Positivity or gratitude journals are becoming mainstream as more and more people practice mindfulness. The concept is relatively self-explanatory, you pick a journal or notebook to write in on a regular basis and keep track of things that make you happy or grateful.
These journals should be highly individual and easy to use, otherwise they defeat their own purpose. You can also start from scratch or use a book with prompts, quotes, or inspiring images to reflect on.
Having a positivity journal can benefit many parts of your life. You can keep one about your work, your relationships, or your life in general. On his website Positive Writer, Bryan Hutchinson explains how he used a positivity journal to refocus his work: “For the longest time, I struggled with a negative mindset. I constantly told myself what could go wrong would go wrong. And, I was usually right. When things did go well, I believed that it was luck or someone stepped up to help, or hey, maybe it was Halloween and reality was wearing a mask” (Hutchinson). He wrote in his journal about what he had accomplished that day and something to look forward to the next day. This not only helped him recognize what was already going right, but also helped him focus on tasks ahead of him.
Benefits of Journaling
Hutchison goes on to explain how the journal helped him recognize positivity in his own life and eventually generate it for others as well (Hutchinson). But there are many other benefits that come along with focusing on positivity and gratitude. In her article for the Huffington Post, Lauren Jessen describes some of the psychological benefits of a gratitude journal. These include: lower stress levels, better sleep as you will feel calmer, and better focus (Jessen). Other benefits include better coping mechanisms, feeling more compassionate and connected to others, and even your immune system gets a boost from the endorphins released by positive thoughts.
Making a habit of prioritizing the positive in your life can change it in ways both obvious and unexpected. In her blog posts on the 5 minute journal, a specific type of gratitude journal, Dani DiPirro describes some benefits in great detail (DiPirro).
The great thing about keeping a journal is that you can use it as a tool to focus your attention on the truth that lies in each moment. It’s one thing to have a fleeting thought about something—like, “Today really sucks.”—but it’s quite another to actually write down the words. Often we see a situation (or a day) a certain way because we don’t really think about it on a deeper level. When you sit down with a journal and are asked to consider all of the reasons why the day was good, it becomes much more difficult to label an entire day or event negatively. The more you use your journal, the more you’ll see patterns and be able to figure out what really bothers or delights you, which can be very helpful when it comes to understanding what will or won’t make your life more positive.
How to Make your Journal
However you decide to use the positivity journal, remember that you are the only person it was created for. If you are more visual than language-oriented, perhaps you will want a book with blank pages so that you can draw pictures or paste images that you find throughout your day. If you would rather write, then a journal with lines or graphs is more your style. You can choose big or small, vertical or horizontal, or even a book with prompts already in it. Just because someone else has an element in their positivity journal does not mean you need to include it as well.
You can track as much or as little as you like in your journal—from how much water you drank to how much sleep you got—if you are interested in how some of your actions can affect your feelings. Or, you can keep the journal simple and only list what made you feel positive throughout the day. Some specialists recommend writing 3-5 positive elements each day, but as you journal more often you may find yourself recognizing more things you want to chronicle each day.
Using online resources to find ideas for your journal is a great way to get out of a rut, if you’ve run out of ideas or need a little encouragement. But don’t let “professionals” discourage you if their journals look better kept or fancier than yours. Remember to focus in on what makes you happy and grateful for the life you already live—and how you plan to keep or enhance that happiness in the future. If you see a strategy you like and think it would benefit you, go ahead and try it out. Be grateful that you have that choice. Stick with it if it works, or abandon it if it doesn’t.
Clearing your mind and organizing your thoughts on a regular basis can add to your life in a positive way. As you the incorporate this habit into your routine, your journal will serve as a tool to help you feel more gracious on particularly stressful or negative days, boost your appreciation of the relaxing ones, and even help you organize plans for the future. Do you keep a positivity journal? Tell us about it in the comments below, and let us know your favorite strategy.
Hutchinson, Bryan. “How and Why You Should Start a Daily Positive Journal.” Positive Writer, positivewriter.com/why-and-how-you-should-start-a-daily-positive-journal/.
DiPirro, Dani. “The 7 C’s: Positive Benefits of Keeping a Journal.” Positively Present, www.positivelypresent.com/2014/03/journal.html.