We’ve all heard the claims that practicing gratitude daily improves overall health and wellness (lowers your stress levels, helps with anxiety and depression, improves sleep, makes you happier, etc), but I have to admit, I was somewhat skeptical. About a year ago, I figured I’d give gratitude journaling a try to see what all the hype was about. Wanting to do it “right”, I ordered an actual gratitude journal and did it for about a week, but it was too structured for me and it just didn’t stick.
In October 2018, as part of Rachel Hollis’ Last90Days program, I committed to gratitude journaling daily again, this time with a regular notebook I picked up at the dollar store. Every morning while I drank my coffee, I wrote 10 things for which I was grateful. At first, because I’m someone who tends to overthink things a bit (holy understatement!), coming up with 10 things that were amazing enough to be grateful for was a bit of a struggle.
But here’s the thing I realized…
…being grateful isn’t about the amazing things, it’s about being able to find “amazing” in the simple things.
I’ve continued the practice every morning since then and it recently dawned on me what gratitude journaling was doing for me. I recognized a feeling of contentment and much less anxiety, in general. The feeling that it’s my responsibility to fix and control everything is gone…or at least much less evident. Gratitude journaling has become as much a part of my morning routine as having my coffee and I actually don’t feel right when I don’t get it done. The changes happened subtly, but they were significant enough for even my husband and kids have noticed them. There’s no question my daily gratitude practice is increasing my happiness and lowering my stress levels. And really, that’s all the reason I need to keep doing it. Besides the obvious that being happier is awesome, less stress can lead to less inflammation in the body which is critical because chronic stress and inflammation lead to illness.
I’m amazed that something as simple as regularly writing down the little things you’re grateful for can have such an effect on one’s mental (and therefore, physical) wellness. Starting a gratitude journal is a recommendation I include in all of the individual programs I do for my clients…it doesn’t matter what you have going on, practicing gratitude on the reg will make you feel better. Go figure…apparently, all those posts we see about it are right. I totally geeked out when I found this particular article – it explains the science behind how and why it works. Did you know that gratitude journaling can increase happiness by 10%…that’s equivalent to as much additional happiness as doubling your income! Only a lot faster and easier!
If you have a daily gratitude practice, I hope you’re realizing as many benefits from it as I am. There is so much awesomeness in the little things. If it’s not part of your daily routine, I highly recommend you grab a notebook and a pen with your morning coffee and give it a try…I’m certain you’ll be grateful you did!