Everything You Need To Know About Gratitude Journalling

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on RachelKhoo.com and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle. Everyone knows the basic idea of what a journal is but actually, journalling can take on many different meanings to different people. Bullet journals help organise your time, diary journals help clarify your memories  but what about gratitude journals? How do they fit in?

We spoke with Kristiane Leu, an independent graphic designer and author of The Gratitude Attitude, a journal containing the works of 14 artists, quotes and 5 essays to inspire your daily gratitude practise, to find out more about it and most importantly, how it can help you creatively.

This is what she says.

What is gratitude journalling?

Gratitude journalling is essentially the daily practise of writing down the positive things in your life. It might sound a bit simple but Kristiane says that whether or not we realise it, stress and routine can have a profound effect on how we experience our own lives and acts as a barrier to our own happiness.

“The thing is, for us adults, the novelty of most things has simply worn off. We take a lot of things and people for granted and overlook all the goodness that surrounds us. Busy lifestyles have us on autopilot most of the time,” she explains.

Gratitude journalling seeks to break you out of that cycle by making you conciously focus on the things happening in your life right now that make you happy. Kristiane explains it’s a way to “develop fresh eyes again by setting aside about 10–15 min per day to write down 3 things that we are grateful for – morning or evening. By consciously taking the time to reflect on the good stuff in our lives, we open ourselves up again for more positivity and abundance,” she says.

It’s not just talk either. Studies have shown that regular gratitude journalling can lower stress/anxiety levels, improve sleep quality and help us feel more optimism, compassion and happiness (to only name a few benefits). It can also support you through tougher times once you have your ‚gratitude attitude‘ as a go-to mindset.

And the amazing thing is, studies by renowned gratitude experts such as Robert Emmons, Ph.D. show that the benefits already start flowing in after 3 weeks of practice.

gratitude journal

How and why can it help improve happiness and creativity?

“By simply seeing and appreciating the small things‘ in life again, your mind sets itself up for more happiness and optimism. Your brain actually builds new neural structures for positivity that become stronger and stronger – like a muscle trained to see the good stuff in life. After a while it can overtake the negative bias we have set up as evolutionary autopilot (always expect the deadly tiger in the bush and don’t think too long about the deliciousness of the berries),” Kristiane says.

Creativity ebbs and flows and usually if you’re stressed and overwhelmed, you’re not going to be at your most creative. Kristiane says that gratitude journalling can directly reverse this: “Gratitude brings a feeling of ease and calm to a busy mind. Being grateful for the present moment can help take away any pressure we put on ourselves. And when the mind is at ease, ideas can flow. It’s a little bit like when ideas come at night or when you don’t think about it too much. They pop up when you’re not pressuring yourself. In that sense, you can let loose and let creativity flow,” she says.

Though she warns creatves to be careful not “to let gratitude become another chore in the run for happiness. It should be without pressure. The ‘shoulds’, ‘woulds’ and have’ tos’. It’s not really a place for hamster-wheeling for more happiness, but more of a mental place of calm and clarity.”

Kristiane’s 8 tips for gratitude journalling

1. Be specific and don’t repeat too much. After the first ‚easy‘ ones – family, friends, sunshine… – you will have to dig a little deeper and start (re)discovering the often overlooked things/events/people in your life.

2. Really feel the gratitude. Don’t just quickly scribble something down, but let it sink in and fill your heart area. That’s when all the benefits of gratitude will start showing up.

3. Experiment which time of the day works best for you. Keep the journal on your bed or coffee table, with a pen. So either morning or evening, it will be an easy-to-access practice.

4. Use a journal or notebook that you treasure, so it feels special when you use it. Also, afterwards, you can read back on it when you have a tough day to remind yourself of all the goodness that is present in your life.

5. Don’t let it become another chore in an already busy life. And don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two… or five. When you do it, enjoy it! Let it fill you with calm and contentment.

6. Be on the look out – If you know you have your gratitude journal waiting for you to be filled, you will keep your eyes and heart open all day to see the abundance of good things around you.

7. Reframe – Who tells you and how do you know what is good and what is bad? Grateful people can take a ‚negative‘ situation and take the good from it. If it’s not a blessing, it’s a lesson.

8. Don’t forget yourself! Send thanks to your body for supporting you non-stop, your heart, your feet, your cells… your creativity, your quirks… Gratitude brings self-love and acceptance.

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