Cultivating Gratitude Through the Year: How to Start a Gratitude Journal by Dr. Bradley Nelson
After a year of pandemic and disasters, the new year brings a chance for a fresh start. But no matter what 2021 brings, we can lead happier lives if we cultivate an attitude of gratitude. We all have stress from the pandemic and from the election, yet to be happy and positive, it’s important to focus on things that make us happy.
Studies have consistently shown that thankfulness and the expression of gratitude can have profound effects on health, moods and interpersonal relationships. By shifting your focus to what you’re grateful for, you’ll start to see all the blessings in your life more clearly. My simple tip is to start a daily gratitude practice.
How to Start a Gratitude Journal
All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. Or you might choose a nice gratitude journal to write in each day. Some come with gratitude prompts already included that might make it easier to begin.
Start by writing down a few things you’re grateful for. Go into as much detail as you can. If you feel stumped getting started, that’s OK – give yourself time. As you practice gratitude more frequently, you’ll likely be able to identify things you’re grateful for with ease.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Write about a person in your life whom you’re thankful for.
- What skills or abilities do you have that you’re grateful for?
- Write a note to someone whom you’re grateful for. (Bonus points if you share the note with them!)
- What positive changes in your life have happened in the last year?
- What is something you’re grateful to have learned this week?
- What are you thankful for about the city you live in?
- What does your body allow you to do that you’re grateful for?
- Write about something you’ve been taking for granted that you’re actually glad is part of your life.
We can even be grateful for difficulties we have experienced by recognizing how they have helped us grow. The challenges and difficulties we experience are what provide us with the ability to grow and overcome. We sometimes appreciate those things more afterwards but if we can recognize their value in the moment, it's to our benefit.
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