Do you want to keep a gratitude journal and make sure you use it regularly? Here, you’ll find out how to keep a gratitude journal to make your life better and get some tips to help you stick with it.
Last weekend I went away with friends to Antwerp, Belgium. We had a wonderful weekend and we did many things. On Saturday before we went out for dinner, I asked everyone: what was your happy moment during the day? The interesting thing was, everyone had a different moment they found special.
It made us all very joyful to reflect back on the day and think about what moment made us grateful for the weekend away with friends.
Later I googled and found out that keeping something like a gratitude journal will lead to a more fulfilled life. I know gratitude is something important in life, that’s why I want to share with you what I’ve learned about gratitude journaling.
Let Go Of Needing
The first step towards being more grateful in life is to let go of the need for new stuff.
When I was younger, I bought a lot of new things – hoping that I would fit in and would feel happier. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.
I told myself that I really needed the new shoes, I needed the new workout clothes, or that I needed to get the latest phone.
I needed none of those things. My shoes were fine, my workout clothes were fine, and my phone was functioning perfectly.
What I really needed to work on was my mindset. Be content with what you have, appreciate everything around you, and be grateful.
When you let go of the mindset of “I need XYZ” and you shift to gratitude, the need to buy new things grows smaller and smaller. It really helped me tremendously, I’m even on a clothing ban currently and I’ve done no spend months in the past.
Benefits Of Journaling
It is easier to stick to habits when you know why you’re doing it. So why should you start and keep your gratitude journal?
It is incredible how many benefits you get from gratitude journaling. You lower your stress levels, are generally more relaxed, and get insight is what is important to you. Besides that, you sleep better, feel happier, feel healthier, get improved self-esteem, and compare less to others.
That sounds great! Now let’s get into the practical stuff.
How To Start A Gratitude Journal?
1. Get A Journal
What you like to write in differs per person. Some value a pretty journal, some like unlined pages, and some prefer to keep a digital gratitude journal. Think about what you prefer and go for it!
If you’re feeling creative, try making the journal yourself. Pick an inexpensive notebook and put some photos on it that make you smile – you can pick quotes, people, or things. When you’re making a notebook that you like to see and look at, the chance of you sticking to your new habit increases.
If you prefer getting one, I would recommend you choose the journal that gets you excited to start your gratitude journal.
2. Determine When You’ll Write
When you want to create a new habit, the easiest thing to do is to do it together with something you’re already incorporating into your life.
If you want to start journaling, do it together with your morning routine or when you’re in bed reading books before going to sleep. Personally, I do my gratitude journal when I wake up, after I’m done meditating I simply sit down and write down things I’m grateful for.
When you determine what is your dedicated time you will spend on gratitude journaling, the habit will form quickly. It is something that you WANT to do, not something you have to do. You choose to do it at a certain time.
If you are busy and you feel that once a week would be enough for you, go for it. Building up the habit of writing down what you’re grateful for and actually sitting down and writing is important.
Over time, you will start to notice the benefits and you will never want to stop!
3. Think Of Gratitude Journal Prompts
It can be hard to begin writing when you don’t know where to start.
Here are a few gratitude prompts to get you started:
- Think about things you’re grateful for about yourself
- Write down the last mistake you made and what you took away from that situation, what are you grateful for leaning?
- List three people that you’re grateful for in your life
- Look around you, name three things that you’re grateful for
- Think about things you’re grateful for at your job
- Write down something you’re looking forward to
- List a situation that made you smile today
- Think about someone that unexpectedly helped you over the past week
- Write down a moment you had with a loved one that you enjoyed
- Think about what you have learned recently that you’re grateful for
When you try out different gratitude journal prompts, you will quickly learn which gives you the most positive energy and which gives you the best feeling.
Your journal prompt looks like:
- “Today I’m grateful for my phone because I can keep in touch with anyone I want to”
- “I’m grateful for my manager because we can get along very well”
- “I’m grateful for my job because I can provide for myself while learning an entire skillset”
For some people just saying that you’re grateful is enough, for me, it’s important to add WHY. The why to your gratitude helps to get you deeper immersed in the gratitude journal and will let you feel the emotions better.
4. Connect With The Emotion
The more specific you get, the easier it is to feel the emotion. When you’re listing 20 things you’re grateful for in a few minutes, it’s harder to connect to the emotion compared to when you’re listing 5 things and diving deep.
First, think about the thing you’re grateful for and wait a few seconds until you really feel the gratefulness for whatever it is you’re thinking about at that moment. Try to really see what you’re grateful for and why it is important for you. Wait until you get a feeling of excitement in your chest – that’s the feeling you’re looking for.
When you experience that feeling, write down what you’re grateful for and enjoy the feeling of gratefulness.
5. Do What Works For You
The thing is that for keeping a gratitude journal, there are no rules about how to do it. It is by you, for you, not needing to be seen by anyone else.
Try it out, experiment with what you like, and keep building on that experience.
You can decide what journal you’re getting, if you want to make drawings, if you want to add a why to your gratitude list. Do whatever feels good for you at that moment.
One thing I can recommend is involving those around you later in the practice. You can ask your kids what they enjoyed about their school day or you can ask your spouse what they are grateful for that day.
What I do with my partner just before we go to bed, we each say three things we are grateful for about each other. It feels really good to express it and to be appreciated every single day. I would recommend it to everyone!
Best Gratitude Journals
There are many journals out there that want to guide you, but the best are:
The 90-Day Gratitude Journal
This is a journal with instructions for each prompt, which makes it easy to fill in the prompt for each day. Besides that, the journal uses simple science-backed ways to record your thoughts and focus on the positives of your day.
This makes it a great journal if you want to start the habit of a gratitude journal.
The One-Minute Gratitude Journal
This is a straightforward way of keeping a gratitude journal, where you have an inspirational quote about money on each page and you may write or draw whatever you want.
Gratitude: A Journal
This journal is great if you want challenges, quotes, and prompts about what you’re grateful for. It is easy to take with you but it doesn’t have space for longer writing.
Create Your Own Gratitude Journal
You can always create your own gratitude journal by buying your own notebook and decorating it with things that make you smile. That’s the way I’m doing it now!
Just buy a journal that fits you and motivates you to stick to your new habit!
Do you keep a gratitude journal? What do you think about it?
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.