Journaling is a well-known and widely used practical approach to gain insight and clarity by processing your emotions on paper. Over the past decade, gratitude journaling has gained popularity for its benefits, including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids.
The premise of gratitude journaling is simple: you merely write down 3-5 things you experienced throughout the day/week that you are grateful for.
However, according to research conducted by Robert Emmons, the leading expert on the science of gratitude and author of the seminal studies of gratitude journals, there is more to the process than mindlessly recording what you are thankful for.
If you are looking to gain the greatest psychological rewards from your gratitude journaling, Emmons has identified 5 research based tips to guide you.
- Occasional gratitude journaling (e.g., twice a week) boosts well-being rather than the regular daily practice of counting blessings. Avoid gratitude fatigue with a “less-is-more” approach.
- Identify the negative along with the positive. Remembering sorrows, failures, and other painful experiences is more beneficial to feeling grateful than solely recalling successes.
- Becoming aware that a very pleasant experience is about to end enhances feelings of gratefulness associated with it.
- Thinking about the absence of something or someone positive in your life produces more gratitude and happiness than imagining its presence.
- Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
If you have been keeping a gratitude journal and have started to lose interest, or don’t seem to be noticing any benefits, consider incorporating these tips into your journaling practice.
Written By: Michelle Rathburn, LAMFT