Best Gratitude Journal Exercises and Benefits

Gratitude journaling has the potential to create significant interpersonal change. Using a step-by-step gratitude journaling strategy promises benefits unequaled by other practices. In the book Gratitude Works, Robert A Emmons describes the importance of switching gratitude exercises daily to get the most significant results.  This article discusses 12 benefits of gratitude journaling, step-by-step gratitude journaling tips, and the best gratitude journaling exercises.

Robert A Emmons’ book Gratitude Works includes everything needed to begin a 21-day journaling challenge.  The exercises may also be done without the challenge. Science tells us that humans need variety so switching up exercises is much better than doing the same thing every day. 

Gratitude and The Brain

If you are curious about what benefits are gained by practicing gratitude journaling, you are not alone.  The topic of gratitude is prevalent because of the phenomenal power it contains.  Remembering events that have gone well and people who have gifted you with kindness and contemplating them brings about emotional presence.  Neuroscience is still discovering the actual mechanism; however one explanation considers the release of dopamine.  

Dopamine is the feel-good neurochemical that is thought to contribute when one is appreciative and grateful.  Dopamine regulates reward and motivation, which is necessary to continue and be committed to cultivating the practice of gratitude.  When you linger in feel-good memories, you will notice your mood will improve, feel more at peace, and feel less stressed. 

The 12 Benefits Gained from the Consistent Practice of Gratitude

People who spend time and commit to a gratitude journaling practice have gained some impressive benefits. 

  • They know their purpose.
  • They are more generous.
  • They go out of their way to help others.
  • They linger and appreciate the ordinary pleasures they gain from everyday things.
  • They have more energy.
  • They achieve their personal goals.
  • They are better able to deal with daily stress.
  • They are more likely to heal from trauma and live the life they want.
  • They have more secure and loving relationships.
  • They are more resilient.
  • They have secure self-worth.

Steps to Prepare a Gratitude Journaling Practice

Have you started and then gotten frustrated with yourself because you did not stay on target with the standard you made for yourself to do it every day?

So many of the people I speak with tell me they would love to start but don’t know-how. In some cases, people start a challenge and then get down on themselves for not following through with the project. 

Consider the unreasonable expectation to do something every day. Let’s be real here.  It is beneficial to have daily habits that make intentional headway in our self-care.  But real life happens, and nothing is worse than giving yourself a hard time being human.  Yes, keeping commitments is necessary.  Just think of flexibility as your friend; when it doesn’t go as you planned, be kind to yourself and move on. 

  • Be sure to set reasonable expectations for your practice.  
  • Purpose to enjoy the process.  
  • Please resist the temptation to see it as a chore you need to accomplish
  • Perceive it as an opportunity to gain.
  • For each exercise, take ten minutes, or more if you desire.
  • Contemplate and write from your heart.  
  • Try not to be concerned with grammar and spelling.  
  • Gratitude journaling is more about experiencing the emotions of gratitude and in remembering.  Take your time to enjoy every moment.

Best Gratitude Journaling Exercises

Here are the seven best gratitude journaling exercises that can be done on a rotating schedule. 

The Three Blessings exercise is about recalling three separate events during the day that you can give someone else credit for.

To Whom and  For what Exercise recalls a person, you can be thankful for and remembering what that person did specifically that impacted you.

The Gifted Self exercise emphasizes benefits and gifts that you have personally received in your life.  They may be simple everyday benefits or something more profound.

Looking to the Future is noticing that something will be ending soon and being mindful to appreciate the remaining time.

The Absence of Blessing exercises is about looking back on events or people we remember and notice what life might be like without the blessing of that person or event.

The Gratitude Letter is writing about a  250-word letter or telling someone how important they are and how grateful you are for them, and a specific thing that they did for you.

The Bad to Good exercise looks at events that were “bad” and finds those things that resulted in that were positive due to that “bad” event.

Remember that each of these exercises is for your pleasure.  They are something you get to do that will bring tremendous changes.  We know that finding the silver lining is a powerful practice.  Finding appreciation rather than negativity is equally profound.  Robert A Emmons, in his book, Gratitude Works, describes the importance of switching gratitude exercises daily to get the most outstanding results.  This article discusses 12 benefits of gratitude journaling, step-by-step gratitude journaling tips, and the best gratitude journaling exercises

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