Practicing gratitude is one way you can lead a happy and content life. By reflecting on what you’re grateful for, you focus on what’s good, instead of dwelling on things that upset you.
A gratitude journal is a book or file where you write down what you’re grateful for. Writing in your gratitude journal can help relieve stress, promote calmness and clarity of thought, and help you deal with depression and anxiety.
Everyone’s gratitude journal is different, and you’re free to create yours however you like. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Choose a journal
There are so many cool journals and books around, you can hunt out one that feels good to you. Your journal should reflect your personality and have the pages set out the way you prefer. You can choose lined pages, blank pages, or even specific gratitude journals with pages laid out for creating lists.
You may also like to use embellishments like coloured pens, stickers, stamps, or ribbon. Anything that makes you feel good is allowed. Alternatively, if you aren’t into paper, you could just open a new file on your computer to use, or even turn your social media account into your gratitude journal.
Set aside time for writing
Make your journal a daily practice by setting aside a block of time to jot down things you’re grateful for. First thing in the morning is a great time, because those good thoughts are in your head all day. Last thing before bed is good, too, as it gives you something pleasant to think about as you drift off to sleep.
Set a daily alarm, and make your journal a habit. You only need 10 minutes – enough time to pull out your book and jot down a short list or sketch. Keep your book in the place where you’ll be stopping, with a pen handy, so you have all your tools ready to go.
Use a prompt
At first, you may stare at the page and struggle to think of what to write. Use these prompts as a way to guide you. Change up your prompts until you settle into a routine that works for you. After a while you may find you don’t need a prompt, or that you use the same one every day.
Figure out what works for you
Your gratitude journal is personal, so you can use it however you like. There are no rules, so enjoy exploring your interests and personality between its pages. You don’t have to limit yourself to writing – draw pictures, add photographs or collages, dictate your gratitude journal to a friend.
Check in with yourself regularly during your journaling time and ask yourself, “how do I feel?” “Is this making me happy?” Notice when your happiness improves and when you grow more confident. Making note of these changes helps to strengthen them.
If you'd like some more tips, ideas and apps for your journal, check out this link:
Have you tried writing a gratitude journal? What kinds of things do you like to include?
A ‘mindset’ is a belief that illustrates how we approach a task or challenge. Psychologists often speak about a ‘fixed’ mindset and a ‘growth’ mindset to differentiate two concepts.
People with a fixed mindset believe talents and abilities are fixed. You’re either good at something, or you’re not. In contrast, those with a growth mindset believe they can develop skills and abilities and constantly change and improve.
Challenging your fixed mindset takes courage and tenacity. Here’s how you can demolish your fixed patterns and approach challenges in a new way.
Change the script
Your fixed mindset has a distinct voice that tells you how to approach a challenge – usually by berating you that you don’t have the required skills until you decide it’s not even worth trying. If you do try, and fail, your “voice” will tell that of course that was going to happen. When you recognise this voice, challenge what it says. Ask if it’s really speaking the truth. Consider these ways of flipping the script:
Fixed mindset: “I’m going to fail and I’ll be a failure.”
Growth mindset: “I may not succeed, but I’ll learn something. Most successful people have failures along the way.”
Fixed mindset: “If I don’t try, then I won’t be disappointed.”
Growth mindset: “If I don’t try, then I’ve automatically failed. Might as well try and see what happens.”
Fixed mindset: “If I had the talent to do this, everything would work out. It hasn’t, so clearly I’m not supposed to be here.”
Growth mindset: “Just because I enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. I like a challenge. It helps me to learn and push forward.”
Fall in love with failure
Think back to previous failures in your life, or challenges you’ve attempted but didn’t overcome. Look for an outcome that was in some way good. Did you learn something about yourself? Did you meet someone who helped you improve your skills?
As humans, we learn so much more from our failures than our successes. Challenge yourself as often as you can and learn to actively seek out and embrace those challenges.
Stop being obsessed with being seen a certain way
People with a fixed mindset believe they are a certain way – smart, or athletic, or fun. Anything that challenges their perception of themselves leaves them feeling irritated or competitive. Learn to let go of the feeling that it matters what other people think of you. It doesn’t matter if someone else is “smarter” this one time, as long as you’re being the authentic you.
Changing your mindset can feel overwhelming, but it all begins with awareness of your thoughts and a willingness to challenge yourself.
Are you ready to change to a growth mindset?
“Fake it till you make it” is a mantra we often tell ourselves when we’re trying to feel confident. And it can work for an hour or a day to plaster on a smile and pretend. If you truly want to be more confident every day, you have to work at it. Here’s how you can build and maintain a confident outlook on life:
Visualise the outcome you want
Take a moment to imagine yourself in the future – the future you want to happen. Build an image that makes you feel proud and happy. Keeping this positive vision in your mind as you pursue your goals helps you to stay focused and not give in to negative thoughts.
Affirmations are a powerful tool used by many successful people. An affirmation is a positive statement about yourself that you repeat, like a chant or mantra, inside your head or out loud. We believe the messages we tell ourselves, so proactively create a positive message that you can give yourself over and over again.
Question your inner critic
We’re often harshest on ourselves, telling ourselves horrible things we’d never say to our friends or family. Next time you berate yourself, question what you’re saying. Ask yourself, “what evidence do I have that I’m a failure?”, or “Does making one mistake really mean my entire life is over?” Learn to turn around your catastrophic thoughts.
Do you worry about pleasing other people and spend your time saying yes to things you don’t really want to do? Confident people create boundaries in their lives and are okay with saying, “no.” You do yourself the ultimate act of respect by demanding respect from others. Say what you mean and be okay with not pleasing everyone all the time.
Take others off a pedestal
People with low self-confidence often idolise other people and can’t see how they measure up. Constantly comparing yourself to others will leave you feeling bitter and resentful. Instead, celebrate what makes you amazing and what’s good in your life. Spend time helping other people and lifting your own confidence up.
Care for yourself
Treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you reserve for others. Keep yourself physically and mentally healthy by creating good exercise, diet, and sleep habits. Make an effort to look good and to choose activities and friends that challenge and excite you, and make you feel good.
Maintaining self-confidence is a skill you hone every day, but it does get easier with practice. What are you going to do today to improve your self-confidence?
Fat, ugly, scrawny, pimply, too tall, too short – even though everybody is different, we can sometimes feel as though our bodies aren’t perfect. When you start to believe your looks determine your value as a person, and you fixate on parts of your body you don’t like, then you might be experiencing body image issues.
If you’re not careful, body image issues can escalate into bigger problems, such as:
Why do I feel negative about my body?
54% of teenage girls and 41% of teenage guys are dissatisfied with their looks. A huge reason for this is because of the unrealistic expectations placed on them by the media. Anyone who doesn’t fit the popular idea of what “beauty” or “hotness” is can find themselves feeling inadequate and wishing they could change their looks.
It doesn’t help that fashion also reinforces these stereotypes – you can feel as though you have to dress a certain way to be attractive.
Your peers also play a big part in this – you might develop through puberty at a different rate to others, and they can call attention to it in a negative way. Being rejected by someone you’re into or being pressured to look a certain way can leave you feeling inadequate. You might be encouraged to make fun of the way other people look.
It’s hard to ignore things people say about you, especially if they come from friends, crushes, or family. Remember, you’re not defined by the way you look. Try to spend time with people that make you feel happy and confident, and avoid watching or reading media that encourages you to look a certain way.
Managing body issues and building healthy habits
If you think a friend is experiencing body issues, or you’re feeling bad about your own body, here’s what you can do to help:
Always focus on your positive qualities, and remember that everyone in the world is different – you don’t have to look a certain way to be happy or have an amazing life. Rock your individuality and celebrate your body!