4 Simple Steps to Practicing Gratitude

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From making you happier and more positive, to making you nicer to others, to improving your physical health and well-being, learn more about how gratitude can completely change your life.

How to Start A Gratitude Journal

Why You Should Start Practicing Gratitude

When most women come to me, they report that they want to feel happier and healthier, but they don’t know what to do to get there.

You see, many people believe that good health will lead to increased happiness, but in my practice, I believe that increased happiness leads to good health.

Cultivating and maintaining an attitude of gratitude has been the single most impactful step I have made towards creating a happier, healthier, more vibrant and abundant life in the past year, and I want that for you too.

As I grow and develop my own holistic lifestyle, I have learned that consciously practicing gratitude is an integral piece of the happiness puzzle.

So before you rush off to count the calories in your next meal or to see how many pounds you need to lose in the New Year, keep reading to discover how practicing gratitude can completely change your life this year.

How to Start a Gratitude Journal in Just Four Simple Steps

Practice Gratitude, Even When You’re Not Feeling Grateful

As defined by the dictionary, gratitude is: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I thought I knew what gratitude was until something happened in my life that forced me to have a deeper, more in-depth understanding of what it means to truly be grateful.

When I suffered a health crisis that left me bedridden for two months, it was no doubt the worst time of my life.

However, I have found myself reflecting back on that experience with profound gratitude for the good health that I have now. You know that old saying, ‘you never really know what you’ve got until it’s gone?’

I tell you, that has never been truer than when it comes to your health. If you are one of the millions of Americans living with chronic health or an autoimmune condition, I know you can relate to me right now.

I know that in the moment, when things seem to be going wrong, it can be really, really difficult to look at the silver-lining, to express gratitude for the things that are happening to you.

But I promise, the more you can condition your mind to always look for the positive, to always find something to be grateful for, the more you will begin to reap the benefits of this practice.

What Research Shows About Gratitude

Grateful responses to life, we are told, can lead to peace of mind, happiness, physical health, and deeper, more satisfying personal relationships – but is that exactly true?

A 2002 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life attempts to determine if this is true or not.

Does being consciously grateful for one’s blessings lead to greater peace of mind, happiness, and better relationships? While it was a small study, the results were fascinating.

YES, being consciously grateful for one’s blessings can lead to greater peace of mind, greater interpersonal happiness, and more satisfying personal relationships.

In conclusion, “people in the gratitude condition experienced higher levels of positive affect during the 13-day period, and it appears plausible that this effect on positive affect generally was due to the intervention’s effect on gratitude per se.” (1)

Gratitude Can Make you a Kinder Person

By practicing gratitude, you are not only helping yourself but you are helping those around you as well: it has been shown that practicing gratitude can make you a kinder person.

Grateful responses to life not only lend to a more positive effect on your own life but interestingly enough, by practicing gratitude, we are more likely to practice empathy and kindness to the people in our lives, thus spreading the positive benefits of this practice to those around us as well.

As discovered in the study, participants “were also more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or offered emotional support to another, suggesting prosocial motivation as a consequence of the gratitude induction.” (1)

Gratitude Can Make You Physically Healthier

It is understandable how it could be difficult to quantify the practice of gratitude and apply that practice to physical health outcomes, but one study attempted to do just that by Examining the Pathways between Gratitude and Self-Rated Physical Health across Adulthood.

Specifically, this study examined whether psychological health, healthy activities, and willingness to seek help for health concerns mediated the link between gratitude and self-reported physical health.

Does Practicing Gratitude Impact Physical Health?

According to this study – YES. “Our findings suggest that grateful individuals experience better physical health, in part, because of their greater psychological health, propensity for healthy activities, and willingness to seek help for health concerns”. (2)

Although, it was very interesting to see how the indirect effects for psychological health and healthy activities were stronger for older than younger adults.  In other words, the ways by which gratitude influences physical health differs across the lifespan.

Perhaps it is the wisdom that comes with age that allows us to be more receptive to the positive practice of gratitude?

How to Start Practicing Gratitude in Just Four Simple Steps

Expressing gratitude in written form is one of the best ways to connect with your feelings and to solidify your intentions. While there are a lot of ways to practice gratitude, journaling is one of the best, research-backed ones out there.

Step 1 – Chose Your Journaling Medium

Want the best results from your gratitude practice? Do you want to feel happier? Be nicer to others? Physically feel better? Write it down!

Keeping A Physical Gratitude Journal

You bet that I have my iPhone in my hand all day, every day. But when it comes to writing down anything meaningful, I am a dedicated pen and paper girl.

For years, I have used paper planners to not only organize my calendar and appointments for both personal and business use but eventually, I discovered that it is the perfect way for me to keep consistent with my gratitude journal as well.

If you’re looking for the perfect gratitude journal, I highly recommend this Gratitude Journal: Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude.

“Good Days Start With Gratitude is a 52-week guide to cultivate an attitude of gratitude! It is a self-exploration journal designed to focus on being thankful for what we have, the big things in life, as well as the simple joys. Each well designed weekly spread contains an inspirational quote, space to write 3 things you are thankful for each day of the week, and a weekly checkpoint. If you start each day by writing down three things you are thankful for – a good cup of coffee, the smell of rain, starting a good book – you begin each day on the right note. Do it daily and make it a habit to focus on the blessings you have been given!

Click to Buy Now

A Digital Journal

Of course, being a millennial in a digital world, I understand that many people prefer digital ways to keep their gratitude journal. There are many different options inside the App Store, although I am in favor of the My Gratitude Journal App for $2.99.

How to Start a Gratitude Journal in Just Four Simple Steps by Emily Kyle Nutrition

Step 2 – Define Your Purpose

You were drawn to this post, How to Start a Gratitude Journal, for a reason. Ask yourself:

  • What is your purpose for learning how to start and maintain a gratitude journal?
  • Do you just want to be more aware of the blessings you already have in your life?
  • Do you want to be nicer to others? More kind, caring and empathetic?
  • Do you want to become a more positive person overall?
  • Do you want to improve your physical health?

Having a clear goal in mind for your practice will help you to discover all the ways gratitude can benefit your life overall and help you to focus on what you will be writing down.

Step 3 – Commit to a Frequency

How often do you want to reflect on the things that you’re grateful for? Daily, weekly? Sporadically?

I love to use a weekly planner because there is just enough space to write down what I am thankful for daily. 

Whatever you decide, commit to a frequent schedule to keep you on track, but don’t get too bogged down by a schedule.

In fact, research shows that being too strict or obsessed over the frequency of your practice can have the opposite, health-promoting effects.

It was discovered that increases in well-being are highest when the activity fits the person’s interests and values and when it is performed neither too frequently nor too seldom.” (2)

Step 4 – Focus on Cultivating Positivity

The most important step in developing your gratitude practice is just sitting down and actually doing the work. There is no right or wrong way to share your feelings. There is no right or wrong way to keep and maintain a gratitude journal.

Your gratitude journal is highly personal and should become an enjoyable activity for you, not just another mundane task to cross off your to-do list.

How to Start A Gratitude Journal

How to Start A Gratitude Journal in Just Four Simple Steps

Yield: 1 Journal
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $20

Expressing gratitude in written form is one of the best ways to connect with your feelings and to solidify your intentions. While there are a lot of ways to practice gratitude, journaling is one of the best, research-backed ones out there. This how-to will show you how to start a gratitude journal in just four simple steps.

Tools

Instructions

    1. Choose Your Journaling Medium

      It doesn't matter whether you choose to keep your gratitude journal the old-fashioned, pen and paper way or digitally on your phone or computer.

      All that matters is that it is a medium that works for you and your personality in order to keep you focused, organized and committed.

      If you're looking for the perfect gratitude journal, I highly recommend this Gratitude Journal: Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude.


    2. Define Your Purpose

      Having a clear goal in mind for your practice will help you to discover all the ways gratitude can benefit your life overall and help you to focus on what you will be writing down.

      How to Start a Gratitude Journal in Just Four Simple Steps
    3. Commit to a Frequency

      How often you want to write in your gratitude journal is up to you, and should fit nicely with your current lifestyle. Whatever you decide, commit to a frequent schedule to keep you on track, but don't get too bogged down by a schedule.

      How to Start A Gratitude Journal
    4. Focus on Cultivating Positivity

      Whether you spend just five minutes a day or thirty minutes at the end of the week, your practice should focus on cultivating positivity and bringing joy into your life.

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How to Start a Gratitude Journal in Just Four Simple Steps
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