a lot of things to be grateful for. And if you write 3 things you’re grateful for, the number only goes up. Imagine if you did this for 5, 10, or 15 years. We’re not really in the mood for math right now, but that would be thousands of things to be thankful for.
6. Focus on the details.
When writing in your gratitude journal, it’s easy to just write the first thing that comes to mind and be done with it. But by doing this you’ve kind of missed the point. The goal of the gratitude journal is to get in touch with deeper and more specific emotions.
If you’re thankful for the weather, what about it? A light, soft, snowfall? The warmth of the sun on your face? Or a thunderstorm that shook you to your core? These are much more descriptive and will be more impactful when reflecting on feelings of gratitude. Be patient and really think about what makes you grateful. When you’ve found it, you’ll know.
We know that you’re kind of busy reading this, but we’d like you to pause anyways. Right there, yup. Here we go. Take a deep breath in and exhale slowly. Now, think of one thing that you’re grateful for in this tiny little sweet moment of the day. Go.
Congratulations! You just started your gratitude practice. Go ahead and write that thought down as point #1 in a long list of things to be grateful for.
While you were thinking, we were too. What are we grateful for? We’re grateful for you.