Understanding the Science Behind Gratitude Journals
Do you have a gratitude journal or vision board? Both are tools that can help you plan and monitor progress.
Something that started as a dream on your vision board could end up as an entry in your journal—it’s the amazing result of hard work.
Envisioning Your Future
John Assaraf’s popularity skyrocketed after he appeared on The Secret. In the film, John talks about his success and describes how creating a vision board was part of the process.
A vision board is a space where you indicate how you want to live your life and what you want to achieve. It can include quotes, photos, lyrics, and whatever else you want.
It’s a space to show that you want to become fit, get a degree, have a specific occupation, or start a new hobby. Your own board can include images of your happy family, a dream holiday, or a sports car.
Think for a moment about what you want from your life. How would you express this on a vision board?
Gratitude and Your Brain
When you are grateful, you change your thinking about your circumstances. Since thinking is connected to the brain, gratitude must be too.
What Is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a mindset where you appreciate some action or thing in your life. It can be displayed as gratefulness for something you received or gratefulness for something you did. It can be something big or small that creates gratitude.
For example, you can be grateful that you received a college education or took the time to visit a friend.
Many therapists use gratitude in their therapeutic techniques because it helps patients identify positive things in their life. It’s also why they suggest it as a journaling practice.
Gratitude Changes Your Brain
Every time you think, you are using your brain. How you think can also affect your brain. If you identify and focus on something you are grateful for, your brain responds in a positive way, and actually changes in response to gratitude.
Gratefulness alters the neural structures of your brain and strengthens it against negativity. Your brain’s neuroplasticity improves, allowing it to adapt, persevere, and maintain happiness.
Gratitude also assists the brain in creating essential chemicals that convey information between different brain cells. Dopamine and serotonin levels increase, and the brain regulates emotions better.
The Brain’s Hidden Power
Neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change) is an essential concept because it affects every part of your life since it has to do with cognitive function. When you think you can achieve something, you will, but the opposite is also true.
If you can adjust your thinking, then you can change your life. Neuroplasticity allows you to do just that.
Find out how you can change your brain at the Brain-A-Thon. It’s much easier than you anticipate!
The Advantages of Being Grateful
Gratitude has numerous benefits which is why it’s become so popular. We’ve already discussed how it alters the brain, so let’s explore some other benefits.
Mental Health Benefits
Gratitude changes your mindset to be more positive—you actively search for things to be happy about thus experiencing less negativity. When this happens, chemicals in your body respond which helps alleviate depression.
Feeling grateful also encourages empathy. Other people pick up on your positivity and sensitivity, which, in turn, creates better social relationships. You also search for people’s true intentions in negative situations to understand them better and help them in more suitable ways.
Practicing gratitude decreases your stress levels since you aren’t looking for negativity; instead, you focus on the good things which helps to regulate brain activity. Similarly, gratefulness eases anxiety, sadness, and aggression.
All of these benefits culminate into having better self-esteem because you are looking for ways to be grateful and compassionate, even with yourself.
Physical Health Benefits
Many people who regularly express gratefulness are in better physical health. They think differently so they act differently. Research shows that individuals with a grateful mindset sought out medical assistance sooner when they experienced poor physical health. They are also more likely to make appointments for regular check-ups which allows for any issues to be addressed timeously.
Being grateful makes your heart healthier. During times of anger or stress, you can think of all the things you are grateful for. This process helps calm you, and as this happens, your heart rate slows. A lower heart rate is better for your blood pressure and improves cardiac function.
Gratitude can also improve your sleeping habits. Writing down or thinking of things you are grateful for before bed helps your body and brain to wind down. It results in longer, better quality sleep which allows you to be in good shape for anything that comes your way the following day.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Now that you know the benefits of gratitude, it’s time to start journaling. You need to find a method that works for you, but the basic principles remain the same.
Choose a Journal
You need somewhere to write down what you are grateful for. Most people choose a traditional journal for this task, but it’s really up to you to figure out what will work best.
Most journals are notebooks. Some of them are lined which makes it easier to write neatly. Other journals have blank pages; they allow you to make drawings or express yourself differently.
Select a journal that you like. It should be aesthetically pleasing and invite you to write. If the idea of a journal isn’t quite to your liking, do something different, like scrapbooking or using a vision board (we’ll chat about that later).
For an extra touch, get a special set of pens to use. You could even add some stickers or other decorative items to your journal.
Make Journaling a Habit
Once you have a journal, you need to start writing in it. That’s easy to do, yet many of us struggle with it because we are busy with other things.
To get the full benefits of gratitude, you need to journal daily. It requires setting some time aside to focus on gratefulness. As little as five minutes can make a big difference so plan to do it right after you wake up, during your lunch break, or before you sleep.
Journaling daily will soon turn into a habit. Habits are crucial if you want your brain to change and to enhance your gratitude mindset.
Small Changes, Big Results
Writing in a journal is just one habit. There are many more habits that can help you excel in life. For example, eating healthy, reading, or meditating. Many of us also struggle with bad habits that are difficult to break.
The ability to break bad habits and build good ones happens in the brain. Understanding this process makes it easier for you to make positive mental changes.
Join us at our live Brain-A-Thon where we discuss habits and how to make them last. We’ll also tell you more about how to enhance your brain power—that’s one more thing to be grateful about!
Vision Board Meet Gratitude Journal
A vision board represents what you want in the future, but you have to work for those things today. Every step you take toward achieving your goals becomes something to be grateful for, so in a way, you can use your vision board as a gratitude journal.
This video by John Assaraf explains how a vision board is essential for success.
Creating a Vision Board
It’s quite easy to make and use a vision board. All you need is a bit of time and a few supplies.
A bulletin board can work well, but you can also use a large sheet of cardboard or a magnetic board. Magnetic and bulletin boards have an advantage because you can easily change up the items on the boards.
Next, think about what you want from the future. What are your goals and dreams? Find images and quotes or write down words that represent your desires and add them to your board as visual cues to remind you of what you are working toward.
Things to be Grateful For
While creating your board, think back to some of your dreams that have already come true. It could be getting a car, finishing your degree, or becoming debt free. Find some images that represent these achievements and add them to your vision board.
You can also add visual representations of things you are grateful for. A photo of your family may remind you how grateful you are for their support, or a picture of a bicycle can represent that you value your health.
A vision board is your space to dream and be grateful. Not to mention it’s a great place to remind yourself of all your amazing abilities!
Make Your Dreams a Reality
If you are like many other people, then you have written down a list of goals or have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in the future. Unfortunately, most people never see their dreams come true because they don’t work toward them.
To help you, we want to invite you to our incredible seminar where top brain experts teach you how to realize your dreams. Yes! It is possible, but only if you sign up for the Brain-A-Thon today!