When I was younger, I used journaling as a way to vent my problems and frustrations. At the time, I thought it would help me to let go of negative feelings, but it became clear that writing while in a negative headspace only caused me to stay in that headspace for longer and to dwell on my negative emotions. When I learned about practices such as gratitude journaling, intention setting, and manifesting, I became inspired to try journaling with positive goals in mind. I found that what has worked best for me is gratitude journaling, but with the intention to turn my feelings of gratitude into actions that can benefit others and the world around me.
If you haven’t tried gratitude journaling, it is a great way to help cultivate mindfulness and joy in your daily life. It can be all too easy to succumb to the stresses of life and to fall into counterproductive ways of thinking. Journaling with gratitude in mind helps us to take the focus and pressure off ourselves and to recognize the bigger picture. Once we expand our view and take the time to reflect on how lucky we are, both in the microcosm of our life and in the grander scheme of things, we can begin living differently and expressing ourselves to the people around us in more positive ways.
Whether you already practice gratitude journaling or if you are just beginning, try taking it one step further by finding ways to turn your gratitude into action.
Verbalize Your Gratitude
If there are certain people who come to mind when you write down your gratitude, once you’ve had time to reflect and journal it out, call, text, email, write a letter to, or make plans to see those people you feel gratitude toward and tell them how you feel. There is nothing more powerful than openness and authenticity. It might feel awkward at first to express yourself to others with such candor, but it will leave you feeling lighter and more joyful. And it will likely make the object of your gratitude’s day—maybe even their week or their month. Never underestimate how much it might mean to someone to know that they are appreciated.
Pay it Forward
Verbal expression is not the only way to show gratitude. Acts of kindness can be equally, if not even more, meaningful. If you are feeling grateful because someone in your life once did something that left a lasting impact on you, let them know by returning the favor. It doesn’t matter if some time has passed and you’re just recalling your gratitude now—reach out and let this person know that you haven’t forgotten what they did for you and that you’d like to do something nice for them in return. Again, embrace any initial awkwardness you might feel and lean into your authentic truth. Your gesture of gratitude will likely be a welcome, uplifting surprise for the recipient.
We are often grateful not only for other people but for experiences we have had, things that add value to our daily living, or intangible concepts that have changed our lives for the better. We might not be able to directly express our gratitude to its sources in those cases, but if you find that you are feeling grateful in a more general sense, take the opportunity to pay it forward and give back to the world around you. You could practice random acts of kindness, like paying for the person behind you in line at the store or gas station; volunteer in your local community; or do something positive for the environment, like picking up trash in your local park or planting a community garden.
Gratitude journaling can feel like a very personal activity, but why keep our gratitude to ourselves when we can use it to spread positivity and kindness? The next time you write in your gratitude journal, in addition to writing down the reasons you’re thankful, write down the specific ways you will act on your gratitude. Putting our intentions into writing makes us more likely to follow through, because it helps us to imagine the possible outcomes of our actions and the feelings we will have surrounding those outcomes.
Channeling our gratitude into action helps elevate our grateful practice by giving others around us reasons to be grateful as well and by bettering the world we all share. Our written words can hold a lot of power, but the actions that manifest from those words have the power to change the world.
Also by Courtney: Vegan Girl Summer Is Here! 6 Blissful Activities To Try
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