Gratitude journals: Giving thanks can improve your attitude

People invest countless amounts of time searching for ways to improve the quality of their lives and to be happier.  There are countless articles, books, and even classes that offer means of creating your own happier life, but it can be difficult to tell which methods are really tried and true, and which simply work well for some people but not others.  However, one method that people can use to remind themselves to be happier is keeping a gratitude journal.

Gratitude journals don’t have an exact definition, because they tend to vary from person to person, but they all have a commonality: they are a way for people to record their blessings in life, and to shift their focus towards being thankful.

Not only has gratitude itself been shown to be beneficial, keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to have similar benefits, including helping people sleep better, lower stress levels, and improving relationships.

One factor that could potentially keep people from starting a gratitude journal is stress over having to remember to write every day.  There is, however, no set way to format a gratitude journal.  Many people write in an actual journal, some store a journal digitally, and some people simply keep a list.  Some also choose not to write every day, instead opting to write as often as they can, which can help to take the pressure off.

“I adopted the idea a long time ago that it doesn’t have to be every day, it just has to be as often as you can think of it…just wherever you are, just put the date and start writing,” social studies teacher Katherine Hayes said.

Gratitude journals are not going to completely change a person’s life.  To expect such would be unrealistic, but gratitude journals can bring light into a particularly dreary day, and can even bring some hope when a person feels hopeless.

“Sometimes, like if I’ve had a bad day the day before, it’s hard to come up with the first one, but it’s never hard to come up with the third one.  Like once I get one, and I think of three, then I think of so many more, and it just kind of starts the day off like actually, things are going well and I have a lot to be grateful for,” Library Assistant Jane Ray said.  Ray makes a list of three things to be grateful for every day.

The world may can be dark at times, and it can sometimes seem that our lives are falling to pieces, but often when we take a moment to step back, look at what we have, and appreciate it, we gain perspective.  We owe it to ourselves to take time to be truly thankful, because if we aren’t grateful for our blessings, then what good are they to us?

“I do think teenagers could really benefit…it gives a teenager a chance to reflect on where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going,” Theology teacher John Norman said.

Senior Katie Limberg writes in her gratitude journal as a way to boost morale. “Remembering to be grateful is such a simple way to promote happiness. It’s easy to forget how fortunate we are to be exactly where we are in this world,” Limberg said.

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