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The Power Of Gratitude Journaling To Improve Our Life And Health

Nov 28, 2023 ● By Julie Potiker
A woman sitting in a chair journaling.

Photo by vlada-karpovich for pexels.jpg

The holiday season is a time of giving thanks for family, friends and all the blessings in our lives. And it turns out we can be more happy, satisfied and peaceful when we make it a habit to give thanks year-round. Research confirms that practicing gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve our satisfaction with life. The benefits for our health and happiness are astounding.
Taking the time to focus on the good in our lives makes us more optimistic, happy and compassionate, and deepens our relationships. It helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and immune function, and even increase longevity.

Spending just five minutes a day writing down things that make us feel grateful has been shown to increase long-term well-being by more than 10 percent—the same impact as doubling our income.
Tapping into the many research-backed benefits of gratitude requires us to do more than wait around for the feeling to strike us. We must practice it. Studies indicate it may take weeks or months of continually exercising gratitude to experience the full effect.

Here are three simple ways to get started:
1. Notice times when we feel joy during the day.
Take in that good mental state for a couple of breaths, allowing it to turn into a neural trait. Mindfully focusing on the joy we feel helps condition the brain to feel more joy in the future. What fires together, wires together.
2. Keep a gratitude journal.
Visit a favorite bookstore or craft store and pick out an inspiring journal. Keep it by your bedside or toothbrush to be reminded to jot down pertinent thoughts every day.
3. Answer two questions in the journal before bed.
“What did I enjoy today?” and “What am I grateful for today?” The answers can be anything at all, because there is no wrong way to record our grateful feelings. Jot down a single word or phrase, write paragraphs, draw pictures—whatever form of expressing feels best. Try writing longhand instead of typing on a device, because the physical act of writing has more benefits for neural health. It is still better to type than to skip the practice. If you miss few days, don’t feel bad, just start again.
Writing down what we are grateful for or what we were doing when we felt joy will open our heart to more happiness. We can recreate that feeling of joy in our body when we remember the activity that we are writing about, and then later when we read the journal. Re-reading those entries can even help lift our spirits when we are feeling down. Keeping a gratitude journal allows us to experience joy three times: once when living it, once when recording it and again when reading about it.

Start a gratitude journal today and check in again in about three weeks, noting any positive differences and feelings. Write those down, too. Being grateful reminds us of the good things in our lives that we might otherwise overlook, and the more we train ourselves to look for them, the more we see them.

No one is too old to experience gratitude and all the benefits it holds. With something this simple and effective at our fingertips, there is no reason not to start counting our blessings today.
Julie Potiker is a mindfulness expert with extensive certifications and teacher training in a variety of tools and methods, including Mindful Self-Compassion. Her new book is SNAP! From Chaos to Calm. Through her Mindful Methods for Life program offerings, Potiker helps others bring more peace and wellness into their lives. Her first book, Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos, is available as an audiobook. Learn more at