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The Wellness Blog

Gratitude Changes Your Attitude: The Power of Gratitude through Reflective Journaling

Mai T. Trinh
Mai Health Now LLC

Clients often ask me how they can add more joy and health into their personal lives when everything around them seems fragile and uncertain. In order to feel joy, you have to be open to it. Joy is only possible when we are fully present with a grateful perspective. In fact, numerous studies show that the practice of gratitude can give us an instant mood boost.

Alternatively, if you are focusing on what is lacking, it’s hard to appreciate the gifts of daily life. We often get caught up ruminating on what we don’t have instead of savoring our present blessings. What you focus on grows, so I advise my clients to zero in on things that nourish their souls, inspire them and lead them to a perspective of gratitude.

In my gratitude seminars, a question I often ask the audience is: “What can you do today that is both joyful and healthy for your life?” Clients often report things like spending more quality time with their kids, or calling a friend they feel safe with and not judged. These experiences brings them a great sense of joy and gratitude. In addition, spending more time in nature or going for a long walk with their pet also can shift their perspective towards the positive.

I invite you today to consider what you can do to add more joy and health to your daily life. The answer can be really simple and doable.

A simple way to foster more gratitude is to be on the lookout for great things that come your way throughout your day no matter how small the gesture. Write down at least three positive things that occurred in your day in a gratitude journal. Studies show that if you keep a daily gratitude journal for at least a week you are likely to experience a mood boost for up to a month. In addition, if you continue this practice for a month or more, the positive effects of a gratitude journal may continue to be seen for up to six months after. According to researchers, the positive mood boost appears to compound.

In my practice, clients often know what they need to do, but feel overwhelmed wondering how to make big changes that are necessary to improve their life and health. Small steps can make a profound difference. It is through self-awareness that you can start to improve your enjoyment of life. Starting a gratitude journal and practicing reflective journaling can help you come into awareness about the positive things that happen to you throughout your day. Furthermore, if you are struggling to digest difficult feelings, the act of writing the events on paper can help you synthesize the information and get it out of your system.

Tips to keeping a Gratitude Journal:

  1. Keep it simple – if this is your first-time journaling, all you need is a pen and a notebook to keep all of your thoughts in one place. If you are feeling ambitious, you can buy a journal or notebook.
  2. Write the date, the time, and location – adding the date, time and location often adds context to your thoughts. Reflective journaling is a safe place where you can record your life in a progressive time span, and then look back at each chapter and reflect.
  3. Writing down your gratitude doesn’t have to be fussy – journaling your gratitude can be simply jotting down three bullet points that happened to you today. It can start with something as seemingly small as “I am grateful that the barista at Starbucks smiled at me and gave me the perfect cup of coffee.”
  4. The 4 R’s of reflective journaling – Reflective journaling is a sacred space to record your thoughts. It is also an opportunity for you to relax, release, reflect and renew. Reflective journaling can help you recharge from stressors with a grateful attitude towards life.

In this Thanksgiving month, when you convene with your families and friends to share your thanks for life and each other, one soothing ritual you may want to incorporate into your daily routine is quiet time to reflect on the blessings of the day. By writing down three things that lifted your spirits and gave you hope, you foster a perspective of savoring the present moment.

Being open to joy and taking the time to appreciate the tiny miracles that happen throughout your day, you can not only boost your mood, but lower your stress levels. Effective stress management can helps reduce inflammation in your body and actually protects against chronic disease. The opposite of disease is ease. By building on your gratitude, you are also strengthening your emotional and physical resilience.

Whether you find yourself appreciating the scent of a magnolia tree or the sun setting over a river, being able to fully drink in the present moment and record these blessings daily, sets your world lens to one of wonder and awe. When in doubt, write it out. You won’t regret it.

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