Recently, aSweatLife has been all about gratitude journaling. From the Holiday Gift Guide to the weekly newsletter, we’re talking about the simple practice of writing down positive thoughts everyday. And maybe you’re thinking, of course it’s top of mind because it’s the season of giving thanks, which is true, but we’re loving the topic because it’s a healthy lifestyle hack that is scientifically proven to have lasting benefits on your mental health.
Research shows the act of remembering and writing these positive experiences down for only two consecutive weeks can yield positive effects that can last up to six months. As cited in The Five Minute Journal, a book made (more) popular by Tim Ferriss, keeping a daily gratitude journal leads to better sleep, reductions of physical pain, a greater sense of well-being and a better ability to handle change.
Side note, if you’re not familiar with Tim Ferriss, he’s a health/lifestyle podcast guru that, if you ask me, is fascinating. He’s full of financial, health and professional advice.
After hearing the podcast episode about his positive experience with The Five Minute Journal, a friend gifted me a copy. The book is like training wheels for shifting your thought process to be grateful, positive and aware. It guides you to journal for a few minutes – both morning and night. It goes a step beyond just writing down things you’re grateful for. It has you write “what would make the day great” in the morning, and “how could you have made the day better” in the evening. These additional questions help inspire creativity and a positive outlook.
After giving the journal a try, here are my thoughts, findings and takeaways from the experience. Gratitude journaling:
Over time, I started seeking out things I was grateful for and excited about. Similar to how we seek out that best Instagram photo at brunch or post-workout selfie, I was starting to seek out the moments of my day that I could write down in my journal, ultimately shifting my attention to see the good.
Makes you self aware.
The journal has you write down thoughts in the morning and evening. Let’s just say it made me more aware of how my mood shifts throughout the day. In the morning I found myself very routine, wanting to get it over and done with. In the evening I was more open to pondering and thinking about what I wanted to write while sitting in bed.
As I reflected on my day, to think through what I would write in the journal, it forced me to visualize smaller moments that happened. Thinking about how I felt as a result of what I ate, saw or did imprinted memories that I probably would otherwise easily pass by.
Trains you to let go.
There was a daunting barrier to entry in getting started with the journal because in my type-A head, I wanted to have the most beautiful, perfectly written journal. That approach is hard to stick with everyday. Over time, I started to more easily write down my stream of thoughts. You can’t be right or wrong in a journal – just write.
Helps you remember today is actually a new day.
You always hear people say, “Today is a new day.” Having the ability to look back at my journal made me realize that each day truly is a new day with new experiences. Each day has its own beauties.
Is not technology.
I love this aspect of the journal. It takes you out of your devices and social feeds and forces you to sit, write and turn pages both morning and night. Sweet relief.
The Five Minute Journal was a fun exercise and would make a great gift for anyone. Whether it’s through a set template like this or simply a dedicated practice to gratitude journaling, it’s important to learn how to shift your perspective to cultivate gratitude, creativity, happiness and to have control over your thoughts.