It may seem trivial, but introducing a gratitude practice into your life is an amazing way to increase your overall happiness. While some brush this idea off as “pseudoscience,” it turns out the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person's life is actually backed by… well, science.

2003 study from the University of California, Berkeley on how showing gratitude affects daily life revealed that participants who focused on what they were grateful for “exhibited heightened well-being” compared to those who focused on hassles or neutral experiences. The conclusion? “A conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.” Basically, focus on the positive and you’ll attract the positive.

With this idea in mind, we created our collection of gratitude and mindfulness journals. A night owl who trained herself to become an early riser, Amy was particularly interested in developing a workbook-style journal that focuses on adding this practice into your morning routine. Just as they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a positive morning is the building block to a positive day!

Consistency is key, and we recommend you use your Morning Mindfulness Journal every day. We specifically developed this journal to be small and lightweight, so you can take it along with you while you travel and only need to spend about 5 minutes filling it out each day. Unassuming and non-intimidating, this journal offers the perfect entry into a daily mindfulness ritual.

To help guide you along, follow these steps to complete your journaling each morning:

1. Record your sleep

Write down what time you went to sleep last night, and what time you woke up this morning. Take a moment to think about your sleep patterns. Do you feel well rested? Was the amount of sleep you received enough, or do you wish you'd gone to bed earlier?

It seems silly to even point out that the earlier you go to sleep, the easier it will be to wake up early. But it's true! Phasing out distractions and screen time before you get in bed will also enable you to go to sleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.

2. Choose your morning rituals

List the three rituals you will be, or have already tackled this morning. These practices should be all about self-care, focusing on activities that will put you on track to have an amazing day!

Our recommendations:

  • A quick work-out or stretching routine.
  • Reading a chapter of a great book.
  • Enjoying your first cup of coffee siting on your porch in the sunshine, breathing in the fresh air.
  • Answering a couple emails you've been putting off.
  • Packing a healthy lunch for today.

There are so many tiny actions that will immediately put you in a good mood. All you have to do is carve out the time and make the effort to actually commit to them!

3. Choose your top priority

If you could only do one thing today, what would it be? Consider your priorities, and list the one thing you must complete. Not only will it help put your day into perspective, it will also give you a sense of accomplishment once you check it off your to-do list.

 

4. Gratitude journaling

Take a couple minutes to complete two short gratitude prompts. First, describe what you are most looking forward to today. Never mind if you are dreading a doctor's appointment, or feeling unprepared for a big meeting. This is the time for you to concentrate on the good, and really consider what part of today you are pining for. If you're having trouble thinking of something, make a plan here and now! Whether it's texting a friend to suggest getting happy hour drinks, or planning a post-work stroll in a nearby park, you can make your day great.

Next, think about ways you can ensure today is a good day. Specifically think about what you can do to help others. Thinking outside of yourself and spreading kindness and joy to the people around you is one of the best possible ways to allow yourself to experience happiness. You don't have to save the whole world - start with buying the person behind you in line a coffee, and go from there.

5. Set tonight's sleep goals

Last, set a goal for tonight's sleep schedule. And hold yourself to it! You'll thank yourself tomorrow morning...

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The most important tip, though? Just start! Sometimes beginning a new practice is the hardest part. So rather than putting it off any longer, pick up your Morning Mindfulness Journal now and start writing. You’ll be grateful you did.

Follow and share your gratitude practice with us on Instagram at @printfresh - we'd love to hear how you use your mindfulness journal!