How to Stay Grateful- Keep a Gratitude Journal

We all have made New Year’s Resolutions. But have you ever considered making a Thanksgiving Resolution? You only need to make one, and that is to learn how to stay grateful by creating and maintaining a Gratitude Journal.

Just so you know: This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission, but it does not affect the price you pay!

green metal bench with purple, aqua and pink notebooks, puple pen and coffee mug that says 'hope'

How to be Grateful & Make It Simple

A Gratitude Journal can be as simple or as fancy as you like. You can purchase a journal specifically for this purpose. Some have quote pages, prompts and blank pages. Some are in more of a diary form. But all are wonderfully done.  If you are looking to purchase, the 90-Day Journal is a great place to start. (Annie over at Road to Reliance loved this one so much, she took it a step further and bought the 90-Day Mindfulness Journal.)

Or you can just go the simple route and purchase a small notebook. These are excellent to keep in your purse. That way, you can jot down things you are grateful for when you find them.

aqua notebook with pink, purple, green, orange and blue pens

Make your Gratitude Journal Fun

Take it a step further and purchase pens in different colors. Make your gratitude journal something fun that you will look forward to doing.

Even better, this is something you can do with your children and teenagers. Teach them to find reasons to be grateful. Purchase them a Gratitude Journal for Kids and a fun pen. Then, at the end of each week, compare notes. You may discover even more ways to be grateful! (Here’s a tip: these would make great Christmas gifts for adults and children both!)

gravel road with the sun shining through tree branches

How to Stay Grateful when you Need a Break

Having a really bad day? Learn how to stay grateful by grabbing your journal, your pens and a bottle of water. Take a walk or go to a local park. Give yourself permission to leave your worries behind you, if only for one hour. Focus on the things around you that can be considered wonderful, fun, and beautiful. Now, right them down in your journal.

The act of writing things down seems to be the important part. It is almost as if the writing action alone does something to the synapses in the brain that helps process and store information. I would rather have a mind full of beauty and wonder than one full of sadness.

sprigs of lavender on a violet background

Make it a Daily Habit

There is only one official day set aside in this country for giving thanks. At Thanksgiving, people all over the country sit around tables filled with turkey, candied yams with marshmallow topping, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.

Each person takes a turn to share the things they feel grateful for. A wonderful tradition indeed. But what about the rest of the year? Learn how to stay grateful by celebrating a day of Thanks all year long.

leaves floating in a gravel-bottom creek

Lately, with the unrest in our Country, money being tight, and other daily frustrations, we have become so much more aware of the importance of gratitude and appreciation. We learn to appreciate the simple joys.  It is appreciation for those simple joys that leads us to being grateful for the things we have, rather than lament the things we don’t.

We know that expressing appreciation lifts our spirits and improves our outlook on life. And with that, it seems to change everything around us. We start to draw our focus onto things we love. People are friendlier, meetings and plans go more smoothly. In short, things work.

a blue ocean with a rocky cliff point

How to Stay Grateful when Life gets Complicated

Still, sometimes it can be quite a challenge to learn how to stay grateful. Life has a way of getting complicated. We are downsized at our job. We have an argument with our spouse. Our children are at that stage… And then there are those incompetent or aggressive drivers, infused with road rage.

Ultimately, there are simply too many things on our plate. It has gotten so bad that some people consider nothing more than a good night’s sleep as something to be grateful for!

If things are that miserable, consider a ‘Starter Gratitude’. Find quotes that help you to feel grateful. Write them out on your computer. Print them out and hang it where you can see it. Be sure to write the quote down in your Journal as well.

blond woman in a black sweater holding a homemade fly trap

The Health Benefits

Did you know that having a mind of gratitude can also help your appearance? Which would you rather have – worry lines, or laugh lines?

When you learn how to stay grateful, it may just have an impact on your health. With gratitude, you tend to focus on the positive in life. Stress focuses on the negative elements. It also takes a toll on your cardiovascular system – from heart attacks to strokes. Your mental health also suffers. Think depression and anxiety, just to start.

Less stress and more gratitude may not cure cancer, but it definitely can help minimize the bodily stress any illness the body suffers.

Why not try an experiment? On a day when you have gotten up on the wrong side of bed, and things have gone from bad to worse, take a few minutes to reflect. What is there in your life, right now, for which you are grateful or could be, if you made an effort? (Yes, sometimes that effort can be very difficult!)

It is hard to find things to carry through the lessons on how to stay grateful when things are scary and not going well. But the happier you can make yourself feel, outward circumstances notwithstanding, the more likely you will be to view things from a better perspective. It is in this shift of perspective you may find the answers you need.

sepia print of a garden bench to sit on as you learn how to create a gratitude journal

When to Write in your Gratitude Journal

Life gets busy – hectic even. So how can we remember to look for things for which to be grateful? Much less, actually remember to write them down? The easiest way to do that is add it to your daily routine. While you are drinking your first cup of coffee, pull out your Gratitude Journal and read over what you have written. Take a moment to think of anything you can add.

If you don’t keep a copy with you, then keep it by your bed. Take a moment to relax and think back through your day. What happened – no matter how big or small – offered you a moment of gratitude?

pirogue sitting on the edge of a bank on a misty morning

The important part is this: every time you see your journal and make a notation, it will realign your thinking. And once you do that, your perspective will begin to improve. And after all, who wouldn’t want a better perspective on life?

Maybe it is time to start a Gratitude Journal. Bring more smiles into your life, laughter to your heart, and joy to your days.

Do you keep a gratitude journal? If yes, how well do you enjoy keeping one? If you don’t keep one and would like to start, you can download a FREE Gratitude Journal HERE!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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