The simple fact that we’re alive and conscious to experience life in all its diversity should be good enough reason to feel gratitude. The added fact that most of us in the western world are endowed with so much comforts and luxuries, should make us even more thankful.
But the thing is that we often take friends, family and the good things in our lives for granted. Could we expect anything else from the boredom and routine of everyday life (for some) mixed with our restless human nature?
Another unfortunate trait many people have is that they tend to cling to negative events far easier than positive things.
We need to balance this.
By simply giving thanks!
Now there are many positive things associated with feeling gratitude, ranging from greater happiness, better mood to better health and improved sleep. This is not only backed by innumerable subjective accounts but now also by mounting scientific research.
For some reason, these benefits of feeling gratitude are enhanced when you write them down, preferably with pen and paper, but it can also be done digitally through a gratitude journal app.
By becoming more aware of the everyday things that enrichen your life, you deepen their effect on your body and mind. With that said, here are some of the many benefits of keeping a gratitude journal into your life.
1. Relieves stress and anxiety
Being a human being in today’s advanced and highly digitalized age is bound to cause certain degrees of detrimental stress and anxiety in you. This is precisely why we need a variety of ways to cope and relieve ourselves from their negative effects. A gratitude journal happens to be a great way of shifting your focus from the things that wear you down to the things that induce joy, contentment and levity in you.
2. Increases positivity
While there are benefits to reassessing adverse events and things that have happened to you in your life, it’s nonetheless easy to get caught up in certain thought patterns that end up following you around like a dark cloud. We all know those people who are just too preoccupied with the things that aren’t beneficial for them nor for the ones in their vicinity. A gratitude journal can help cure this by deepening your awareness of the brighter aspects of your life.
3. May prove helpful against depression
Expressing felt gratitude may give your mind and body a break from the depressive tendencies and habits you may be experiencing. Even though a recent study has suggested that gratitude has limited value when it comes to treating depression and anxiety, we still decided to feature depression as one of the many points which gratitude can positively affect. The main reason and logic behind this inclusion being that the practice of gratitude has such a wide net of positive influence which makes it inevitable that it will come into contact with your depressive predispositions.
4. Improves self-esteem
Depending on your self-esteem you will perform better as a human being, whether at home or at work. We all need to counter the impulsive unhelpful habits we have all have of not being happy with what we’ve got. Our lacks and our wants are sometimes too misleading even to ourselves. Practicing gratitude makes you more comfortable in your own skin wherever you are, because you start counting every blessing in and around you more frequently.
5. May improve sleep
Sleep is important to our overall wellbeing in more ways that we know. One thing is certain, people who’re more grateful sleep better. Think about it, if you’re content with what you’ve got, you won’t stay up too late thinking about what went wrong at the office too much nor will you ponder many sleepless nights on what you wanna do or who you want to become in the future. Sleep is often caused by overthinking, and gratitude combined with other psychological tools like meditation can help calm the overthinking and overanxious mind.
6. Makes pain more bearable
In some ways, life is pain. Harsh words to some ears, but true nonetheless. Whether it’s physical, mental or emotional, an inevitable part of life is experiencing and learning to adapt to pain. This pain makes us stronger and wiser, but sometimes it can overwhelm you. Gratitude makes life and this pain more bearable by fortifying your spirit with things that keep you on your feet, things that keep you smiling and loving.
7. Puts your life into perspective
There are many good things to putting your life into perspective. Sometimes we need to reprioritize the habits and patterns that make up our lives. Gratitude journaling will remind you concretely of what you actually value in life. Understanding yourself better will only benefit you and the ones in your vicinity for the better. For example, two studies done in the States suggested that being grateful and keeping a gratitude journal led to more generosity and a less materialistic worldview among adolescents.
8. Cultivates spiritual understanding
For me at least, gratitude has been a spiritual way to reconnect and realign my individual self with nature and the universe. Life becomes miraculous in many ways when you start being thankful for simply existing, breathing, seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching and thinking. This is when you start feeling like you’re coming closer to the spiritual core within. The fact of being alive and a conscious being becomes a miracle in and of itself.
One question that might pop is, gratitude towards what or whom? If you’re religious, well that’s easy to answer, but what if you’re an atheist or an agnostic, what then?
First and foremost, no need to make it more complicated than it is, feeling thankful to someone or something is a human emotion that is deeply built-in. Gratitude can be both expressed to concrete things, like people, circumstances and specific events but also to abstract notions like God. Expressing felt gratitude is an ever available, natural and efficient way of elevating your life.
By consciously shifting your attention to the positive things that make your life worth living, you amplify and fortify their effects in your mind. A gratitude journal is a smart and handy way to improve well-being and relationships in your life through mere appreciation and giving thanks. By regularly writing down what makes you happier, you make yourself even happier.
- http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/57314/ (on self-esteem)
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19073292/ (on better sleep)
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0092656607001286?via%3Dihub (on stress and depression)
- https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier (on being happier)
- https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2018.1497688?journalCode=rpos20 (less materialistic and more generosity)
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized deep relaxations of the psyche when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history and philosophy at Uppsala Universitet, as he is currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist, Yogic and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.