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How to Start a Gratitude Journal

by | Dec 6, 2022 | Mindset, Personal Development

Keeping a gratitude journal is much more than just the latest trend … studies have shown that counting your blessings regularly makes you an all-around happier person.  

It’s easy to take what we have for granted, but the purpose of a gratitude journal is to keep those things front-of-mind. The goal is to help you adopt a more positive perspective on life.

It’s important that you don’t just think about the things you’re thankful for. The key is to physically write them out by hand. There is just something about putting pen to paper that cements an attitude of gratitude into your brain long after you complete an entry.  

Here are a few tips to starting your own gratitude journal. 

Make the time. 

Finding a spare moment in the morning or before bedtime to jot down the things you’re thankful for might seem like a chore. But that’s what a gratitude journal is all about—creating time to pause and reflect. This doesn’t mean you have to sit down and write for hours on end. 

In fact, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky has found that people who wrote in gratitude journals once a week for 6 weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward, while people who wrote three times per week didn’t.  

Dedicate 5-10 minutes to your gratitude journal once a week and start by writing down just 3-5 things you’re thankful for. The goal is to keep it simple, yet significant. 

Write about everything—big and small. 

A candle sits on a wooden bench and has the phrase, “enjoy the little things” on it.

What exactly should you write down? Obviously, you’ll want to write out the big things you’re grateful for, but keep in mind that the small, often overlooked things are just as important to document. While you’re thankful for loved ones and friends, it doesn’t mean you can’t also stop to appreciate the little things like great weather or an especially good great meal.  

Get started with prompts.  

At first, the practice of writing down what you’re thankful for might feel a bit awkward, and maybe even a little overwhelming. How are you supposed to pick just 3-5 things to write about when you’re grateful for so much more than that? If you find yourself struggling, it’s a good idea to use some simple prompts to help you dial in your thoughts. Try out a few of our examples. 

Gratitude journal sample prompts: 

  • What are you looking forward to most? 
  • What’s a positive change you’ve made in the past year? 
  • Name something that made you smile this week. 
  • Talk about something you’ve learned recently that’s been helpful. 
  • Who has had a positive impact on your life lately? 

The beauty of a gratitude journal is that it’s yours. You can go into as little or as much detail with these prompts as you want, or you could even make up your own! Coming up with topics before starting your entry for the day can help you further reflect on things or people you may be taking for granted.  

Express Gratitude.

There are so many ways you can express gratitude throughout the day, like simply telling someone you’re grateful for what they do. Keeping a journal is just one practice to help you point out your blessings and add a little more positivity to your life.  

Ready for more advice from the Duncans? Read our blog post here on “Five Ways to Be Generous Without Spending a Penny.”