Gratitude can have a significant positive influence on our physical and mental health. Still, like other healthy habits, even though we know it’s good for us, we often struggle to practice it consistently. Sometimes even getting started can feel like a massive obstacle. But the benefits to your own mental health and happiness are worth the small amount of effort it takes to write a gratitude journal. Today I want to remove one obstacle and show you how to start a gratitude journal.
Starting a Gratitude Journal
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What is a Gratitude Journal?
A gratitude journal is, quite simply, a tool to keep track of the good things in life. Life is hard. Everyone faces obstacles and challenges. We go through dark and hard times. It is part of life. But no matter how difficult and defeating life can sometimes feel, there is always something to feel grateful for.
So, what is gratitude?
Studies show that expressing gratitude for people and things in our lives can leave us feeling happy for up to one month afterwards. But let’s face it, it’s easier to focus on what we don’t have, our imperfections, and our problems than it is to be grateful for what we have.
It’s been a rough year for many of us, and we’re inundated with negativity from the news, social media, and even in-person conversations. So, we have to work extra hard to find the good in ourselves and the world around us. We need to learn to notice and express thanks for the positive things around us and build skills that will last a lifetime. One way to do this is to start a gratitude journal.
A gratitude journal is a simple and effective way to build resilience and improve our coping skills to all the negativity in the world around us. Plus, journaling is an excellent opportunity to nurture and encourage positive emotions, find our purpose, feel happier and protect our mental health.
What To Use
There are some wonderful Gratitude Journals available that you can purchase and start using, but you can also start a Gratitude Journal right now with tools you have around you.
Here are some Gratitude Journals you can buy.
Scrapbook Your Gratitude
Using whatever papers and pens and materials you have around, write down your gratitude journal entry each day and glue them into a scrapbook. You can decorate it, add in mementoes, and make your journal truly unique and special.
Grab a Notebook
I have a pile of notebooks I have purchased whenever I would find cute ones on sale. These blank notebooks can become fantastic gratitude journals. If you pick a smaller sized notebook you can assign each day a page. Then on that page write five things you are grateful for each day, plus add in any extra items you want recorded and preserved from that date. Then the next day you can start a new page. Literally you get to start with a blank slate and fresh start each day!
Use a Planner
If you are like many of us, you need to use a planner to help keep your life organized. Many organizers have a small section for each day that traditionally would be used for a daily To Do List. Why not repurpose that section into a list of things you are grateful for?
Gratitude Journal Apps
There are some fantastic apps on all platforms that you can use to create a digital gratitude journal. Some apps to look at are: Gratitude, Grateful – A Gratitude Journal, Day One Journal, Presently – A Gratitude Journal, Reflectly and Mojo – New Gratitude Journal. Some of these may be specific to certain platforms, plus new ones are being released all the time. Find the technical solution that fits your needs.
Gratitude Bullet Journal
With a bullet journal approach you can create a wonderful “wall of gratitude”! Every day you simply add at least one more bullet to your list of things you are grateful for until you have an entire month of amazing gratitude items. Seeing the list every day and watching it grow with each new bullet point is incredibly satisfying for many people. Plus it removes the pressure to find many things to be grateful for each day. You can add just one item a day. Remember to use coloured pens, stickers, doodles, whatever adds to your journal to make it truly special.
A Wall of Gratitude
For a fun and bold twist, consider making a true wall of gratitude. Set up a white board somewhere in your home. Every day add at least one item to your list. At the end of the month you can take a picture to preserve your writings before erasing it and starting fresh with a new month. This type of activity could be especially powerful for a family where everyone can contribute to the wall of gratitude.
Getting Started with a Gratitude Journal
No matter what format you choose, the most important part is getting started! Here are six simple tips to help you get started.
Don’t overdo it.
All habits become more comfortable when we do them consistently. Try to write in your gratitude journal every morning when you first wake up or every night just before going to sleep. But if you feel that this is too overwhelming, try just writing occasionally, once or twice per week. The important thing is to do it. Even just once a week will still provide you with benefits including a boost in happiness.
Try subtraction, not just addition.
One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without specific people or things, rather than just tallying up all those good things. Sometimes we are grateful for things that are no longer in our lives.
Focusing on people to whom you are grateful for has more impact than focusing on things or experiences for which you are thankful.
Elaborate in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful. Especially if it is something really profound and important to you. Sometimes writing in detail about one thing is much more powerful than writing a quick list of little things. Go with what feels right.
Try to record unexpected or surprising events, as these tend to evoke healthier levels of gratitude.
Make it fun!
Gratitude journaling doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. We might be happy to jot down our thoughts or make a list with a few bullet points. And that’s ok! Gratitude journaling doesn’t have to be ‘journaling” at all.
Here is a fun activity for you to do. Once you have a list of items you are grateful for, try writing them down on scraps of paper and pop them in a jar. Then every morning, pull out a new gratitude item and carry that gratitude with you throughout the day to remind you of something that brings you happiness.
This is just one idea. There are so many different ways to have fun with gratitude. Think about how you can incorporate the power of gratitude throughout your day.
Ideas To Inspire Gratitude
There will be days when it’s hard to find something that you are grateful for, so instead of asking yourself, “What are you grateful for today?” maybe try asking yourself, “What made you feel happy today?” or “What made you laugh today?“.
Still feeling stuck and need more ideas? Here are some prompting questions you could ask yourself.
What was the best part of your day today?
Did you see something beautiful today?
What mistake or failure are you grateful for?
What do you like about your job?
What’s something that you grateful to have today that you didn’t have a year ago?
What was your favourite food that you eat today?
Who made you feel loved today?
What friendship that you’re grateful for?
Who did something kind for you today?
What is your favourite place to visit?
What activity are you glad you got to do today?
What’s something that you’re looking forward to?
Open the door or window and look outside. What’s something you’re grateful for outdoors?
What’s a tradition that you’re grateful for?
No one thing is more deserving of our gratitude than another. It’s about what feels meaningful for you. Remember to have fun, be creative, be consistent, and there’s no wrong way to do it.
I hope these ideas help you kickstart your gratitude practice!
Looking to power up your gratitude to start manifesting your higher self? Check out our resource on Manifestation Journals!