Gratitude Journal: Examples, Ideas, and Strategies
What is a gratitude journal? Why might you want a gratitude journal? And how do you make sure you stick to using your gratitude journal? Here are some science-based strategies.
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What Is a Gratitude Journal?
A gratitude journal is a notebook, diary, or even an app where you can keep track of the things that you're grateful for. You simply note down the things you are grateful for each day or a few times per week. There are lots of different types of gratitude journals (more below). So when it comes to defining what a gratitude journal is, it's really up to you to make it what you want it to be.
Benefits of Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude is thought to be an essential part of prosocial behavior . Moreover, gratitude journaling is thought to boost well-being . Some suggest that gratitude is good for us because it can help us think positive. It also may strengthen our connections to others because we appreciate them more and they notice. In addition, gratitude may be one of the easier emotional skills to develop. Unlike mindfulness, which can be quite tricky to learn, gratitude is relatively easy. So a simple gratitude journal is a great place to start when it comes to self-care.
5 of the Best Gratitude Journals
1. Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal
5. Life & Apples Wellness Planner - Food Journal and Fitness Diary with Daily Gratitude and Meal Planner for Healthy Living
Video: How to stick to gratitude journaling
Sometimes, especially when we're feeling sad, it's hard to figure out what to be grateful for. Here are some examples to help you start thinking of things that you can write about in your gratitude journal.
People to be grateful for
Things to be grateful for
Places to be grateful for
Experiences to be grateful for
Feelings to be grateful for
Other stuff to be grateful for
Need some more words to explain your gratitude in your gratitude journal.
Here are some gratitude words:
And here are some more idea for how to express words of gratitude:
And here are some quick gratitude statements you can use:
Gratitude Practices to Do in Your Gratitude Journal
1. Gratitude notes
Gratitude notes are small notes of appreciation designated for specific people. You can draft these notes in your gratitude journal by thinking of a few people you appreciated recently. Ask yourself: What did they do? Why was it important to you? Then write out a note or two on a sticky or in a text message to send to these people. By sharing your gratitude you can amplify it and make others feel good too.
2. The gratitude letter
A gratitude letter is a longer version of a gratitude note. This can be a good thing to write to a parent, spouse, or long-term friend—someone who has been in your life a long while. In your letter, try to think of all the things that make this person great and why you're so grateful that they are in your life. For more help, check out this gratitude letter practice.
3. Gratitude drawings
Not all of us are left brain thinkers. Some of us can better explore and understand what we're grateful for through visuals. If this sounds like you, try making a gratitude drawing in your gratitude journal. You could draw the people you are grateful, the pets, the foods, and anything else you can think of.
4. The gratitude collection
We can also collect things that we're grateful for. Things like photos of loved ones, ticket stubs, and fall leaves can all turn a gratitude journal into a gratitude collection. If you like Pinterest, you can also create a collection of photos and other things you are grateful for there. Then just check it every now and then to remind you of all the good things there are in the world.
Doing gratitude meditations can help shift your focus and boost your positive feelings. Here is one audio gratitude meditation you might like. Doing these meditations and then recording your feelings in your gratitude journal can be a fun way to spice up your gratitude journaling practice. Below are some video gratitude meditations that you can use.
Gratitude Bullet Journals
Video: Self-care & gratitude bullet journal spreads
Video: Making a decorative gratitude log
More Gratitude Practices to Try
Here are some more gratitude practices to try and write about in your journal:
Self-Focused Gratitude vs. Other-Focused Gratitude
We've already talked a bit about how to share gratitude with others, but what about gratitude for ourselves. Sometimes when we have low self-worth, we have little gratitude for the good things about ourselves. That's why focusing some of our gratitude journal on ourselves may be beneficial. If we can be self-compassionate and think of self-focused gratitude--I'm thankful that I am smart and hardworking—we can also use gratitude to boost our self-confidence.
Do you need some inspiration for what to include in your gratitude journal? Here are some images that may help inspire gratitude.
Questions to Ask Yourself in Your Gratitude Journal
Need some questions to help get you thinking about new things to include in your gratitude journal? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
How to Use Your Gratitude Journal to Feel Better About Bad Things
Trying to find the silver linings or the things we are grateful for in difficult situations, it's called reappraisal. This emotion regulation strategy helps you turn your negativity into positivity and turn negative situations into more pleasurable situations. You can try it now by thinking of a slightly negative situation. Then list the things about that situation that you were grateful for—for example, it could have been even worse! If you need more ideas, check out this positive reappraisal activity.
How to Use Your Gratitude Journal to Savor Good Things
Savoring is a strategy that often uses gratitude to amplify and extend positive emotional experiences. You can try out savoring in your gratitude journal by thinking of a recent experience that was good. Take a moment to think about all the positives in that situation and everything you're grateful for that led up to it or made it what it was. This can help you get the most out of the positive emotions you do have.
More Reading on Gratitude
Here are a few more related articles that you may be interested in:
In Sum: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
If you make a commitment to a gratitude journal (even if only for a short time) it can help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude. That's where you don't need to try so hard to feel grateful—you just will. You'll notice more of the good things and feel the gratitude bubbling up on its own.
1. Kini, P., Wong, J., McInnis, S., Gabana, N., & Brown, J. W. (2016). The effects of gratitude expression on neural activity. NeuroImage, 128, 1-10.
2. Flinchbaugh, C. L., Moore, E. W. G., Chang, Y. K., & May, D. R. (2012). Student well-being interventions: The effects of stress management techniques and gratitude journaling in the management education classroom. Journal of Management Education, 36(2), 191-219.
3. Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410.
4. Quoidbach, J., & Dunn., E. W. (2013). Give it up: A strategy for combating hedonic adaptation. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 511-516.
5. Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410.