Gratitude is stopping to notice the things we often take for granted, like having a place to live, food, clean water, friends, family, even computer access. It's about taking a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are when something good happens.
The benefits to writing down the things we are grateful for include: better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness and increased levels of positive emotions.
It’s easy to become too focused on our end-goals or where we want to be in life, that we sometimes don’t stop to think about what’s great in the here and now.
What do I need to get started?
Do you have an empty journal or notebook? Great. If not, grab one from the supermarket or newsagency…. it doesn’t have to be fancy.
Take a break each day after work, before bed, or even on your lunch break. Reflect. Take your mind away from work and capture the things you’re grateful for… it can be as simple as a funny video you watched on YouTube , a good hair day, or your partner making you a morning coffee. However, Robert Emmons, a leading expert on the science of gratitude, recommends that journaling is more impactful if you also focus on who you are grateful for.
Here are some helpful gratitude prompts that only take a few minutes
- What are three things you are grateful for today?
- What are two things you did okay that made you feel proud or happy?
- What is one thing you are excited or optimistic about for the future?
- How would your life be without the things you are grateful for?
The thing about a gratitude journal is that it’s for your eyes only, so write like no one is ever going to see it. You don’t need to worry about spelling or grammar or how messy your writing might be!
When you’re having a particularly down or lonely day, read back over your past journaling and hopefully you’ll find some moments that lift your spirits.
If you prefer a more ‘freestyle’ approach
Writing for just 15 minutes a day − about anything − can improve your life. Whether its creative writing, poetry or just jotting down your feelings. Here’s how:
- When you’re feeling overwhelmed you can look back on previous dilemmas you solved.
- Putting a problem on paper can help you look at it from different angles and problem solve more effectively.
- Writing is known to help people recover from past trauma.
- There are even some studies which show that expressive writing can help people heal from physical wounds more quickly!
Some ideas to get your creativity flowing:
- Write about something (or someone) extremely important to you.
- Write down the advice you’d give to your younger self.
- Write about a current challenge you’re struggling with and possible solutions.
- Write about 10 things you wish people knew about you.
- Write down one thing you did this year that you’re proud of.
- Write about 10 things you’d say yes to and 10 things you’d say no to.
Notable people on gratitude
"Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It's like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation." – Arianna Huffington, author, columnist, and businesswoman.
“The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.” – Robert Holden, British psychologist, author, and broadcaster
“Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -Melody Beattie – Bestselling author
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” – Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and author
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault, author.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.