10 Benefits of a Gratitude Journal
You have likely heard of a Gratitude Journal. Some, if not most, people equate a practice of gratitude with religion. Gratitude has long been a topic discussed in church, so that’s quite understandable. But I’m not going to go into some deep religious explanation here. Gratitude isn’t actually about religion at all. This is about YOU and the life-altering Benefits of a Gratitude Journal. According to several scientific studies, Gratitude is directly linked to our level of happiness. So let’s stop dancing around that proverbial bush and discover how a Gratitude Journal can bring us more happiness, shall we?
Gratitude is a powerful tool that is easy to implement and comes with huge rewards in all areas of our life. As you may have guessed, there are way more than just ten benefits of a gratitude journal, but to keep things simple, I’m going to focus on just ten of them here.
The Top 10 No-Fluff Benefits of a Gratitude Journal
- Makes Us Happy – we learn to appreciate what we have and what we’ve accomplished vs. always reaching for the next best thing to make us happy.
- Increases Self-Esteem – gratitude teaches us to appreciate ourselves and the things we do and the things that make us unique.
- Makes Us More Compassionate – gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, and more appreciative of others.
- Improves Our Sleep – gratitude has been shown to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increase sleep quality, and even increase your sleep duration. When we’re more relaxed and less worried, we get better sleep. Gratitude is your new, free sleep-aid.
- Increases Our Energy – studies show a strong correlation between vitality and gratitude. Those who practice gratitude report higher levels of physical and mental vigor.
- Lowers Stress – through gratitude, we gain compassion which in turn enables us to be more patient and more relaxed in everyday situations.
- Improves Social Behaviors – when we appreciate our friends, family, and co-workers, socializing becomes easier and more natural. People want to hang out with us more and vice versa. A study on the role of gratitude in the development of social support found that “gratitude led to higher levels of perceived social support, and lower levels of stress and depression.”
- Amplifies Productivity – humans naturally perform better when they are happy. If you work for an HR department, you know this well. Corporations are always trying to figure out which benefits will make employees the happiest. Happiness = Productivity.
- Stimulates Goal Achievement – In one study, participants instructed to keep a gratitude journal for two months reported more progress toward their goals.
- Enhances Decision Making – gratitude improves our self-esteem, and when we feel better about ourselves and have more confidence we are better at making decisions. The task becomes easier for us.
According to a study published in a report titled Positive Psychology Progress, spending just 5-minutes a day writing in a gratitude journal can increase a person’s long-term well-being by more than 10 percent. Yikes! That’s huge! To give perspective, you’d need to receive a raise that doubled your income for an effect as powerful as that.
How Can a Five-Minute Activity Have Such An Impact?
Alex Korb Ph.D. summed it up nicely with this statement, “Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on your life because it engages your brain in a virtuous cycle. Your brain only has so much power to focus its attention. It cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli. It is like a small child: easily distracted.”
I’ve heard that same type of explanation for the emotional response of anger vs. calmness. We can’t do both. Focus on one, and the body and brain will follow. The brain is a muscle. Like any other muscle, it requires exercise and practice to learn new skills.
The Happiness Gap
Humans are goal-oriented beings. We always set goals, and our goal of “happiness” is among them. Goals are a great way to accomplish things, but the long-term effect is not withstanding. Why? Because we get used to them. Think about it. We can earn a raise, but after not too long, that new, higher income becomes the new norm. We’re always reaching for that next best thing. Our happiness is always “after I graduate school” or “after I get that promotion,” or “after I get that raise” or “after I get married” and so on and so on. We create a “happiness gap” that we can never quite bridge because it keeps moving. Our goals never stop extending. As soon as we get close to one thing, that line in the sand called “happiness” moves forward again.
Gratitude, on the other hand, helps us appreciate the little things. It helps us to be grateful for all that we have accomplished and the things we currently have. Gratitude makes happiness something we already have, instead of something for which we’re always reaching.
If these 10 Benefits of a Gratitude Journal (and several more not mentioned) aren’t enough to get you motivated, I don’t know what is.
Let’s start a gratitude journal and see what it does for our overall happiness and well-being. Just 5 minutes a day is all it takes.
Are you with me? Are you game?
If you need more convincing, stay tuned for my next article which will walk you through How to Create a Gratitude Journal.