Want a hack to feel mentally and physically healthier, less stressed, and happier, all while strengthening your relationships and your resilience? Try gratitude.
You might think that sounds like a pretty tall order for something as simple as being thankful. But the more researchers look into gratitude, the more evidence emerges that shows it’s a powerful tool. And if you want a way to wield it, a gratitude journal is a great place to start.
Before we get into this relatively simple habit, let’s first take a closer look at what gratitude can do for you.
Why gratitude matters
It turns out “count your blessings” isn’t just a cliché. There’s science behind it. When people regularly practice gratitude, they feel happier. That’s been true across a range of studies. But it’s pretty easy to feel gratitude when things are looking up. Then the clouds come in, and feeling thankful can feel like the furthest thing from your reality.
With that in mind, one study, in particular, looked at what gratitude can do when we’re already having a hard time. It found that gratitude helps us put distance between ourselves and toxic emotions like jealousy or resentment. More impressively, the findings suggested that gratitude can cause lasting changes in our brain that support mental health.
Another main takeaway: reaping the benefits of gratitude takes time. The more you stick with it, the more perks you’ll get. And that might be the motivation you need to start a gratitude journal and keep it up for at least a few months.
How to start your gratitude journal
This is the easy part. Grab anything you want to write on (it could be a true journal or a scrap of paper, or it could be your laptop or a note in your phone). Sit down for a set amount of time. Try 10 minutes to start.
Now, write about what you’re thankful for. If you need a little creative inspiration, here are some prompts you can try:
- Name three people in your life for whom you’re grateful
- Write down five traits you’re glad you have
- Write about something you’re glad happened during your childhood
- List five things you can see near you that you like (e.g., a comfy chair, the sun, your Doughp)
- Write about the best thing that happened to you in the last 24 hours
- Write a gratitude letter to a friend telling them why you’re glad they’re in your life (you don’t have to send it, but you certainly can)
- List five foods you love eating
- List 10 movies you’re glad you’ve seen
- Name three things you love about your job or school
- Write about your favorite family member and why you’re grateful for them
See? You could write about literally anything that gives you that warm, fuzzy, grateful feeling. The whole key here is to start looking at the world through gratitude-colored glasses. Regular gratitude journaling gets you in the mindset to start looking for the positive because you’ll have to write about it later. And that might make finding the silver lining a lot easier on those cloudy days.
Remember, you get the biggest benefit from gratitude when you practice it regularly. But building a new habit can be hard. If you need to give yourself a little motivation, why not reward yourself with some Doughp? Knowing you have a sweet treat waiting for you can help you want to journal regularly.