Why journaling is good for your mind, body and soul
Professor Robert Emmons, a psychologist at UC Davis, author of Gratitude Works and world leading scientific expert on gratitude makes the bold claim in his book that keeping a gratitude journal can result in a 25% boost in happiness.
Not only that, individuals who keep a journal in which they are thankful benefit from up to 90 minutes more sleep per night and 33% more exercise.
In his chapter on journaling, Emmons states:
One of the best ways to cultivate gratitude is to establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. When we are grateful, we affirm that sources of goodness exist in our lives… Gratitude journaling promotes the savoring of positive life experiences and situations so that we can distill the maximum satisfaction and enjoyment from them. This promotes a shift in consciousness from what we are lacking to the abundance that surrounds us. Gratitude leads us to affirm and acknowledge the good things in our lives. … And because you can’t be grateful and negative at the same time, it counteracts feelings of envy, anger, greed, and other states harmful to happiness.Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, by Robert A. Emmons
Taking Gratitude to The Next Level
Some gems from Emmon’s book include:
1. Write it down
The act of writing down your blessings translates your thoughts into words, and writing has been shown to have advantages over just thinking the thoughts. Writing helps to organize thoughts, facilitate integration, and helps you accept your own experiences and put them in context.Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, by Robert A. Emmons
"Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."Gertrude Stein
2. Daily practice
Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with even mundane or ordinary events, personal attributes one has, or valued people one encounters has the potential to weave together a sustainable life theme of gratefulness just as it nourishes a fundamentally affirming life stance.Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, by Robert A. Emmons
3. Keep it fresh
Seek gratitude density. Be specific. Go for depth over breadth. Give details for each entry. The journal is more than just a list of stuff.Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, by Robert A. Emmons
Another way to keep things fresh is to “include some surprises. What unexpected blessings did you benefit from today? What were you dreading that did not happen?”
He also suggests to “use the language of gifts. Think of the benefits you received today as gifts. Relish and savor the gifts you have been given.”
4. Don't take things for granted
Think about and then write down those aspects of your life that you are prone to take for granted. Instead, take them as granted.Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, by Robert A. Emmons
Why not make a start right here, right now and pause to reflect on three gifts you're grateful to have been granted in your life?