Succotash at the Studio

What is Gratitude Journaling?

“Maybe if I just had more money, or a bigger house, or this thing, or that thing, or that person, I would be finally be happy.”

It happens all the time. We feel unhappy, and our mind starts wandering, yearning for more things that we want in life.

We think if we had more of what we wanted for, we could be happy, and then grateful for all of these things we finally have.

But we see people who have everything they’d ever want for or need in their life, and then some, and yet...they are still unhappy.

So what’s the problem? The issue may be that our thinking is just in reverse. As the famed monk David Steindl-Rast tells us, “It’s not happiness that makes us grateful, it’s gratefulness that makes us happy.”

Expressing gratitude is the simplest and most effective way to bring more happiness into your life without having to change your circumstances.

Studies have shown that when we are intentionally grateful, and put a focus on the positive, our brains cannot focus on both the positive and negative at the same time. Gratitude disables our negativity, and we start to enter a life more abundant with happiness.

As you regularly express a focus on gratitude, dopamine and seratonin are released, and they send a message to the brain to crave for more.

Gratitude is one of the healthiest habits we can have, and all it takes is a little practice to develop this skill!

Starting your Gratitude Journal

So how can we start bringing more gratitude into our lives in a noticeable way? One of the best ways is by starting our own Gratitude Journal.

When we write down what we are grateful for, it has a greater and longer lasting impact on us than just thinking about what we’re grateful for.

Start out with a place on paper where you can write your gratitude entries. A great starting place is a journal or notebook with the sole purpose of being your Gratitude Journal. Maybe pick out one with a design or color that makes you happy.

You can also use your regular journal by marking off a section for Gratitude Journaling, or make a section in your planner. As long as you have a place to write, and you’re writing regularly, this simple practice will be able to work its magic.

A Little Gratitude a Day

Now, make a promise to yourself that you will spend at least 5 minutes a day with your Gratitude Journal, writing what you are grateful for. It's that simple! When we practice this on a regular basis, our gratitude muscles get a workout and we experience its greatest benefits.

Gratitude in Many Shapes and Colors

The great thing about Gratitude Journaling is you can do it however you want. You can do a regular journal entry, you can make bullet points, you can emphasize with drawings and colors, the possibilities are endless!

Some people like to commit themselves to a certain number of things they are grateful for. They may name 5 things that they are grateful for every day, for example.

Another method that works for some people is thinking of the alternative - how different would your life be if you didn’t have many of the things you have today? You can express gratitude by writing out how thankful you are that your life isn’t the way it could be without all that you have.

It’s also good to make a point to be thankful for people, and not just things in our life.

You can feel out different methods and find which one works best for you, just as long as you are expressing with intent. When Gratitude Journaling, it’s important to not be driven to use it just out of routine, or just to fill in numbered slots. Remind yourself that you are journaling because your happiness is important to you.  

Once your in the motions of regularly filling in your gratitude journal, start getting into the fine details. Expand on the things you are grateful for, getting more specific as you go. It’s such an eye-opening experience when we consider how deep our gratitude can go for even the tiniest things in our life.

A Moment for Gratitude

Gratitude Journaling is a powerful practice to take with us on our own personal journey - it trains us to be in a mindset of gratitude. We can start to see that every single moment is a precious gift, and something to be thankful for. When we have struggles in our life, or moments that go sour, we know that we have a new opportunity with the next moment life gifts us with, and that is something to be grateful for!

We don’t have to rush to change external things in our life just to find happiness. Our happiness can come from within, without having to change our situations or fill our life with new things. Finding gratitude for what we already have can actually attract more abundance and success in our life, and we may find happiness in new, unexpected ways! 

We simply need to remember to place stop signs in our life, to slow down, and look around at everything we have to appreciate, to embrace the next moment that life gives us.

The Paper Seahorse curates a selection of quality notebooks, journals, and planners from around the world. You can view our collection here.

Staying Sane During the Holiday Season

It’s the happiest time of the year. Reconnecting with family and love ones, giving thoughtful gifts, cooking delicious dinners and cookies, all reasons why the holidays have such a special place in our heart. But keeping your head on your shoulders through all the non-stop festivities and activities can be...difficult.

Luckily, peace and mindfulness is our goal here at The Paper Seahorse, and no amount of Christmas traffic and last minute shopping can keep you from being your best, mindful self.

These are some of our favorite ways to stay sane during the Holiday season. What better gift to give yourself than a little peace this time of year?


  1. Sleep, sleep, sleep!

This is the biggest one.

Even though it’s a given, it’s shocking how many of us don’t get our recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis, and yet not shocking because we’ve all experienced it! With a significant change in our schedule during the season - gift shopping, family in town, cooking, decorating, a surge of workload at our jobs - our already precious hours of sleep dwindles even more. 1 in 5 Americans say they expect to lose sleep during the holiday season.

A great way separate daily stress from our nightly sleep is having bedtime habits - These are rituals that, when done on a regular basis before hitting the pillow, send a signal your brain saying “this is bedtime, it’s time to fall asleep now.” Think of it as Pavlovian conditioning for sleep.

Hot tea is your nighttime ritual's best buddy

Going to bed at the same time every night is a great start. Try turning off your electronic devices an hour before bedtime and instead reaching for a book (we’ll get into more detail on that in a second). Also, making a good cup of herbal tea is great for relaxing your body and mind. A favorite bedtime drink of ours is “Golden Milk”, made with turmeric and ginger. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties has a calming effect and aids digestion. Here’s a great recipe for knocking you out into dreamland. The soothing jasmine of our Signature Blend tea is also great at lulling you to sleep.

 

  1. Take time for a good read

To those of you that swear reading is your tried and true method for relaxation, science is on your side. Research from University of Sussex has shown that just 6 minutes of reading can make you significantly more relaxed. It’s also has a significantly more positive effect than checking social media or watching TV shows or YouTube. Reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68% and help you sleep better.

Whether you’re tucked under your sheets, waking up in the morning, or just getting off work, any time is a good time for a reading break. Reading’s stress-reducing power is most effective when you’re reading something interesting and your mind doesn’t wander. We highly suggest a copy of Flow Magazine and their engaging writing on all things mindful and creative - issue No. 27 was just released this month!

         

 

  1. Remember to Breathe

Breathing exercises means taking in air through your nose, and letting your lungs fully expand and your belly fully rise. Easy, right? Deep breathing, or “breath focus”, regulates heart rate, stabilizes blood pressure, and relieves stress and anxiety, and you can do it at any moment of the day. It’s also a good time for practicing meditation.

According to research from Harvard, “breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations.” The next time you’re hunting for a last minute gift idea, stressing and overthinking will never come close to the benefits of intentional, focused breathing.

Try 4-7-8 Breathing: To start, exhale completely through your mouth. Close your mouth, and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Then, exhale completely through your mouth to a count of 8. Repeat the cycle and enjoy the de-stressing benefits.

 

  1. Keep a journal like it’s your best friend

Journaling is especially helpful at the end of the day, but it’s also a great practice to keep throughout your day.

Journaling helps you take all those intangible thoughts, ideas, actions, and emotions, and connect them in new ways. It’s a key tool for self-reflection, noting our accomplishments of the day, expressing joy for the good things that happened, and letting go of the worries that do nothing but disrupt our peace.

However you decide to journal - whether bullet journaling, writing freeform, or using a Traveler's Notebook - it is incredible tool for organizing swirls of thoughts during all the holiday activities, and is helpful for remembering to be grateful during this precious time of the year, which leads us to our next tip….


  1. Express Gratitude

A secret ingredient for happiness is sitting right inside of us. It’s our ability to give thanks. When we remind ourselves to notice the good things in our life, and the people we love, the inherent result is a sense of happiness.

An easy starting point for expressing gratitude is identifying 3 things that you’re appreciative of in your life. Then, 3 people your appreciate. Then, 3 things about yourself you appreciate. Gratitude knows no bounds and you can continuously be grateful throughout your day, as much as you like, for as long as you like.

Gratitude can be expressed any time, but the holiday season is an especially good time for thankfulness - thanks for presents we give and receive, thanks for the family and friends we have, and thanks for another year of our lives.

It's also not a bad idea to start a Gratitude Journal.

 

Having our hands full during the holidays may be inevitable, but coping with all the activities and remembering what’s actually important during the season is a few steps easier this year.

So get some sleep, read a book, fill up your journal, and don’t forget to breathe while expressing thankfulness this season! We hope these little tips have helped to give you a glimmer of calm and peace. We wish nothing but the best and happiest time for you this season.

Stay warm and Happy Holidays! Much love from The Paper Seahorse Team.❤️

Visit our YouTube channel to see how to make these adorable origami Christmas Trees!