How to build the Gratitude Journaling Habit?
I think the primary reason I started to journal was because I wanted to bring a change in my mindset. It was easy for me to be angry, frustrated, ungrateful and unhappy. When the going was getting tougher, I would often self-reflect. And then it had dawned on me. I realized that I was doing a lot of self-harm. It was a realization that perhaps I wasn’t loving myself enough and not caring about my time and choices. I needed to change; break my bad habits and build good ones if my circumstances were to change for good.
“The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.” Courtesy Atomic Habits, James Clear. After doing tons of research and self reflection, I had become clear that I wanted to become a more grateful person. And journaling seemed like a very easy tool to bring that change. I remember that I didn’t particularly create a strategy or read enough on how to build this incredible habit. But, I made some choices subconsciously which I can seem to connect now.
1. What’s the smallest step you can take?
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.
The outcome of becoming a grateful person felt such a distant and difficult task when I started. Especially, since it came naturally to me to dwell on my negative thoughts and complain about everything. Subconsciously, I didn’t focus on the outcome but took it day by day.
I would commute to work every morning at 9 am in the office cab. I had made a small rule - Once I get into the cab, I’ll immediately open up my journal and write at least 3 things that I’m grateful for. And post I write my journal, I’ll read up the daily news and the emails.
This was really easy for me because I didn’t have to make any detours to my daily routine. It fit well in between the two activities I was habituated to even before I started to keep a journal. Plus, I had started noticing the blessing of having the cab for the commute so that would mostly be my first gratitude entry in my journal almost everyday. And if I missed writing in the morning for some reason, I would definitely reflect back while commuting back home in the evening.
So, if you are looking to practice gratitude journaling and feel it doesn’t seem to stick, try putting in between two activities that you already do. Most of the avid Gratitude app users have told me that they have a morning and a night routine/ritual. Gratitude journaling and affirmations is the first thing they do before they get out of the bed and the last thing before they go to sleep. To put this as a rule - After waking up and getting out of bed, I’ll immediately open up my journal and write my gratitudes and affirmations. And post that I’ll head to brushing my teeth. Similarly, a rule for writing in the night before sleep could be - Post I’m done with all my tasks for the day, I’ll get into bed and reflect and write my journal and look at my affirmations. And post that I’ll head to sleep.
2. Create an environment that nurtures the Gratitude emotion
When I look back, I realize that one of the primary reasons for my negative attitude or ungrateful behavior was the kind of thing I was feeding my mind. I was compulsively consuming information and content that would feed as a trigger for my negative emotions. These channels did no good and were simply sources of noise. I didn’t have triggers that would instead remind me to self-reflect, spend my time consciously and feel grateful. As I started journaling, I cut down on these channels and went on to find and join a couple of groups on WhatsApp and Facebook that were about Gratitude and Law of attraction. I follow reddit so I joined a few subreddits including selfimprovement
So, even if I happen to spend my time on social media, I tend to see the posts from these groups and that generally serves as a reminder to me to reflect and to be grateful.
Ask yourself this, What kind of triggers can I create for myself to nurture Gratitude and self-care?
Tip: Make sure to set up reminders on the Gratitude app. The prompts sent by the app can be incredible triggers for you.
Some more suggestions that I have come across:
- Keeping a Gratitude rock like the one mentioned in the book “The Magic”
- Putting posters of quotes on the wall
- Keeping Gratitude wallpapers on your phone and laptop
I hope you find some of these suggestions useful. Make sure to give yourself time and space to bring in the change that you desire. There are times during this journey when things don’t go the way you want and it’s easy to be hard on yourself. I would leave you with a short poem by Nayyirah Waheed that I love:
“be softer with you.
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.”