I kept a gratitude journal, here’s what happened

Keeping a gratitude journal is becoming increasingly popular. People say it increases positivity and happiness, improves self esteem and sleep, and reduces stress. Obviously, I would love to have all of these benefits, especially if all it takes is to just write about what I’m grateful for before going to sleep. I needed to try this out and I hoped that it would work, but at the same time I was skeptical. It seemed like a magical cure-all, but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try and see what would happen.
When I sat down on the first day to write I was expecting to be full of thankfulness and optimism after writing, but I honestly didn’t feel much different than when I had started. Perhaps this was just because I was in a pretty content mood to begin with because I had just finished playing with my hamster, Mango.
The second day again yielded little results. However, day three was when things started to work out. That day, I wrote about the deeper, abstract things in life that I was grateful for. I dug down into the behind the scenes things that I hadn’t really thought about or been grateful for until then. That was the first day that I felt like gratitude journaling created some change in me.
On day four, I began to think about my finals and an audition coming up. Normally, this is a pretty stressful topic\; however, I didn’t feel as stressed out about it as normal. In fact, I was feeling fairly hopeful. Sadly, this attitude disappeared Monday morning when I had to get up early and work nonstop all day to get everything done. By the time I sat down to write in my gratefulness journal, I was not feeling very grateful about anything. I thought that this was the perfect time to write\; however, I could only come up with things I wished I could be thankful for or a one sentence ‘I’m thankful for this…’ Before I knew it, I was ranting about various things, which is the opposite of what I was supposed to be doing. I set my journal to the side, decided to get a good night’s sleep, and vowed to do better tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow wasn’t better.
Tuesday was another very long day that came with a stomach ache and a headache. By the time I sat down to write, I was so tired that it was a struggle to write without falling asleep.
Wednesday was the first day of finals. Unfortunately, my thankfulness journaling didn’t help me sleep, reduce my stress, or cause me to feel thankful about having to take finals. However, by Wednesday night, I was feeling pretty good because my finals had gone better than I had expected. I sat down to write in my gratitude journal for the last time.
Overall, the gratitude journal did not create much of a difference in me. It did not noticeably increase my positivity and happiness, improve my self esteem and sleep nor did it reduces my stress. However, I believe that this was due to certain circumstances. If I had written for longer periods of time (instead of ten minutes, maybe thirty) it most likely would have created a greater change. Also, I’m sure that this takes more than a week to create an impactful change on a person’s life. Finally, I did this during a week that brought much more stress and overall negative feelings than what I am used to. Perhaps I would have noticed a greater change if I had done this during a normal week. Therefore, I don’t think my seven day experiment disproves the claims that a gratitude journal will create overall positive benefits to a person’s life. However, it does show that this is something that will take much more time than just a week to begin to see lasting benefits.
I will say that this was something I enjoyed doing. Writing about the things that I am grateful for was the perfect way to unwind after a long day. So, even if this doesn’t create any lasting impacts, I would still recommend doing it.