Healthy Spirit

Train Yourself to Think Positively with A Gratitude Journal

Written by Roz Andrews

Do you tend to look on the black side rather than the bright side of life? Are you often discouraged by the challenges you face? Do you suffer from low self-esteem?

If so, starting and keeping a gratitude journal could transform your thinking and improve your life. In a gratitude journal, you record all of the things in your life that you are thankful for.

Keeping all of the positive aspects of your life at the forefront of your mind helps you to think more positively and to deal with challenges more effectively. It also boosts your self-esteem as it helps you to realize that you are a valuable person who has many good things.

For your gratitude journal, choose a hardback notebook with an inspiring or humorous picture on the front. It may be a good idea to select a notebook that also includes encouraging quotations as headers or footers on the blank pages. Alternatively, you could write in your own inspiring quotations at the top of some of the pages. Kick start your gratitude journal by making a list of as many things as possible that you are grateful for in your life, past and present.

Include anything that comes into your head. Do not focus only on major achievements, such as your college degree, or special events, such as your wedding day, but also include little things that mean a lot, such as a thoughtful gift from a friend or seeing a beautiful flower.

Aim to reach at least 100 items on your list but do not be discouraged if this is not possible at the moment. You can add to the list whenever you wish. Once you have made your initial list, take out your gratitude journal as often as possible, preferably every day, and write down all the things you are thankful for at that moment. Aim for at least five items on your list each day but do not worry if you are not able to do this on some days.

Even recording just one or two good things on a particularly bad day will help you to look at the day more positively. Try to be specific when writing about who and what you appreciate.

For example, instead of saying that you are grateful for your husband or wife, think of one or more things that he or she has said or done in the past day to enhance your life. Look for humor in everyday events.

Try to see the funny side of things that happen to you and write this down in your gratitude journal so that you can remember the event and chuckle, rather than remembering it with negative feelings. If you have read something that was particularly inspiring, write about it in your gratitude journal.

Whenever you find encouraging quotations, add them to your gratitude journal. Your aim should be to build up a collection of material that will help you to look on the bright side of life.

When you are having a difficult day, take out your gratitude journal and read through some of your past entries. This should help you to see that, although life may sometimes seem complicated and problematic, there is still a lot to be thankful for.

Reading your gratitude journal on these days enables you to realize that, on balance, your life is more positive than negative. A gratitude journal enables you to appreciate the good things in your life.

It would appear that, as human beings, we have a natural tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive. It is important, therefore, that we retrain our brains to focus on the positive aspects of our lives.

A gratitude journal is an essential tool for doing this.

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