When I first heard about a “gratitude journal,” I laughed.
A gratitude journal was some fluffy, self-help tactic for people who are unhappy; who aren’t focused; who lack direction. It was a waste of time. I am busy. I have more productive things to do.
Turns out I was wrong — a gratitude journal actually improves productivity.
Some of the world’s most successful people use gratitude journals, including a woman worth $3 billion who you may have heard of before - Oprah Winfrey.
Yeah, Oprah, right? If you’re not a middle-aged 45-year-old woman who loves feel-good stories and free giveaways, you might be rolling your eyes. I was at this point in time. It says self-help all over it. I don’t need that.
Then I discovered gratitude journals are supported by the most prestigious universities in America:
Yale studies say a gratitude journal will result in higher alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy.
Stanford offers a high-demand class leveraging gratitude journals, which made students 27% less stressed.
Harvardstudies indicate gratitude improves health and strengthens relationships.
UC-Berkeleyresearch indicates a gratitude journal improves sleep and decreases illness.
Columbiaresearch says gratitude improves the immune system, while reducing anxiety and/or depression.
The list goes on and on. So after realizing the power of these credentials, I started digging deeper, where I realized it boils down to this causal chain:
Writing down what you’re thankful for increases happiness. Happiness increases productivity (proof here). Thus, a gratitude journal is arguably the most underrated tool for increasing productivity.
It took me a while to convince myself to try out a gratitude journal. But I’ve been logging a gratitude journal for six months, and I’ll tell you what … it works. And it feels really, really good.
I feel happier, stress-free, clear-minded, and more productive since starting a gratitude journal.
Here’s exactly how I did it (and how you can do it, too):
1. Bought a small notebook (about $1.99) at grocery store.
2.Put the gratitude journal next to my bed.
3.Wrote one thing I’m grateful for (usually one to five sentences) every night before I go to sleep.
It’s crazy simple … and crazy effective.
Between academic research and successful entrepreneurs using gratitude journals, it’s apparent on why to keep a gratitude journal, but what about some examples?
Here’s are a few entries, straight from my gratitude journal, to get your grateful brain churning:
I’m grateful for my loving and hilarious family.
I'm grateful that Andy (my college buddy) came out to visit this week.
I'm grateful to have clean tap water to drink (input entry after visiting Thailand, where drinking tap water = no no).
I'm grateful I had the chance to surf this morning during sunrise.
I’m grateful I have a job I love, with an awesome work/life balance.
I'm grateful I have the ability to walk (input entry after talking to someone who is in a wheelchair).
I'm grateful for the opportunity to teach my girlfriend how to snowboard last weekend.
I'm grateful South Park is still creating new seasons (the day this ends = my personal day of mourning).
I’m grateful I have a comfortable bed (input entry after watching a documentary of sleeping conditions in Indian villages).
I'm grateful for my iPhone 6.
You can write anything, but for me, it’s usually triggered by an event that happens during the day. This subconsciously makes me more present, observing the little details throughout the day.
It’s incredibly easy. Looking back at my initial judgments of a "fluffy gratitude journal," I couldn't have been more wrong.
This is a quick, adoptable habit that hacks your happiness and increases productivity. Plus it improves sleep, lowers stress, strengthens relationships, improves health, increases energy, enhances alertness, and enhances overall satisfaction.
Not bad for something that takes one minute per day.
I suggest not drinking the haterade like me. Give it a shot and you'll be shocked by the results, as it truly does (speaking from experience) have all of the surreal benefits described above.
Don’t hate — appreciate.
Originally published Apr 2, 2015 6:28:00 PM, updated February 01 2017