Gratitude journaling is a way to express what you are thankful for in your life. These gratitude journal prompts help you to focus on the things that are good in your life. Right now. Each day. It is a way to focus on the present moment and the things that make your life rich.
Gratitude is the “quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.
Being grateful for what you have now does not mean you can’t want more or reach for more in the future. It is a way to stop and smell the roses right now. It is also a great way to shift your mind to the present with a positive thought process. Instead of dwelling on negativity.
What to Write:
What do you write in a gratitude journal?
A gratitude journal can be as brief or as long as you want. Not much of a writer? That’s okay. Just do a bulleted list of 3 things you are grateful for today.
If you love to write, you can create a whole essay.
This process is all about taking the time to reflect. Not your word count. Take the time to think of the things that made you smile today. That took your breath away. Or the people who popped into your head and made you smile.
You don’t need gratitude journal prompts to keep a list of what you are grateful for or to help you express gratitude. But it helps on those days where you are feeling a little irritated or pissed at the world and can’t come up with anything on your own.
What does a gratitude journal do?
A gratitude planner or journal is just a way to help you track the things you are grateful. It creates a “pause” in your day that lets you focus on the positive things in your life.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings…–William Arthur Ward.
turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings”
Keeping a journal or planner with all of your grateful moments and thoughts can have a positive impact on your life. It is possible to see a positive improvement in one or more of the following:
- an increase in your positivity
- improvement in self-esteem
- better sleep
- an all around happier you
- reduction in stress
That list right there is reason enough to give journaling about your gratitude a try.
When should you write in a gratitude journal?
Set a time to write in your journal. When doesn’t really matter. The habit is what matters. You need to develop a routine around practicing gratitude.
Make it a consistent habit so you can actually see the benefits of the practice.
Some people like to wake up in the morning and write in their planners, journals, or diary. This is suggested by the author of this book because it is a great way to start your day on a positive note.
Other people like to reflect in the evening before they go to bed. And it may help you to sleep better because you are falling asleep thinking of all the good things in your life instead of all the things you would normally stress about.
You could even set a timer on your phone or take 5 minutes in the afternoon to practice gratitude and write it down. When doesn’t matter so much as making it a daily habit.
Do gratitude planners and journals really work?
“A study at the University of California found that people who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health than those who didn’t. In fact, cultivating a gratitude practice has numerous benefits from increased happiness, better sleep, and more creativity. It can even make you more altruistic.” – Forbes.com
On days where you think only negative thoughts, focus on you worries, and grumble about anything and everything, how do you feel? Crappy! It was crap day. Nothing good happened. Life sucked! And your memory bank stores it that way too. Then you dwell on it with a scowl on your face.
What would happen if you flipped that on its head? Found one good thing about something that happened on that “ultra shitty day”? You would probably feel your mood start to shift.
Just a bit.
Now find the good in two or three things. Sure. It was still a crappy day. But it didn’t ruin your attitude. It didn’t sour all the good things that came along as well. That is the power of gratitude journaling.
What should I put on my gratitude list?
There are so many things to be grateful for. Sometimes, you sit down to write about them and your mind goes blank.
Use these prompts to help inspire your gratitude and help you to write in your journal. These can be used in your Happy Planner pages, your creative journal, a bullet journal, or just a regular old composition notebook.
Where you write isn’t important. That you express your gratitude is the important part. Pick on of these gratitude prompts and get started.
- Who special someone has taught you about unconditional love in the past or present?
- Write about something you saw recently that warmed your heart.
- List 3 people and/or things you feel that you take for granted. How can you express more appreciation for these things or people?
- What’s something that you’re looking forward to?
- Who are the people that first come to mind that don’t have it as good as you do?
- Write down one good thing that happened to you today.
- What are your biggest accomplishments?
- List 2 struggles you experienced in life that you have overcome. What or who have helped you to overcome these trials?
- What things made you laugh out loud this week?
- Think of 3 times that pure luck or grace has saved you. Write a paragraph about each and focus on who and how the events took place.
- What’s something that you grateful to have today that you didn’t have a year ago?
- What are five personality traits that you are most thankful for?
- Think about the worst period you went through in your life and list 10 ways life is better now than it was then.
- What about nature are you grateful for?
- What about your upbringing are you most grateful for?
- What’s something about your body or health that you’re grateful for?
- Make a list of 20 ways you are fortunate.
- Are you happy with how your day turned out?
- What are irritations in your life that could use a change in perspective? Can you take less seriously, find humor in? How can that change have a positive effect on your life?
- What friends are you most grateful for having? List what makes each friend special.
- What meals do you most enjoy making or eating?
- Open the door or window and look outside. What’s something you’re grateful for outside?
- Name 3 talents or qualities you have that you are grateful for.
- What things do you own that make life easier?
- List 5 things you love about your home.
- What were your 3 best days? Write a small paragraph about each day.
- Open your phone or photo album and find a photo that you like. Why are you grateful for this photo? What are you grateful for in the photo?
- Write the top 10 things in your life that cause you stress. For each stress factor, write what you can do to change it.
- Can you do better tomorrow?
- What were your worst three days? Write a small paragraph about each day and think how much better off you are now.
- What is the most beautiful place you have been to? Relive being in this place now.
- What have you been given that you’re grateful for?
- Name 5 things you are doing well currently.
- Think of 5 people that drive you nuts or just irritate the crap out of you. Or you have trouble getting along with. What irritates you most about them? Now list 3 positive notes or qualities about each person.
- Think about the qualities of the people you admire. List these qualities and how you can incorporate them in your life.
- What’s something or someone that makes you feel safe?
- What 3 things you love about the town, area, or neighborhood you live in?
- What artist, author, or musician are you grateful for?
- Think of 3 stereotypes that do not have it as good as you (sick children, homeless people, the disabled, elderly, war victims, etc). What could you do to help people in these situations?
- Did you have a nice surprise today? Write about it.
- What public service or organization are you grateful for (i.e. the library or fire department)?
- List something good that has recently caught your attention to make you realize how fortunate you are.
- What book(s) are you grateful for?
- Did you do something nice to someone today? Write about it.
- Name 3 things that always put a smile on your face.
- Write about a teacher or mentor that you’re grateful for.
- What’s a tradition that you’re grateful for?
- Write about a time someone went out of their way to help you.
- Think about a time that you went out of your way to help someone.
- What family members are you most grateful for? Write about what makes them special.
- List 3 things you could do today to be a kinder person.
- What mistake or failure are you grateful for?
- What do you really appreciate about your life?
- Spend a few minutes focusing on your 5 senses and write down how you can be more mindful of each.
- What is something nice another person did for you today or this week?
- What’s something that you bought recently that you’re grateful for?
- What is something nice you did for another person today or this week?
- What’s a simple pleasure that you’re grateful for?
- What’s something that you made recently that you’re grateful for?
- How can you continue being more thankful?
- Name 3 things that you can start doing today to express your gratitude to others? (helping, volunteering, donating, etc). Start doing it in the next few days.
- Look around the room and write about everything you see that you’re grateful for.
- What has been the highlight of your day today?
- What about your career or job are you grateful for?
- Who or what in your life are you happy to have let go?
- What physical characteristics are you most grateful for?
- Name 3 things that have happened to you that have strengthened your character and who you are today (positive or negative events).
Why is gratitude so hard to practice?
Gratitude is hard to practice somedays because negativity is way easier to focus on.
Feelings of gratitude are almost always connected to people in your life. That makes expressing your gratitude a little harder because we want to be independent. Do it ourselves. Be responsible for our own well being and emotions. But sometimes, you need others to lift you up.
Human nature does not leave much place for it gratitude. You have to practice it regularly and it is often a sign of emotional maturity when you can begin to practice it effortlessly.
That is why you need to develop a “daily gratitude habit” and really dig deep to understand why you are thankful for your current situation, belongings, and relationships. Turn it into a muscle memory.
Using the gratitude writing prompts will help you on those days that you really just can’t wrap your brain around a good thought. That is okay. It happens to all of us.
What is the best gratitude planner or journal?
The best journal, planner, or notebook for gratitude journaling is the one that you will use.
It really is that simple.
Pretty journals, special gratitude notebooks, or fancy diaries are not necessary. Unless they make you happy. Then by all means, get that gorgeous journal with gold fillagree.
Personally, I use a horizontal planner layout from Happy Planner to journal my gratitude each day. Some days I dress them up with stickers. Other days I just leave it plain Jane.
If I need more space, I add in notebook paper.
What does a gratitude journal look like?
A gratitude journal or planner can be notebook paper that you add to your current planning system.
You can set aside pages in your bullet journal for your gratitude practice and gratitude writing.
Grab a composition notebook, decorate the cover, and add some prompts and washi tape.
Print out this gratitude journal and add it to a binder.
There are endless ways to design gratitude journals. Just be sure you use it!
A few books about gratitude
My personal favorite book about gratitude is the Miracle Morning. I am not a morning person and developing habits that set me up for a positive day has helped boost my productivity, elevate my mood, and made my daily gratitude practice super easy.
If you don’t already have a planner or bullet journal and you want prompts and a designated space to write them, then something like a guided journal is what you are looking for.
Gratitude quotes and affirmations are another great way to get your thoughts turned toward positivity. Read a card and then use it as a prompt.
An example would be: “I see beauty in the parts of me that I used to think were broken”. Journal about the parts of you that you viewed this way. How did you overcome that thought process? What do you love about those parts now? Saying what you love about something is a way of expressing gratitude.
If you prefer a religious focus to your daily journaling and want to use devotional prompts to express your gratitude, that is a great way to journal about gratitude as well.