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Starting a Gratitude Journal

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  • Post last modified:December 1, 2022

If you’ve ever kept a diary, you’ll probably enjoy keeping a gratitude journal. Instead of recording your innermost thoughts or secrets, you’ll record daily reasons for gratitude. Maybe a favorite quote about gratitude or something that happened to you – big or small. Getting started is simple! Just follow these steps to start a gratitude journal of your very own.

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1. Focus on Your Why

Instead of diving in just because it seems like a good idea, figure out why keeping a gratitude journal is important for you. This will help you stick to the habit and derive more joy from it. 

Some advantages of gratitude journaling include more serenity, less stress, finding clarity, and learning more about yourself are all possible.

 2. Select Your Journal

Would you prefer to handwrite or record your thoughts in a digital format? Do you want something you can carry with you? Lined or unlined? What type of binding? Picking a journal you love is important. It will help you feel excited about this new habit.

Some people like to combine their gratitude journal with their daily planner. There are options for that as well. It’s about deciding what works for you.

lined journal gray blanket cup of tea

3. Make Time

With the hectic lives we all lead, it can be hard to incorporate something new. Especially something that involves quiet introspection. Choose a time you know you’ll be able to do this. Perhaps getting up five minutes earlier or right before going to bed at night.

Whatever time you choose, it needs to be one when you’ll be able to sit quietly and make your notes without interruption.

4. Start with Prompts

Getting started with a gratitude journal can feel overwhelming or monotonous. If your routine is fairly the same day-to-day, you might find that what you’re grateful for doesn’t feel like it varies much, either. Or you might feel so overwhelmed with life that finding something to be grateful for is tough.

Gratitude prompts can be very helpful, especially when you’re getting started. Try these ideas to get things going:

  • Name someone who did something nice for you without being asked
  • Write about a time someone you loved did something you appreciated
  • List three people who helped you when you were in a tough situation
  • List three silly things your kids or pets did today
  • Write about a time when you were able to help someone else through a difficult situation
  • Come up with three ways to thank someone without saying “thank you”
  • Think about someone who helped you become the person you are today and write about them
  • What’s one thing that makes you unique and that you love about yourself
  • Consider your surroundings and write down five things that aid you in your daily life.
  • What are some inspiring words you’ve read lately?
  • What’s something you see outside your window that you’re grateful for
  • When was the last time you laughed until you cried? Write about that
  • Which recent event in your life gave you a valuable lesson? 
  • Write about why you’re grateful for the place you live
  • If you had to give up all of your possessions except three, which would you keep, and why
  • Reflect on a mistake you’ve made and write about what you learned from it
  • Why did you begin keeping a gratitude journal? Thank yourself for moving forward with this.
  • What’s something you have now that you didn’t a year ago? Write about why you’re grateful for it
  • Choose a photo at random and journal about why you’re grateful for that person, memory, or event
  • Journal about an event you’re looking forward to

woman writing in journal

5. Keep it Fresh

If you’ve been journaling for a while and get stuck, try putting something you’ve already written about into a new context. As an example, if you’ve written about why you’re grateful for your home, try thinking about why others love visiting you in your home. You can also try these categories:

Ideas:

  • The current season
  • Something new you’ve learned
  • A family tradition
  • A favorite hobby you have
  • Something you’ve recently accomplished
  • Something you’re struggling with
  • A recent change

People:

  • A random person who brightened your day
  • Someone you love
  • Someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • A person from your past
  • Coworkers, teachers, or mentors
  • An artist or musician who inspires you
  • Someone who lives far away

Places:

  • Your favorite vacation
  • Your home, bed, or favorite room
  • Your neighborhood
  • Where you grew up
  • Your favorite store
  • The town you live in

Thing:

  • Favorite food/beverage
  • Morning routine
  • Job
  • Hobbies/activities you enjoy
  • Best gift you ever received

Keep it Going

There are no rules, and you can change how you journal as you go along. Check in with yourself once a month or so and see how you’re feeling. Do you still enjoy the process of keeping a gratitude journal? If not, what could you change about it? Are you feeling happier? Has your self-talk changed? Do you want to involve your family? Are there other creative outlets you’d like to explore for recording your gratitude?

Remember, go easy on yourself. New habits take time to develop, and starting a gratitude journal is no different. As you go along, you may find things you want to share with others. Go with that feeling – you’ll brighten their day, and you might just wind up in their gratitude journal!

Do you keep a gratitude journal? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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