Journaling is an excellent tool to help us digest experiences and emotions in a healthy way. Keeping a Gratitude Journal is a system to bring focus and ease to your practice.
In this article we will examine what Gratitude Journaling (click here to jump directly to How to Gratitude Journal) is and dive deeper into journaling as a whole. If your goal is to improve your healthy digestion of internal experiences and emotions, then this post is for you! Read on to learn how to Gratitude Journal and why!
Journaling is the act of writing about our internal experience. Within the umbrella of journaling you will find many styles, systems, and techniques. All of those are simply a lens to consider and write about the internal experience.
An internal experience is simply the thoughts and emotions going on within us at any given moment. Internal experiences are happening all day every day throughout our entire lives. They form the basis of our reality and the automatic responses we fall into over and over. Therefore, it is prudent to increase our awareness of what is happening in our minds.
Humans exist in a duality: the external and the internal. The external is the physical. It’s the house you live in. the clothes you wear. The car you drive and the roads you drive on. The internal is consciousness and the spiritual. They are each equally as important to pay attention to and make sure are healthy. If you aren’t mindful in the external you could hurt your body. If you are not mindful in the internal you could hurt your consciousness.
Hurt your consciousness? An extreme example of this is how statistically people who are abused as children are more likely to be abused as adults. How we digest experiences in life directly impacts the types of future experiences we are likely to have. When we do not properly digest something we form unhealthy attachments to solutions that protected us for the moment in our youth or give us familiar emotional experiences. But in adulthood those same tactics may actually be hurting us.
Recognizing which automatic responses are serving us well and which are not is ultimately the goal of journaling. The more we focus on what is happening in our mind the more we will discover about ourselves. And it is ‘ourselves’ that is interpreting the physical so it affects both halves of the duality of life equally as much!
Firstly, any amount of journaling is wonderful thing. Even if it is one time (right now?) to just grab a piece of paper, write whatever comes to mind down, and then throw it out. That one time alone can help you process something going on in your internal experience. So no, daily journaling is not about need.
That being said, daily Journaling can help you process the continuous flow of life experiences that echo within our internal. Setting a goal of journaling every day is healthy. Just don’t let missing a day lead to saying the whole thing is over. A regular practice that you come back to over and over with ease shifts the focus from accomplishing a task to making something healthy a part of your life.
The key to creating a journal habit is to find a system that resonates with you and create a regular practice that you come back to over and over. This begins with trying out various journaling systems; like Gratitude Journaling!
Forming a habit is about repetition. At the same time every day certain things are happening already in your life. Make journaling fit in a spot that happens regularly. For example, every day you get dressed so consider making journaling a part of getting your clothes on.
Another helpful strategy to increase your likelihood of journaling regularly is to leave your journal and working pen together out in a place you will easily see and pass by every day. Wherever you leave it (night stand? favorite chair? kitchen counter?), when you make eye contact with it, use that as a reminder to pick up the pen and write something down. Using the getting dressed as a habit forming time example from above you could leave the journal on your dresser.
Of course consider your privacy with wherever you leave your journal. Being concerned about other reading your journal will only limit what you are willing to explore and process. It’s reasonable to expect your loved ones to not read your journal. But it is wise to have an explicit conversation if it is something on your mind that would bother you. Maybe you journal with your loved one! Maybe it’s a mix of both.
One of the greatest assets to creating a journaling habit is the ease with which writing happens when we do pick up the pen. The harder it is to get into a flow the less likely we are to come back. It’s natural. But it means the opposite is true. The easier it is to enter the flow the more we will want to come back and do it!
How to make journaling easy? A good system! A series of the same questions you go through at every day’s journaling session that spark a path of thought can be the system. That’s the basis of Gratitude Journaling. A good system could also be a reliable
HOW to journal starts with understanding WHY you are journaling. With a WHY you can ask WHAT to journal to help achieve that.
Journal prompts or ideas are a great way to kick start a journaling practice because they get you writing with easy doorways into each experience. Read the prompt and start writing whatever comes to your mind.
Every Think Possible Apparel design is built entirely from positive words; affirmations or quotations. So each time you look closer at our art you will see a different phrase. Whichever one jumps out you can use as a journal prompt and let your pen fly on that topic. See an affirmation? Consider when you have been that attitude before. When can you be that again that will serve something you want in life right now? See a quotation? What thoughts or emotions did that quote spark in you? Do you have any experiences with some form of that topic?
Some people define insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, in a certain light, that is exactly what a solid journaling system like Gratitude Journaling thrives on. These three questions yield a different result every time you ask them, listen to the answer, and write! (Just like every time you look into one of our positive word art shirts!)
The same series of questions will bring forth a completely different writing experience every time you journal. So do not fear the repetitiveness of the questions. They are simply allowing for a quick access point to the infinite river of thoughts. Which thoughts come out and when is what journaling can help us interpret because they point at important things happening in our internal experience.
A Gratitude Journal is a system to make journaling easier and more effective. The system is a series of the same three journaling prompts every day that you write three answers for. The three prompts are designed to focus the processing of our internal experience through the lens of gratitude.
Here is the basic Gratitude Journal format to follow. This outline will help bring focus to your practice; however, it will still allow for an different flow of thoughts each time you journal.
•Three things you RELEASE
•Three things you are GRATEFUL for
•Three things you DECLARE
Thats’ it! Three simple entries for each section resulting in 9 total entries. Again, the length you write for is less important than the consistency of writing. Let’s go through each section in more detail.
Write down three things you release. This specifically means bringing mind three different things that have been bothering you. It’s not ungrateful to recognize challenges in our life and thought patters that we are dwelling on that upset us. Be grateful we have the ability to think about these things and expand our understanding of them. That is the first step towards solutions.
This section is about things that you are attached to in a way you do not like and want to let go of. Each of the things you release are about forgiving but not forgetting. We can forgive someone for doing something we consider mean and then still talk with them about it and explain why it hurt and why we don’t want it to happen again.
Release three things. Write them down. See how your relationship to those unwanted things starts to change. They hold less power over you when you write them down with the intention to release them. By writing them out we are increasing our awareness of them. And that is the first step towards freeing ourselves from patterns of thoughts that trap us in reactionary loops. Release yourself from these loops and their control over you by witnessing them.
Just writing it down can help achieve that freedom. The words we formulate to articulate the situation holding us helps bring more and more light to it. That is the key to freedom. Perceiving the thoughts. It is easy to be in a loop of negative thoughts without even knowing it. Journaling helps bring awareness to these patterns.
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Write down three things you are grateful for. It wouldn’t be Gratitude Journaling without bringing to mind things we are grateful for. After dwelling on a few of the things we want to release this gratitude prompt will instantly switch your mindset onto positive things you have in your life.
Doing it after releasing things can also help you think about things you are grateful for within the experiences you are releasing. So the order of these prompts within the system is important. It doesn’t mean you have to write about linked topics. But it does mean that your mind is more likely to find ideas on gratitude within the topics your mind is already looking at.
Write down three things you declare. A declaration is something you are going to do or be. Again writing this section after the first two puts your thoughts in a frame. First, we notice what is bothering us. Second, we see our circumstances through a lens of gratitude. Third, we declare something we are going to do.
In this final section we focus on what we are going to do or be next. This can be related to the things we released in step one and through the truths we are grateful for in step two. Or you can also declare things completely unrelated. It is not necessarily about making yourself write something specific. Rather it is about what comes out as you allow yourself to write about anything.
Your answers can be as short or as long as you feel inspired to write for that moment. Some days you may go on writing a whole paragraph for each section. Then again, on other days you may write one word. But that one word could carry behind it for you just as much meaning as writing at length.
Do not let the pressure of “not having enough time” get in your way! While we can feel like writing more is offering more growth, the reality is that writing anything at all is helping us. The journal itself is just a mechanism. The growth happens within!
Again, none of these prompts have to be related or they all can be on one topic. If we stay within a concept of linking the sections together, consider the flow:
Firstly, we acknowledge something bothering us internally and find something about it we can release. This is empowering because it offers control over something we want to change.
Secondly, we focus on gratitude in our life. Shifting to gratitude adds to this sense of empowerment as we see not only areas we are responsible for but ones we are thankful for.
Thirdly, we shift to taking action by making use of these awesome truths about ourselves or situation. Ultimately, the root goal of everything is to improve our lives and grow. By doing this through a focus on gratitude we are more likely to have positive growth.
How to pick a system that works best for you comes down in large part to what your journaling goals are. Sometimes you have to start journaling before you can even know what those are.
In fact, the more you journal the more your goals will change because you are growing! Without journaling life can be so much stickier. Patterns we fall into can help us or hold us back. Through journaling we can see what is what and un-stick our selves from the habits that we don’t want to hold onto.
So a good strategy to begin your journaling practice is to try out several different types of of journaling. See which systems allow you greater access to the flow of ideas and results you want out of journaling.
Depending on what area of your life your journaling goals are focused on you will find different types of journaling work better. Always keep an eye on honing your understanding of you journaling goals.
Let us know what you think of Gratitude Journaling or any journaling advice you have by leaving a comment below!
I love this. I journal in an app but just got a bullet journal that I was planning on starting and this is a great addition: the release/grateful/declare trio is so productive. (Also still love my tank, cannot wait for spring when I can wear it out again). ❤️
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