Thank you – it’s more than just good manners. Did you know it’s a phase that could make you feel happier and be healthier, too? Expressing gratitude leads to more connected relationships, better health, and feeling happier overall. But that sounds too simple to be true, right? Well, it’s not, but it’s not that easy either. Gratitude can change your life for the better, but to get started, you might need a little help. That’s why we’ve gathered together all your need-to-know info about starting a gratitude journal this year and how it will change your life.
What is a gratitude journal, and why is a gratitude journal so important?
Let’s start with the basics – what is a gratitude journal anyway? Simply, a gratitude journal helps you appreciate life more. It’s a way to keep track of life’s pluses and give thanks for the things that you have. But it’s not just a log of your best memories or great times to look back on…it’s so much more.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal can help you stay strong and motivated during tough times. This is for two reasons. First, over time gratitude provides you with an inner lasting strength. And second, even in your darkest moment, you can find something to be happy for.
What are the benefits of a gratitude journal?
As you already know, showing gratitude is proven to be an effective tool for the mind and body. In fact, there’s lots of benefits to be had from spending a few minutes each day writing down what you’re thankful for – even on your worst days.
- Lowers stress levels. By expressing your emotions, you avoid them building up and creating negative effects.
- Releases tension. Journaling is a creative outlet that speaks to your creative energies and helps you actively relax and get rid of tension.
- Helps you gain a better understanding of self. By focusing your mind and writing things down, you will start to understand more about what makes you tick.
- Delivers self-care. Don’t think of this time as selfish. In fact, journaling can make you a better friend or partner.
- Creates clarify and focus on what matters in life. Introspection can help us understand what we value and build focus for future actions.
How to start a gratitude journal?
It’s easy to say pick up a pen and start writing all the things you’re thankful for…but where to start? With you, and here’s how.
First, you need some time alone to think. Even if you’re super busy, it’s so worthwhile to find 10-15 minutes of solitude. Not only will this help you with gratitude journaling, but you’ll recharge your batteries too.
Second, switch on some calming music or sounds, and get in the moment. Remember to sit comfortably. At this point, you can try some gratitude meditations to help you relax. And don’t forget that all-important breathing.
Third, now it’s time to start. Pick up your pen, open up your journal, and let that gratitude flow. At first, it can be hard to know what to write about – we promise it will get easier – but for now, we recommend starting with some of the prompts below.
Best gratitude journal prompts to get you started
In gratitude journaling, there are no right or wrong answers, only how you feel. That’s why it can be so challenging to get started. So, push all those worries aside and take a moment just for yourself. Here are some of the best gratitude journal prompts to get you going. You can write about:
- Someone you’re glad to have in your life
- Your favorite part of the day
- Positive news or something that made you smile
- A favorite song or painting
- A gift you’ve recently received
- Lesson learned
- Favorite place in the local area
- Something beautiful you saw today
- Favorite book
- A recent compliment
- Someone who inspired you
- A challenge you overcame recently
- What you love about the place you live in
- A hobby you have
- Something you love about your work
- One thing you adore about your body
- A friend who gives you the best advice
- Someone who gives you support
- Your favorite cafe or restaurant
- One thing you’re incredibly proud of
Or anything else that’s on your mind. As they say, the world is your oyster.
Challenges, blockers, and why it’s so hard to start: FAQ
we said previously, and despite our tips, you may be finding it hard to express what’s deep inside. These feelings are your internal blockers, and they are standing in the way of your happiness.
Question: I don’t know what to write. How do I start?
Answer: We get it. It’s hard to write about yourself, to look inside, and see who you are. There are no easy answers here. It’s all up to you. To get started, we recommend trying some of our writing prompts.
Here’s a quick example of what an entry could look like:
“A gift you’ve recently received.
Christmas this year was a tough one. We didn’t have the usually extended family gathering. Instead, it was just me, my brother, and my parents. But you know what? I’m so glad we were able to get together for that day. This year, my mom got us an extra special gift that might not seem like much to some but meant everything to me. She got us all matching PJs. We opened them on Christmas eve, and you should have seen the look on her face when we did. She was so excited, like a small child. I’m so thankful to have her in my life. I’m so grateful for her love for us.”
Question: I’m scared someone will read it. What should I do?
Answer: It can be difficult laying yourself bare. All that rawness of emotions on one piece of paper, for anyone to read. Your gratitude journal is only for you, so you decide if you want someone to see it. Here you have two options. You can keep it under lock and key, or you can write then destroy your writing. Here the process of expression is essential. That said, we recommend keeping your writing as future inspiration. Besides, there is nothing more beautiful than the authentic you.
Question: I’m having trouble being honest with myself. What should I do?
Answer: In life, we often seek approval, from ourselves, from our parents, from our friends, from everyone else around. And it can be so challenging to let go of such behavior. Partly we adapt these behaviors because this is how we fit in in society, and while that is partially helpful if we start to deny our true selves, we will never be happy.
That’s why the best thing to do is to start small. Start with a straightforward sentence, a truth about yourself, for example, and work from there. It will be challenging, but you can overcome it. We believe in you.
Top daily gratitude journal tips & other gratitude ideas
Be creative. Gratitude journaling doesn’t have to turn into an essay. You can be as creative as you like with it. From writing long poems to short stories, pictures to photographs, filled with color or classic black and write, your gratitude journal should suit your style. So, whether you love simplicity or eccentricity, how you journal is up to you.
Get the kids started. Journaling and expressing gratitude are great traits to have. And the earlier we get started, the longer the habit will stay with us. That’s why getting your kids involved is a great idea. Start them off simple with small thank you notes to friends and family, then get more creative.
Start with a template. If you find it hard to know which style to use or how to start – use a template. This will give you an outline of how and what you should write to make journaling most effective. After a while, like any talent, it’ll become second nature, and you’ll easily express yourself clearly and with all your heart.
Diversify from journaling. Feeling brave? Then maybe it’s time to try this gratitude action. Write a gratitude letter to someone who you truly appreciate and give it to them in person. Studies show, that by showing your appreciation, not only do you but a smile on the other person’s face, but you can make yourself happier for up to six months.
Why should I try gratitude journaling?
Don’t you want to be happier? To form healthy habits. To feel better. Of course, you do. That’s why, for all these reasons and more, it’s time to start including journaling in your daily routine. We’re not saying that gratitude journaling is a cure-all. But it is self-care, and that’s important for your well-being. It’s not selfish or a waste of time, and it is one way to feel more fulfilled. So, why not do something simple for yourself and give journaling a try?