Using a Gratitude Journal to Change your Mindset

This subject is super important to me and I thought it was time we had a proper look at gratitude.  In this blog I want to break it down and get to the bottom of why this is such a valuable mindset for a happy life.  We’ll look at the gratitude What, the gratitude Why and the gratitude How.  That is How gratitude affects our happiness and changes our lives!  Plus I’ll add in some gratitude journal prompts along the way.

Why aren’t people talking about this more? Oh wait, they are.  Lol.  But, not quite enough and that’s why I’m here to push the point home about how hugely important it is that we live our lives from a place of gratitude by making it a part of our daily lives.

The Gratitude Why: Perspective Adjuster

I’d like to start with why gratitude is important because I believe that living from a place of gratitude can change your entire perspective on your life. Gratitude is like the ‘Happiness Perspective Adjuster’ you never knew you always wanted.  Gratitude shifts your mindset on any aspect of your life that you apply it to, like magic.

It helps you recognize your blessings.  Helps you appreciate how far you’ve come.  And, it helps you value what time you have on this earth.  It really shakes things up. At its core gratitude makes us look closely at what we have in this life.  In a sense it can be used as a gauge, a way to measure your life against alternate possibilities.

I am not encouraging you to measure yourself against the lives of others, although people often do this.  If your mind does take you to a life circumstance less fortunate than yours, which happens naturally during this process, you should take this as a reminder of what you do have to be grateful for.

What we don’t want is to use this ‘comparison’ approach to compare ourselves to people we deem better off than we are.  This has the opposite effect and I’m sure you can understand that it is far from helpful for you to compare yourself to anyone else in a negative way.  Our goal here is always to look for the good.  Look for reasons why you should celebrate your life.  You may feel there aren’t many, but with practice you will see that every life on this earth has reasons to be grateful.  This is where your gratitude journal comes in because the more we make this part of our daily routine the more it becomes part of who we are.

Gratitude Journal Prompts for Perspective:

  • Where can I recognize the blessings in my life that many others do not have?
  • How far have I come in life/What do I have now that I didn’t have 5 years ago?
  • Where can I express gratitude for my health? Health bones, lungs, eyes, legs etc.

The Gratitude What: What to be Grateful for

Finding things to be grateful for helps you to unpack the negative thoughts and to put you back on track towards positive thinking. Your gratitude journal is the perfect tool to help you get back into a positive frame of mind.  But, in my version we take it to a whole new level. The gratitude journal can be an extremely powerful tool. Let’s start by asking, what do we want to get out of our journal?

Think about the process that goes on in your mind when you’re writing in your gratitude journal. It is a process of working through what you have and recognizing your blessings.  At the same time you understand where others may have lack.  This helps you to fully embrace, from a joyful place, what you have been blessed with in this life.  It’s a logical, easy to follow process.  It’s a conscious choice to expand on the good instead of letting the bad take over.

So, for example when you write down in your journal that you are grateful for your family you are recognizing, being present to, and grateful for, the awareness that you have what others may not have.  It is a reminder that your life is blessed.  This applies to everything that you put on your list. It is a process of shuffling your perspective on your own life. It is a process of unpacking and identifying your blessings.

Much of our happiness in life comes down to mindsets. Your journal is great for this because it is a conscious attempt to shift your mindset towards the positive.  To uplift yourself and to be thankful. Making a decision to find good, to chase joy and to uplift yourself on a daily basis is the perfect recipe for a healthy and happy life.  And, if you commit to this practice, over time it becomes easier and easier.

Let’s take a moment to recognize that it is very hard to be grateful when you are in a slump, when life feels too heavy or too much.  This is where starting small, with a daily practice of listing out the things we are grateful for is the best starting point.  You may not feel it in the moment, but the process will embed itself in your heart and slowly work its magic.  Taking that next step in working through the layers of the appreciation, digging deeper will open your heart up more and more each time.

Gratitude Journal Prompts, the What:

  • Who am I blessed to have in my life?
  • What role do they play in my life?
  • What is my favourite place to be? How does it make me feel?
  • What one thing brings me joy almost instantly?

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The Gratitude How: My Own Version

I want to talk a little bit about what I am grateful for because it helps me to work through the process as I see it. I find it a helpful way to explain what it means to me and hopefully in that way help you to understand the significance.  This is the how-to, the practical side to leaning into gratitude.

We are all grateful for our family, health, financial security, roof over our heads etc. My belief is that a gratitude practice needs to go far beyond and way deeper than these, as important as they are.  Really, these need to be the starting point.  The springboard for us to shoot this gratitude practice to the stars.  We want to make this a transformational experience.  Here’s how I see it:

Be grateful for the heart that beats in your chest.  Then, be grateful for the emotions that flow through that heart.  The emotions that lift you up and drag you under, swirl you around and make you aware of the life within you.  All of these form part of the story of your life and when you can appreciate them it is more meaningful to you, it touches your heart.

Be grateful for the feet that carry you.  Then, be grateful for the places they have taken you to and the places they will still take you to.  The sunrises and sunsets they will take you to see.  The people you will walk beside on your journey.  Keep reaching outwards, extending the story of appreciation.

Be grateful for the moments when you wanted to give up, but time after time you stood up and worked your way through whatever difficulty was facing you.  The resilience your have shown in your life, the growth you have experienced.

Be grateful for yourself.  For being there through it all, whether good or bad.  At the end of the day, gratitude for your own beautiful soul is the strongest and most effective gratitude you will ever experience.

Gratitude Journal Prompts, the How:

  • How does being truly grateful make me feel?
  • Have I shown gratitude to myself lately?
  • How can I dig deeper to fully appreciate and be grateful for my life?

Gratitude for it All

Being grateful is a beautiful thing, and we need to learn to apply it to everything.  Only when we see the dew on the leaf or the sun on our shoulder with gratitude have we moved on to a whole new level.  This is the level of gratitude for all of life.  This is the level that changes your mindset, that brings joy and abundance and happiness.

At this time in my life one of my greatest sources of gratitude, that fills my heart with joy, is this personal growth journey that I am on. My appreciation for this journey is massive and fills my heart with joy. This journey that I’ve been on has helped me grow as a person, but with my growth has come an increase in my capacity for gratitude. The more that I learn about myself, the more I learn to love myself.  And, the more I learn to push myself to expand, the more I see my strengths and embrace my weaknesses.  This all allows me to be more grateful for who I am, and who I’m becoming.

Gratitude Journal Prompts for All:

  • How do I extend gratitude out to my life experience?
  • Where can I find gratitude in everyday experiences?
  • Can I be grateful for the ‘small’ things?
  • Can I be grateful for ALL life experiences, even the lessons?

So How Does it Change Your Life?

This is quite simple really.  You let it in.  You let it soften you and open your heart.  Whichever way you look at it, you cannot be unhappy when you are in a state of gratitude.  Try it, it’s impossible.  Not if you are truly feeling the emotion that is gratitude.  And, feeling that beautifully charged energy coursing through your body equates to pure joy!  Pure joy equates to happiness!

And, happiness in the moment is literally all there is.  That is all that this life is about, to Be Happy Now.  There is nothing else.  So, gratitude equals happiness!  I challenge you to test my theory.  Try being grateful without being happy.  Try being grateful without feeling like life matters, is beautiful and rich and rewarding!

Here’s the Real Challenge

This is what I want you to do.  This week take 5 things every day and write them in your gratitude journal.  Then go deeper on each one.  Why are you grateful?  Not just ‘I’m grateful for food on the table’, but the why behind it.  What does it mean to you to have food on the table?  Where does that food come from?  Who should you thank for growing, picking, delivering and selling the food on the table?  Look beyond the surface and find multiple reasons to be grateful for each item listed.  In other words, expand!  Expand on the gratitude and you expand your love and happiness.

This exercise can be done with your kids too.  Involve them in your search for joy and the abundance mindset that comes from seeing all that you have in this life.  Get them to bring along their own little journals and see what they write down in them.  It will be a wonderful bonding experience and the positive vibes you’ll share while discussing your blessings will light you all up!  Teaching our children to be grateful is a beautiful lesson, don’t you think?

Gratitude Journal Prompts for Expansion:

  • How much can I find to be grateful for in any one area or person?
  • Do I believe gratitude can remove negative thoughts just by being present?
  • Am I grateful for my spirit and the truth of who I am as a soul?
  • Am I grateful to myself for seeking a loving answer in life?

Helping You be Your Best Self

Life has so many facets.  So many colours, in so many shades.  Learning to embrace them all is a huge part of becoming the best version of yourself.  The more you see this, the stronger you become and the more you appreciate every aspect of your life.  Find a way to be happy with your life as it is, flaws and all.  Living life this way can only bring you more happiness and fulfilment.  Learn to be grateful for ALL of it!

Seeing yourself and the world this way brings out the best in you and helps you to shift your mindset away from lack and into abundance.  You begin to appreciate how much you truly have and start to look for reasons to be happy every day.  It’s a bit like walking around with rose tinted glasses on.  And, really all it takes is a conscious decision to look for what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t have.  It’s as simple as that.

I hope you feel inspired to start a gratitude journal to help you to take your happiness seriously, in the happiest possible way! This practice really can shape the way you see the world.  And, if a journal isn’t your thing, don’t be deterred.  Make gratitude the way you walk through your day, the way you see every breath and every heartbeat.  Make it a new way to live and you will wake up with a new attitude towards your life.

Steph x

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