Updated: Oct 16, 2021
The concept of keeping a gratitude journal has gained attention as a focal point for brain writings and research. Forbes published an article within recent years that explored the value of keeping a gratitude journal.
Something happens neurologically when we reflect on our choices, relationships, and special events in our lives. Actively reflecting starts to hardwire neurological changes in the brain. If you’re constantly focusing on emotions that make you fearful, angry and resentful, they eventually get hardwired into your brain. The opposite outcome holds true for gratitude.
Research has found that keeping a gratitude journal can help pull you out of negative patterns and start you on a course that leads to positive thoughts and actions. Gratitude journals have been shown to be even more effective than simply focusing on having positive thoughts in your day.
Keeping one has many different benefits:
One of the biggest improvements comes with the ability to open up new relationships, or to communicate better in your current relationships. Reflecting and being grateful for the people that help you in life expands your empathy, and empathy is one of the cornerstones of healthy relationships.
It also improves physical health. Research, published in 2012 in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, found that people stuck in negative emotional patterns feel pain more intensely than people who practice gratitude and positive thinking on a daily basis.
Keeping a gratitude journal also helps people manage depression and feelings of aggression.
A study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people who wrote in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes at night before going to bed experienced better quality of sleep on a regular basis.
It also has a positive impact on self-esteem. Sitting down to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you’re grateful for ingrains the value of the experience in your memory. This also helps to reduce social comparisons, because focusing on what you appreciate about yourself impedes the negative impulse to judge others.
Gratitude journaling has also been shown to be a therapeutic tool that can help people deal with conditions like PTSD and other stress-related disorders.
It costs little more than a cheap composition notebook or simply maintaining a special file on your computer’s hard drive. I think you’ll find if you take the time to reflect on your life and the things you’re grateful for, results will be nothing short of amazing.
Contributor: Dr. Michael Trayford is a Board-Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Founder of APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC.
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