It’s easy to think of a gratitude journal as a marketing tactic to sell artfully designed books full of blank pages. But from a practical point of view, this type of journaling technique has more merit than your Inner New Age Skeptic might think. It’s a practice that can help move your more academic writing forward. Consider these key aspects of gratitude + writing:
1. Transition into formal writing with greater ease. Most of the serious writing we undertake as adults is often complex and weighty (such as a dissertation). A gratitude journal just requires us to consider reasons we have to be grateful. Like freestyle writing (stream of conscious writing), journaling about gratitude puts pen to paper without excessive deliberation. Even a few minutes spent writing about what you are thankful for lubricates the mind and indirectly supports more difficult writing in the future.
2. Gratitude increases productivity. People who take the time to recognize the good things in their lives tend to experience less depression. Scientists who study positive psychology found that a practice related to gratitude resulted in an 10% increase in happiness and 35% decrease in depressive symptoms. And to no one’s surprise happier people tend to be more productive. So even if you don’t believe in gratitude journaling per se, any writing strategy that inadvertently helps you feel good and produce more is a positive thing.
3. Gratitude isn’t bound to a journal. If writing in a journal feels a little trite or forced, why not go directly to the source and let them know how highly you regard them? Who in your life could stand for a little recognition? A colleague? A dissertation advisor? A dependable friend? Gratitude creates a ripple effect from a communal perspective. When people are authentically recognized for their contributions, it increases their self-worth and makes you (the deliverer of kind words) feel more empowered as well. This can translate into greater efficacy in a range of areas, including your writing.
It’s true that a gratitude journal won’t change the world. Nor will it help you finish that looming dissertation chapter, at least directly. Indirectly, however, is another thing. As a writing hack, it can have long-range effects that help you as a writer…and as a human being.
If you’re looking for extra support in moving forward and making 2021 the year you finish your dissertation, contact me for a complimentary coaching call. We’ll tackle it together.