I have a bold claim for you: gratitude journaling literally has the power to shift your entire life.
How can I make this claim?
Well, to start, there have been scientific studies demonstrating this fact.
The simple act of focusing on gratitude has the ability to rewire your brain.
Yes. It can create brand new neural pathways in your brain.
And these new pathways open your mind up to better ways of living.
The research out there shows practicing gratitude impacts your well-being in these ways:
In other words, gratitude improves your holistic happiness.
And that means if you haven’t tried journaling what you’re grateful for, now’s a great time to start.
I’m going to share a progressive hack with you that will help you build this habit, using my “habit stacking” technique.
The idea of habit stacking is it’s an easy way to build habits without a ton of pressure.
You stack one change on top of another until you’ve completely built a new habit or routine.
It’s a really easy way to dip your toes into the changes you want to make in your life without getting overwhelmed.
Here’s how using habit stacking can create a new gratitude habit in 3 steps:
Step 1: Start small. Especially if you aren’t in the habit of journaling in general.
Create a blank note or text message to yourself on your phone.
Title the note “gratitude journal” or simply set the intention to treat that text to yourself as your gratitude journal.
Then, set an alarm that goes off everyday at the same time. (I’d recommend the morning or in the evening so you don’t get distracted by stuff happening during the day).
When the alarm goes off, go into your note or text and write one thing you’re grateful for.
This should take you 5 minutes max.
Once you’ve done this for about a week, it’s time to add to the stack.
Step 2: Connect your thoughts of gratitude to your feelings.
Truth bomb: if you’re just writing down things you’re grateful for and you never connect them to the feelings they give you… you’re kinda wasting your time.
It’s this cross-connection - between your thoughts and feelings - that starts building those new neural pathways we talked about.
Let’s practice it right now.
Think of something you’re grateful for. Here are some ideas:
Food in your fridge and pantry
Family around you
Waking up to a fresh start each day
The comfy joggers or leggings you’ve got on right now
Now hold the thought for longer than a second or two.
You’ll get a feeling about it. Is it joy? Comfort? Peace?
That feeling is what makes you grateful for whatever it is you’re thinking about.
The more you connect your feelings and thoughts of gratefulness together, the more you’ll shift your focus to the things that actually bring you positive feelings.
So now when that alarm goes off on your phone, you’ll spend an extra minute or two connecting the thought to the feeling.
Once you’ve done that for a week or so, it’s time to add in the last part of this habit stack.
Step 3: Turn it into part of your morning or evening routine.
Or use it to create a routine if you don’t already have one.
There’s an incredible amount of power in either starting or ending your day with thoughts and feelings of gratitude.
Weave this practice into the time you spend in the morning getting ready for the day.
Or make it the last thing you do before you go to sleep at night.
There’s no right or wrong choice - just choose one and stick with it.
When you do this daily, you’ll see the impact of the new neural pathways you’re creating.