5 Ways to Start Gratitude Journaling—and How to Stick to It

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@waityouneedthis

For as long as I can remember, I've kept a journal. The process of sitting down and filling a page with my thoughts has always brought me a sense of calm, and in some ways, the habit has connected me to the person I was at 8, 18, and 28. In fact, a longstanding joke in my family is about an entry I wrote in the third grade praising a playground crush that my siblings found—but I'll keep his name a secret.

But journaling has always been something that I've turned to in times of stress or confusion. It's been a vehicle for reflection, of course, but it hasn't necessarily been a means toward practicing gratitude. When it comes to fostering that buzzworthy term in my life, not regularly writing about the things that bring me peace, or happiness, or satisfaction may be to my detriment.

"Cultivating an 'attitude of gratitude' has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners," New York Times writer John Tierney found when he did research on the subject back in 2011.

Given all of the benefits that seem intrinsic to this topic, it still isn't hard to understand why the habit of gratitude is tough to build these days. From the stress of our personal lives and the chaos of the world in general, not only can it be a challenge to simply sit and write, but it's also increasingly difficult to find things that spark this feeling.

Nevertheless, it's worth a try. For the past week, I've begun writing a gratitude journal in the hopes that another comforting habit will form from the routine. Here are five simple ways to get started, too, so that there can always be something that brings you contentment.