Benefits of gratitude
Maybe you’ve heard about the potential benefits of practising gratitude or keeping a gratitude journal. You may have even been advised to keep a gratitude journal by a doctor, family, or friends.
But are there any real benefits from keeping a gratitude journal? And how exactly does gratitude journaling work?
Experts say there’s no wrong way to do gratitude exercises like keeping a gratitude journal, unless of course you’re focusing on negative things or things that can encourage shameful feelings.
Here’s what the experts want you to know about why and how to keep a gratitude journal.
What is a gratitude journal?
According to experts, a gratitude journal is typically a journal or notepad where you jot down things for which you are grateful.
This doesn’t need to be a notepad or journal, though; it can also include listing things for which you are grateful aloud or in your mind. Some smartphone apps even allow you to text or digitally enter things you are grateful for.
“You can keep a gratitude journal on your phone, you could do it in a notebook, you could even just kind of take time to really think about those things,” says Laurie Santos, PhD, a professor of psychology.
“All of these types of forms of engaging with a gratitude journal can really improve your wellbeing.”
What does research show about the effects of gratitude journaling?
Experts say the evidence is overwhelming: Keeping a gratitude journal is good for your health and overall well-being.
“There’s lots and lots of studies basically suggesting that gratitude improves wellbeing,” Dr Santos says.
“There’s evidence, for example, that people who are more grateful experience more benefits in terms of their self-regulation, they’re more likely to eat healthier, they’re more likely to save more for retirement,” she explains. “And there’s even evidence that people sleep better when they’re feeling more grateful.”
Jane Wilson, PhD, says there are even more benefits of keeping a gratitude journal.
“People who keep a gratitude journal experience more positive emotions such as love, joy, contentment, improved social connections, increased sense of inner peace, improved exercise and deepened sense of focus in learning,” Dr Wilson explains.
“Keeping a gratitude journal strengthens one’s gratitude muscle,” she adds. “By strengthening one’s gratitude muscle, people will find they more quickly notice good things in life, and they’re better able to manage future stressful situations.”