Journaling is a practice I would recommend to anyone hoping to improve their health and wellness. Coming from a therapist, its probably no surprise. The stigmas attached to journaling and the amount of time it can take to truly experience the benefits of journaling seems to be a turn-off to many people.
So what are the benefits?
I have personally found journaling to be the most beneficial step towards "rewiring" my brain's desire for instant-gratification. Gratitude journaling, more specifically, creates a time and space to reflect on what you appreciate in live and to relive the positive moments in life. As we know, negative or traumatic events in life are retained and remembered much easier than positive or pleasurable events. Traumatic events influence the creation of defense mechanisms in the brain to prevent yourself from experiencing an event like that again. Yet, this can easily turn into anxiety. In more extreme cases, one can develop PTSD as we are seeing time and time again with our returning veterans. When the brain receives positive stimuli, defense mechanisms aren't being built. Therefore the ability to trust, accept, and confide in, either someone or some likely set of events, has the chance to positively reframe one's life narrative. We can't control what stimuli we experience in life but we can influence the probability of experiencing one more than the other and we can learn how to reframe some of the less desirable stimuli that one experiences in life to help dissipate the projections and anxiety attached to them. Gratitude journaling provides one with the ability to influence positivity for themselves by creating the ability to reflect on positive moments that get logged daily. It also teaches someone how to identify desirable events or actions that would normally not get as much attention as an undesirable thought would due to the fact that desirable events or actions do not include a "problem to fix".
If you're following along, the reason as to why benefits of gratitude journaling happen over the long term may be more apparent if they weren't already so. If you're having a hard time with the ability for someone to "rewire" their brain, some basic reading on brain plasticity and the difference in how our brain responds to traumatic as opposed to pleasurable stimuli can help orient you.