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People often ask me, “does gratitude really work?” So I’m here to tell you my experience and insights with writing daily gratitude lists.
I bought my first gratitude journal back in 2017. This was during a time when I was going through a very difficult stage in life.
Trying to navigate a break up, new job and moving house all at the same time was completely overwhelming.
To try and stay focussed and positive amidst the chaos in my life, I started using a gratitude journal everyday.
I will be honest, I hated it.
At this point, every night I would struggle to think of things I was grateful for. I ended up writing the same general things down each time, eg family, friends, health etc.
I started to wonder, “does gratitude really work?”.
Eventually I gave up and didn’t consider practising again until the beginning of 2022.
What began as an everyday journal to write down my thoughts and feelings, months later turned into my new gratitude journal.
Every night I would get into bed, grab my journal and really think about what had happened in my day that I was grateful for.
What started off as 5 things soon became 10. Then more and more until I was easily writing out 20 things a day that I was grateful for.
During this time I noticed I started feeling happier and more positive.
People started commenting on how upbeat I was and I did genuinely feel a lot happier in myself and with my life.
Here are the benefits I have learnt about:
When I write my gratitude lists you can bet there are a lot of people that come into my mind.
Taking the time to think about the people in your life and the relationship you have with them is really beneficial.
It helps you to really pin point the things about them that you are grateful for.
Whether it’s a neighbour who always takes parcels in for you, a friend that always makes time for your calls or a family member who always buys you the perfect gift.
Allowing this time to think about them and appreciate what it is you love about them strengthens the bond you feel. In turn this helps the relationship to flourish.
Taking time to think about what you are grateful for allows you to tune into all the wonderful things in your life.
You start to realise there are lots of small wins you have throughout the day. These might have otherwise been overlooked or forgotten about.
Thinking back through your day to mentally search for things you are grateful for feels almost like you are witnessing all these wonderful things again with fresh eyes.
This increases your feeling of happiness. It helps you to feel more positive about your day, week, month and life.
Reflection on your day can help you to focus on positive happy thoughts.
Having these thoughts more often will increase your overall sense of happiness. In turn it will also reduce stress related feelings.
This works by shifting your focus away from any negative or stressful thoughts. As a result it replaces them with much happier ones.
The more you start to think about what you are grateful for in your life, the more you will start to notice these things pop up consistently throughout your day.
Practising gratitude has this chain reaction effect on your mindset. It changes the way you see and feel about your life.
The more I started to regularly practise gratitude, the more content and fulfilled I started to feel. I’m sure this will happen for you too!
Improves Heart Health
Study results were published by the American Psychosomatic Society in which heart failure patients practised gratitude journaling over an 8 week period.
The patients conditions where noted before and after the 8 week period and the results were fascinating!
The results showed reduced inflammatory levels and an increased parasympathetic HRV response.
By actively thinking about what you are grateful for, you are subconsciously becoming more mindful.
The more you incorporate this into your everyday life the more it will come naturally to you.
Practising gratitude is a great form of mindfulness as it helps to fully focus the mind on one task.
This allows you to be fully present in the moment and really feel the gratitude more deeply in yourself.
So, to answer the question, “does gratitude really work?” My answer to you is YES!
If you are new to practising gratitude and not sure where to start, I have a free downloadable workbook to help you get started.