Watchdog Wellness: 21-Day Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal
Image by Gabrielle Henderson from Unsplash

We talk about being thankful around Thanksgiving where we give thanks to the people and opportunities in our life. But we should really be thankful year-round. Being thankful for what we have in our lives is an uplifting reminder for us as we go throughout our day, and giving gratitude is psychologically beneficial.

Psychological Benefits

Not only is being grateful a nice thing to do for others and yourself, but it actually changes the brain in a positive way. According to PositivePsychology’s “The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How it Affects Anxiety and Grief,” gratitude “change[s] the neural structures in the brain, and make[s] us feel happier and more content. Feeling grateful and appreciating others when they do something good for us triggers the ‘good’ hormones and regulates effective functioning of the immune system.”

In the article, author Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury also explained that “scientists have suggested that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude exchange alters the way we see the world and ourselves.” So we are creating good habits by practicing gratitude because it changes the neural structures of the brain to produce more serotonin and dopamine.

The more we lean towards positive thinking, the brighter our outlook on life is. We also start to see ourselves in a new light. So if your New Year’s resolution was to work on loving yourself, being grateful for different parts of yourself will start to change the way you view yourself.

Chowdhury went on to explain that “grateful people can derive more happiness and pleasure in daily life.” If you want to be happier, you can start implementing gratitude in your daily life.

21-Day Gratitude Journal

So how can we learn to show gratitude every day? Creating a gratitude journal is a great way to start. A gratitude journal is where you write down five things to be grateful for every day. You can use an actual journal, or you can use your phone’s Notes app or another online option to keep track of what you are grateful for. The things you choose to write down don’t always have to be profound. An example could be “I’m grateful that the barista at Starbucks wrote my name correctly,” or “I’m grateful for having a bed to sleep in every night.” What matters is the fact that you are actively thinking about what you can be grateful for that day.

So why is it a 21-day journal? It takes 21 days to form a habit. So in order to change your brain and make a habit of positivity, you need to remind yourself to take action for the allotted time each day until positivity becomes a habit and makes its impact on your life.

“The effects of practicing gratitude are not immediate, and they don’t appear magically,” wrote Chowdhury. Although it will take time and effort to practice gratitude, it doesn’t mean the effort isn’t worth it. If practicing gratitude leads to a healthier mindset and life, then I believe gratitude is worth it.