Let’s talk about one of the most beneficial gratitude practices, the Gratitude Journaling that I also practice in my daily life and as I found it effective, I would like to share it with you. Before that a quick reminder of the benefits of being grateful that you can also read in my previous article.
Benefits of expressing gratitude for the individual:
- increased happiness and positive mood
- more satisfaction with life
- less materialistic
- less likely to experience burnout
- better physical health
- better sleep
- less fatigue
- lower levels of cellular inflammation
- greater resiliency
- encourages the development of patience, humility, and wisdom
Benefits of expressing gratitude for groups:
- increases prosocial behaviors
- strengthens relationships
- may help employees’ effectiveness
- may increase job satisfaction
This article by BBC also suggests that gratitude is one of the three things besides mindfulness and connection with others, that can make you happier in challenging times that we experience right now.
Why Gratitude Journaling?
Reflecting and writing down the things that you are grateful for is one of the easiest and most popular gratitude exercises available. It is a tool to keep track of the good things in life.
But what makes Gratitude Journaling so effective? What kind of benefits can you experience due to your journaling practice?
- Gratitude Journaling can lower your stress level and help you feel more balanced.
- It has a positive impact on your sleep quality as it can help you feel calmer, especially at night.
- By noting what we are grateful for increases our self-esteem as it makes you aware of the good things that surround you.
- Journaling can help you reflect about your priorities, it can give you a new perspective on what is truly important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life.
- It also makes you more mindful as you can gain more clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can do without as by Gratitude journaling can help you find out and focus on what really matters to you.
- It helps you to develop your personality as you learn more about yourself and become more self-aware by reflecting about the things that you are grateful for in your life.
- Your gratitude journal is just for you, so you can write anything you feel without worrying about judgment from others.
- It helps you to readjust your attitude and remember all the good things in your life on days when you feel blue.
When can I Feel the Benefits of Gratitude Journaling?
According to a study by Joel Wong and Joshua Brown, the mental health benefits of gratitude could be experienced after one month and a more significant difference could be felt after 12 weeks. So take your time, don’t expect immediate results and stay consistent with your practice, then you should also experience the benefits of gratitude journaling on your well-being.
How to Start Your Gratitude Journaling Practice?
- Find a journal, it can be a “classic” paper journal or you can write your Gratitude Journal also online on your computer or on your mobile phone (or have a look at the gratitude apps at the end of the article).
- Set the time when and how often you want to note the things that you are grateful for and plan for it 5-15 minutes. You can set an alarm reminder on your phone or schedule it in your calendar. For some people it is easier to write at night before going to bed but it can be also in the morning. (If something comes into your mind outside of your journaling time, you can also note it for later.) At the beginning it can help you to develop the journaling habit if you set the exact time whether you want to write every day, every other day or twice a week, consistency is the key! If you don’t feel like practicing your gratitude, it is ok sometimes to skip it. Be mindful with your feelings and allow yourself to observe them.
- Find a calm and safe place where you can reflect. Sometimes it helps if you keep your journal at the same place as a reminder for your journaling practice as the place where you keep track of the good things in your life can become a kind of symbol of gratitude.
- Set up a positive mindset. Focus on the benefits and how writing a gratitude journal can help you to improve your life.
- Write down as many things as you feel grateful right now. They don’t have to be deep or something extraordinary, they can be as simple as a nice breakfast or a new book that you enjoyed recently. Accept that there will be some days when you need to gift yourself understanding and flexibility for finding even one thing that makes you grateful.
- Use Gratitude Journal prompts if you need some help for your gratitude items. You can use the “Gratitude Conversation Starters” from the article Why is it worth practicing Gratitude? or you can find some prompts below that can help you in your journaling practice.
- Reflect on why you are grateful for the things you write down. This can help you understand what is truly important to you and what you can cut out of your life.
- Focus on people rather than things. It’s okay to be thankful for your smartphone or your car, but the joy you receive from important relationships likely dwarfs your fondness for electronics.
- Try to enjoy the act of journaling, don’t rush through the process.
- Keep the negative out of your journal.
- Include surprises in your list. Surprises can provoke a greater emotional response than planned activities and can be excellent and motivating to look back on when you’re feeling stuck in the rut of routine.
- Variety is the spice of life! Try to list new things into your journal.
- Be creative, even if you don’t think you’re creative. Feel like adding a picture of your significant other or draw something symbolic about your loved ones instead of making them into a single line? Do it!
- Give it a chance. It takes about three weeks to establish a new habit, so aim for at least three weeks of daily journaling before making any judgments. The only thing you can lose if you don’t try Gratitude Journaling out is a few minutes a day, hardly a huge loss.
- When is the last time that someone put a smile on your face? How did it happen?
- What is a song that you enjoy, and why do you like it?
- List 5 activities or things that bring you joy, and why?
- List 5 things that you look forward to in the next 1 year, and why?
- Describe your favorite food. How did you find out about it?
- Name someone that has made an impact in your life, and how did they help you?
- Tell about a family member you are grateful for.
- Choose 3 people to say thank you to today.
- Tell about a time you were grateful for something a friend did for you.
- Tell about a time that you were grateful for someone helping you when you were hurt.
- Name a person who you can count on whenever you need a listening ear. How are you thankful for that person?
- Who is someone you have a hard time getting along with? Think of at least 3 positive things to say about that person.
- What are 3 ways to say “thank you” without using the words thank you?
- Tell about something you have learned this week.
- What is something that you’ve learned this week that you’re thankful for?
- What is a sound you are grateful for?
- What is a smell that you are grateful for?
- What taste are you grateful for?
- Which of your five senses are you most grateful for?
- If you had to give up all your possessions what 3 things would you keep?
- Which season are you most grateful for and why?
- Talk about all the people who keep you safe.
- Talk about all the ways you are healthy.
If you need any journal templates you can find them here:
If you want to write an online gratitude journal, here are some apps that you can use:
Give it a try and I wish that you can enjoy all the benefits of the Gratitude Journal! 🙂