How to Use a Gratitude Journal
Updated: Apr 24
Looking to improve your life with greater connection to others, increased personal joy, better sleep, more motivation and less physical pain? Want to start every day in a positive mood, energized, ready to take on the world?
These are all benefits of having a regular gratitude practice like journalling. Take control of your mind and focus on the good. For most of us, being critical and focusing on problems comes easily while appreciation and focusing on the good takes effort. By keeping a gratitude journal, you develop a practice that keeps you accountable to developing appreciation and enjoying happier days.
We hear people say they are grateful the weather is nice, for their partner, or their new iPhone, and then quickly carry on with their day. The gratitude stays very general and does not sink in.
Here are two key ways to effectively practice gratitude in a powerful way - so all those good feelings stick at a core level!
1) Connect with something specific The more detailed you can get while writing what you are grateful for the easier it is to connect with the emotion.
Think about your favourite book. Authors do not just generally describe something bluntly but get into detail to help the reader visualise the scene. Novelists do not just say, “he drove a car,” they say, “he drove a black Mustang that sounded like it held a grudge."
For example, today you may write, “I am grateful for John.” Do you actually feel good writing that down? If not, get specific. What is it about John that makes you grateful?
2) It matters less what you write; It matters more what you experience and feel: Inevitably, writing down gratitudes will feel repetitive. After an initial high of focusing on the good, many journalers throw in the towel because continuing to write what they are grateful for feels lifeless, just going through the motions.
When we ask ourselves what we are grateful for, we try our best to wait for the feeling to kick in before putting pen to paper. We try to visualise our gratitude and why it actually matters to us. This feeling usually happens in our chest, that place where we feel the intensity of a new love and excitement. By waiting a bit longer for that sensation, we know it is coming from a deeper place where we are able to affect our body and mind. This is the way to do gratitude journaling. Take a moment to experience this yourself. What are you grateful for? Really. Right now. Hand on your chest, right over your heart. C’mon. Feel that sensation deep inside. THAT is gratitude.
The thinking usually comes rapidly, but the feeling takes a little bit longer. Waiting for the emotion—the wonder and the awe—makes all the difference when the pen hits the paper.
Gratitude Journal Prompts
Here are example prompts to get you going:
What is an old relationship I am grateful for?
What qualities do I appreciate in a co-worker?
What is one quality I admire about my partner?
What positive quality have I picked up from my friend?
What positive quality have I picked up from my mom?
What positive quality have I picked up from my dad?
What do I admire about the employees at the places I frequent?
What positive quality do I really admire about myself?
What positive qualities of a role model do I value?
How can a perceived weakness of mine also be a strength?
What is one thing I am looking forward to today?
What is an opportunity I have today that most people don’t that I can appreciate?
What one thing (within my control) would make today great?
What is something I am better at today than I was yesterday?
What can I appreciate about today’s weather (in a non-cynical way)?
What is one thing I appreciate about my health?
What positive quality can I find within something I think will suck today?
What do I appreciate about the career skills I have today?
What can I appreciate/accept of my financial situation?
What can I appreciate about my appearance today?
What is one good thing that happened during the day?
What obstacle have I overcome that I appreciate about myself?
What did I appreciate about a former job?
What do I admire about my childhood?
What is a past experience that felt bad at the time that I can appreciate now?
What am I grateful for that I learned in school?
What is one thing I appreciate about my ancestors that allowed me to live the life I have?
What do I appreciate about the food I ate (or didn’t eat) today?
What sight did I see yesterday that I found enjoyable?
What scent did I smell yesterday that I found enjoyable?
Pick one object you love. What do you love about it?
What do I appreciate about the home I live in?
What do I appreciate about the city I live in?
What do I appreciate about the country I live in?
What do I appreciate about the restaurants I frequent?
What is one piece of clothing I appreciate?
What do I appreciate about the music I listen to?
What is one thing I appreciate about my body?
What food do I really appreciate and why?
What type of art do I appreciate and why?
When Should I Write A Gratitude Journal?
You can write what you are grateful for first thing in the morning to start your day off right and then reflect on the good things that happened throughout your day right before going to sleep.
The beginning and the end of the day are times to think, evaluate, and correct course. Have you ever had a day when you woke up and it felt like everything was going your way? Everything was effortless, and all you wanted to do is smile? By starting each day off with gratitude, you get a “hit” of those good feelings first thing in the morning. You are fresh, still waking up and have the precious opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the day with a strong morning routine. Think of it as a hit of caffeine for the soul.
Similarly, what do you typically do before you go to sleep? Do you have a nightly routine? The average person is glued to their screens spending hours on devices right before bed. It keeps our brains running, disturbs our sleep, and worse may cause us to feel terrible about ourselves.
What if you choose to use this time to invest in yourself? In your well-being? Never underestimate the benefits of self-care. Another great idea is known as a 'gratitude rock', simply place a rock or stone in your pocket/purse to carry with you and any time throughout your day that you need a little moment to be positive and present; simply grab the rock out to hold and focus your thoughts towards gratitude. And if you need any help, please reach out and book in for a personal session - be your most powerful loving self.