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Keeping A Gratitude Diary

· Wellbeing,How To Guides,motivation

A happy journal, gratitude diary or nice notebook can make a surprising difference to your mood. Scientific studies show that people who spend time each day reflecting on the positives find it easier to reduce the impact of the negative experiences. It also boosts mood long term because the daily habit of being positive becomes internalised.

How It Works

  1. Find somewhere to store your positive thoughts. A journal, app, diary or online blog could work.
  2. Decide on a routine that you can stick to for two weeks – this will begin to develop a habit. Writing in it every night before bed or evening after tea can help you remember to do it. Pick a time of day that you will be able to regularly stick to.
  3. Think about good things. These could be things that you are thankful for, things you enjoyed, things that made you laugh, beautiful things you have seen. Think about anything at all that brought positivity to your day and record it. Always make sure it is written positively. So “NOT being late” would turn into “being on time”. Try to include at least three things each day. (Examples: dancing with your friend, going to the gym, a family member buying you an ice cream, a stranger rapping in the street, the idea that all people are beautiful, deciding to change jobs, or realising how lovely the bird song is.)
  4. Write it in your way. Bullet points, a list, a dear diary, paragraphs, mind maps, key words or even doodles.
  5. Always stick you’re your minimum amount. There will be bad days but even on those days try to find a few things that brought you positivity. They may be small and seemingly insignificant things, but on a difficult day they can make all the difference.
  6. Look back. After a week, a month, a year and even longer look back at the entries and you will surprised how positive it will make you feel. You’ll remember each day for the good reasons and not the bad ones.
Gratitude diary, happy journal, positive thoughts, happiness, mood, wellbeing, gratefulness, enjoyment.

Extending The Exercise

Here are a few ideas for extending your positive mood and using the gratitude diary in other areas.

  • Look over a whole week or month and compile your ‘best things this week/month’ list. This could be used to create a ‘This is my life’ type book.
  • After enjoying today, reflect on what good things you would like to happen tomorrow and how you can make that happen. Some positive events are just random occurrences, but you can make conscious plans to spend time with people who make you feel good or feel achievement by completing tasks.
  • Once you start your happy journal you’ll start noticing things throughout the day that would qualify. Recording them as you go, sharing them on social media and talking to people about them throughout the day may help to share your positive mood with others.
  • When people ask how your day has been try to think of positive things to talk about first. Sharing the positives can be infectious and break the habit of the boring British conversation ‘I’m fine, how are you?’
  • Include images for some of your positive events and experiences to turn it into a scrap book.
  • Record why those things made you happy. It seems may seem obvious, but articulating what it is that made you happy / grateful can be helpful in helping you replicate it further and process the event even more positively.
Gratitude diary, happy journal, positive thoughts, happiness, mood, wellbeing, gratefulness, enjoyment.

I’ve been doing a ‘Happy Things’ diary for two years now (after a viral prompt on social media) and I’ve found that it’s made a big difference to the way I perceive what’s around me. I notice people doing nice things in the street more, appreciate nature more and make more effort to spend quality time with friends and family because it’s reinforced how good it makes me feel. I can’t recommend it enough – give it a try for at least two weeks and see how it makes you feel.

Image Credits:

Simon Cocks, book at the beach 2010
Eugene Kim, Gratitude tag 2008

Personal creations, girl with a diary 2014

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