A Quick Guide to Daily Gratitude Journals
How to Start a Gratitude Journal
Writing is an effective method for many people to unplug and assess their emotions and reactions. However, a daily gratitude journal is a leveled-up version that can help us with long-term happiness, healthy social circles and even calm us down for more restful sleep.
The mental and physical health benefits of keeping a gratitude journal is well worth the 5-15 minutes (or longer, it’s up to you) it takes to reflect on our day. Here are some quick tips on how to get started.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
Gratitude is a personal practice that sometimes gets pushed aside or taken for granted. Busy schedules that keep our minds constantly distracted can make it tricky to remember the good things that happened throughout the day.
When we take the time to form a habit of acknowledging the little things that make us thankful, it makes us more aware of those positive moments which can improve our overall sense of wellbeing.
A gratitude journal provides a physical task for us to record those events which in turn, helps us form the healthy habit of reflecting and living more mindfully. Not only does writing down what you’re grateful for provide an outlet to better explain how you feel, you can also look back on previous entries and enjoy those moments that may otherwise be forgotten.
What Should a Gratitude Journal Include?
There’s no one end-all-be-all way to keep a gratitude journal, but here are a few things some folks like to include.
- First and foremost, a journal that brings you joy (and some pens that make your handwriting sing)
- Dates of when you’re starting your entry
- Pictures or items that remind you of your grateful moment (think pressed flowers/stickers/etc.)
- Sticky notes with lyrics or quotes that inspire you
Starting a Gratitude Journal
Once you’ve got your journal picked out, the rest is all about setting time aside or creating a ritual to write in it once a day a few times a week.
- Set a goal of how many times you want to write a week—a good rule of thumb is around 3-5 times, but go at your own pace
- Think about how many moments you’d like to include a day—sometimes it’s easier to have a set number so you have to think about something you should be thankful for that might’ve gone unnoticed
- Talk about what your life would look like without the things you’re grateful for
- Use writing prompts to get the ball rolling if you feel stuck such as “Who is someone you call when you want to cheer up, what do you love about that person?” or “What’s one way you’ve been able to find gratitude despite limitations?”
- Record how you feel before you start writing and afterward—you can use this to keep track of how you feel over time
Tips for Writing in Your Gratitude Journal
The best part about a gratitude journal is that it’s yours. It’s there to serve you and your needs, so the best tip is to do what feels best for your mental health and go from there. If you’re stumped, here are some easy tips to start with.
- Be specific about the event that took place. “I’m grateful that I got to play a board game with my friends” can go a little farther than “I’m grateful for my friends.”
- Don’t be afraid to also go in more detail about how that moment or person makes you feel. “I feel grateful when my coworker compliments my work. It makes me feel appreciated and I’m thankful they notice my hard work” can have more of an effect than “I’m thankful my coworker likes my work.”
- Perspective is everything—if you treat moments of gratitude like gifts it helps keep us from feeling disappointed if our day doesn’t go according to plan or from taking positive moments for granted.
- Variety is the spice of life—try to see the good in other facets of life than the normal ones if you find some of your moments getting redundant.
- Make journaling a habit. Give yourself that time and space to reflect and see how it can help you notice the good things that occur in your life.
Feel free to take the ideas here that work, ditch the ones that don’t and create the writing space that feels best for you and your needs. Remember to enjoy the little things and take the time to appreciate them as they come.