There are many people who are writing and speaking these days about the benefits of keeping a daily “gratitude journal.” Expressing gratitude can certainly improve your life in many ways. This simple habit can reduce your stress, lift your spirits, and enhance your sleep quality. However, is a gratitude journal really a sufficient way to reflect on each day?
MY EXPERIENCE WITH JOURNALING
Journaling has been a part of my bedtime routine for nearly a decade now. Soon after starting this habit, I became much more aware of how much I had to be thankful for.
However, there was an unexpected side effect for me that advocates of gratitude journals have never mentioned (as far as I know). As I became more mindful of my reasons to be thankful, I actually started to feel guilty. “The world is giving me so much, but what am I giving the world?” I wondered to myself one night before bed.
INTRODUCING THE POWER JOURNAL
After some self-reflection, I realized that I was contributing a lot to society. However, I was not recognizing my contributions.
So, I made a key enhancement to my nightly journaling routine. In addition to recording at least three things that I was grateful for each day, I also started writing at least three things each day that I was proud of doing.
This new-and-improved journal is what I now refer to as The Power Journal. Nearly a decade later, this habit has become one of my most cherished daily rituals.
More recently, I have also started writing down at least one thing each day that I learned.
THE LONG-TERM IMPACT AND BENEFITS
If you commit to this expanded journaling routine, you will experience and impact the world in a much more powerful way. Your outlook, your confidence, your relationships, and your overall quality of life will all improve.
Give thanks for three things a day, and you will take time to appreciate more than 1,000 positive elements each year. Record three actions a day that you are proud of, and you will take and acknowledge over 1,000 confidence-building, progress-making steps each year. Identify one thing each day that you learned, and you will identify 365 life lessons each year.
By becoming more mindful of everything good in your life, you will start to notice and search for things to be grateful for each day, many of which you have likely been missing or taking for granted.
By recognizing what you are proud of each day, you will start to notice and search for opportunities to move toward your goals, to step out of your comfort zone, and to add value to the world. You will also take time to acknowledge your effort, much of which you have likely been ignoring.
By reflecting on what you learn each day, you will start to notice and search for ways that you can take your life to an even higher level- without making the same mistakes as often.
Keeping a Power Journal serves as a daily accountability check to celebrate, contribute, and maximize each day. There are numerous times every day now when I do something, or when something happens to me, and I think to myself, “I’m going to write about that tonight.”
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Begin by getting yourself a journal. Thrive Global sells them here. They call them “Gratitude Journals.” 🙂
Store your journal in a location where you will see it every day, like on your night stand next to your bed (what I do). Right before you go to sleep each night, turn to a new page, write the date, and write the following:
· At least 1 thing you learned that day that you want to keep in mind in the future
· At least 3 things that you did that day that you are proud of
· At least 3 things that you experienced that day that you are grateful for
WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE IN YOUR POWER JOURNAL?
All that matters is that each entry is unique to that day and meaningful to you, no matter how small it might seem on the surface. Follow these three steps:
Step 1: What did you learn today?
Walk through your day quickly in your head and try to identify any lessons that you learned that day. Your lessons could be any of the following:
· An activity from that day that you want to start doing more (or less) often
· A person you spent time with that day who you want to start spending more (or less) time with
· A way that you behaved that day that you want to start being more (or less) like in the future
Step 2: What are you proud of doing today?
Walk through your day again in your head and write down everything that you are proud of doing that day. Your reasons to be proud could include any of the following:
· Random acts of kindness that you performed for someone else
· Commitments that you kept to yourself or someone else
· Moments when you stepped out of your comfort zone
· Actions that you took to move closer to achieving your goals
Step 3: What are you grateful for experiencing today?
Walk through your day one final time in your head, and write down everything that you are grateful for from that day. Your reasons to be grateful could include any of the following:
· Random acts of kindness that someone else performed for you
· Commitments that others kept to you
· Simple pleasures that you experienced by yourself or with another person
Initially, it might take you 10-15 minutes each night to complete these three steps. However, as you become more mindful about your behavior, you will find that this exercise gets easier and faster. These days, it usually takes me less than five minutes to walk through these three steps before bed each night.
It’s well worth the time. I’m usually in a deep, peaceful sleep just a few minutes later.
Don’t just ask yourself each day what the world is giving you. Ask yourself each day what you are giving the world, and ask yourself each day what the world is teaching you. Start a Power Journal. This simple, daily habit could provide a greater ROI for your well-being than anything else that you could do in such a short amount of time.
P.S. Have you taken the free habits assessment on my web site? I developed an assessment that measures your habits in four key areas that are highly correlated with greater health, well-being, and performance over the long-term. You can click here to take the assessment for free at my web site (StrongerHabits.com). It takes less than 3 minutes, and you get your results immediately.
About the author: Pete Leibman is the creator of StrongerHabits.com and the author of Work Stronger; Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work. His work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com.
Pete Leibman at work (left) and competing in an obstacle course race (right)