Introduction: Gratitude Journal (Online)
People lose journals.
I have attempted to keep my personal thoughts in a journal for sometime. I would write in it for a long time and then I would forget to bring it to work, or on vacation, or I would lose it for a while. The whole thing was difficult to keep going long enough to see results in my mood and outlook. I love the feel of pen and paper and I think my thoughts flow more organically in this form, but I am tired of the physical and security problems inherent in the system.
I believe a lack of gratitude is at the source of my trouble with anxiety. I am a recent college graduate and I have been running myself ragged attempting to find a "big kid job". This drive to succeed seemed to be directly in opposition of my happiness. When I looked for jobs I discounted my present for a future with higher job satisfaction and greater material wealth. I was anxious for sometime (and still am occasionally)
At some point I started to read articles about being calm on the internet. After a long trawl through blogs I found the following article: Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Emmons and McCullough lay out a study that asks students focus on various types of journaling over an extended period. One group writes about things that trouble them, one group writes about trivial topics and their lives, and a final group writes about what they are grateful for. The group who kept a gratitude journal saw emotional and interpersonal benefits.
Losing Journals + Anxiety + Gratitude Research = Online Gratitude Journal
This instructable will help you create a gratitude journal that will help you focus on your blessings without fear of losing it. In addition, this journal will nag you to make entries through e-mail. If the above study has any merit at all, you should see the emotional and interpersonal benefits it outlines.
Edit - I just found this news story about the benefits of gratitude....enjoy
*The art piece that provides a cover art for this instructable is “Something Pacific” by Nam June Paik. Learn more about the art piece here.
Step 1: Create Your Google Form
The first thing you will need is a Google Form from Google Drive to collect your responses.
1) Log into your Google account and open up Google Drive.
2) Once in Google Drive, open up Google Forms.
3) Write your questions.
Questions - I chose to give myself three prompts for things I have gratitude for and one thing I did right. I find that I focus on things that are bad and things I have done badly throughout my day. Habitually filling out this form helps me re-frame my experience.
Category - under each gratitude inquiry I have listed a category inquiry. These category questions are useful when you want to analyze what you feel gratitude towards. More on this in later steps.
Journaling - The second to last question is a paragraph text box designed for any random journaling or experience recording I would like to do.
Changes - My final question relates to ways to change the form in the next version.
4) Click choose response destination.
5) Assign your form to deposit its information onto a Google Sheet.
6) Leave your Google Form open in another tab for use in the next step.
Step 2: Create an IFTTT Recipe
I often lose things in my various digital lockers. I didn't want my gratitude journal to be one of those things. To give my journal more presence in my online life, I used IFTTT to prompt me to use it.
1) Log into or sign up for IFTTT.
2) Create a recipe.
3) Choose TIME AND DATE as your trigger channel.
4) Choose EVERY DAY AT as your trigger. You can choose a less frequent interval, but it would be less effective.
5) Choose the time you would like your form sent to you. I chose 4AM so I would always have it in the morning no matter how early I rose.
6) Choose EMAIL as your action channel.
7) Choose SEND ME AN EMAIL as your action.
8) During the COMPLETE ACTION FIELDS step you can choose what is e-mailed to you each day. For the title I wrote "Gratitude Journal" and for the body I wrote "Fill out your gratitude journal! Reprogram that brain and be happy! You can do it!"
This next part is the important bit. Go back to your Google Form and click VIEW LIVE FORM. Then go copy the URL at the top of your browser. Then go back to IFTTT and paste that URL in the body of the COMPLETE ACTION FIELDS section. That way you can click on the link when it arrives in your e-mail.
9) Under the CREATE AND ACTIVATE step you can name your recipe. I named mine "Gratitude Journal".
10) Click CREATE RECIPE.
Now your journal will ask you to fill it out every day. This should increase your use of it.
Step 3: Link It
To add further presence to your journal you can create bookmarks in the browsers you use everyday. I have my journal linked on my laptop and my phone.
Laptop - go to your favorite browser and bookmark your live form on your Bookmark Bar (See Photo and Mozilla Instructions)
Phone - I linked my live form on my important stuff bar at the bottom of my display on my android phone (See Photo and PC Advisor Instructions)
Step 4: Keep It Up
The reason that you have linked your journal in several locations and used IFTTT to pester you about filling it out is to keep gratitude in the forefront of your mind. If you wire your brain to move to gratitude instead of despair when something goes wrong, you will be able to survive that thing easier. However, it could take years to do this on an unconscious level. Until then, you need to fill this thing out habitually.
Keep it up....you owe it to yourself.
Step 5: Analyze It
When I started my gratitude journal I had no intention of doing any real analysis of it. To be honest, this method does not need hard analysis. However, it is possible and could be beneficial. I understand how to do one form of analysis that is rather simple and unsophisticated. One day, I would like to make pie charts and graphs that analyze my gratitude. If anyone can help me with that, I would be grateful. I have outlined my simple method below.
1) Go to the Google Sheet that records responses to your Google Form.
2) Copy the columns that record the category of your gratitude entries.
3) Paste into Textfixer.com's Word Analysis Tool.
4) See interesting results.
Thanks for reading.....now start reprogramming your brain!