15 Tips for Creating An Incredible Gratitude Journal
(Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. For more information about this please read the Affiliate Disclosure.)
Last Updated on
The first time I ever heard anything about a gratitude journal was probably on the Oprah Winfrey show at least 20 + years ago.
Now it seems they’re everywhere.
In case you don’t know what a gratitude journal is, it’s simply a journal (in the old days they were called “diaries”) where an individual writes about things for which they are grateful.
But don’t be confused or mistaken. A gratitude journal is more than a mere list of good things.
In addition to recording things/people/events and experiences for which you are grateful, an effective gratitude journal also contains the details of your thoughts, feelings or outcomes associated with the things or experiences for which you are grateful.
So why create a gratitude journal?
The reason for keeping a gratitude journal is that it allows you to focus attention on positive aspects of your life, and to experience thankfulness and appreciation as a result.
(As opposed to getting caught up in or overwhelmed by the incessant onslaught of negativity that permeates so much about our current personal/social/community/societal environments.)
Keeping a gratitude journal can help you to put (or keep) your circumstances in perspective, feel less stressed, lessen or completely eliminate feelings of overwhelm or hopelessness, and foster a sense of hope and well-being regardless of your current situation.
It can also serve as a measure of progress as you move through various stages of a life transition or personal growth and development.
The use of gratitude journals also have additional benefits including physical health and well-being.
“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”
(Source: In Praise of Gratitude, Harvard Health Publishing, Published: November, 2011)
So if you’ve thought about starting a gratitude journal (and obviously you have because you’re reading this), we’ve got some tips to help make your journaling a remarkably useful, deeply meaningful and productive experience.
15 Tips for Creating An Incredible Gratitude Journal
1. Identify what you wish to happen as a result of doing a gratitude journal.
What’s YOUR purpose for this activity? How will keeping this journal help and benefit you? What do you hope to gain as a result? How will your life be different/better?
2. Choose your tools based on your answers to #1 above.
(“Tools” meaning a specific type of journal, writing instruments and/or art supplies, and any accouterments that will help make your journaling experience comfortable and as productive as possible.)
3. Establish a schedule for journaling, including a regular time and place (or space).
This is not meant to be a point of stress (as in “I’m not going to be home tonight by 7pm to write in my gratitude journal!”). Always allow yourself some flexibility because we all know life happens.
The purpose of setting a regular time and place for journaling is to help you to develop a habit of writing in your journal regularly and consistently.
4. Eliminate all distractions and allow yourself to focus only on this task; even if you can only do it for a few minutes.
No cell phone, no texting, no Facebook, no TV.
If there are other people around, close yourself away in a quiet room or space if only for a few moments.
Give yourself this time in a space where you can think clearly and without interruptions.
5. Have prompts or a source of inspiration for your journaling readily available (ties back to #2).
Some days when you sit down to write you may need a bit of help to “prime the pump”.
It doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful or don’t have anything to be grateful for.
It just means that some days you may not so easily recognize what those things are.
6. Related to my last point, when considering what to include in your journal, don’t confine yourself to “big” things.
The “small” things count.
Not only are they important, but often it’s an accumulation of small happenings that precipitate the larger or more significant ones.
Notice your progress and your progression.
7. Train yourself as you go through each day to actively look for things to be grateful for (do this even if you only journal once or twice per week).
You’ll be surprised at how this simple exercise begins to change the dynamic of how you experience each day.
You’ll notice many more things for which to be grateful and the realization of the good things occurring will have a tendency to change your outlook.
8. Related to #7 above, set a target number of things to be grateful for each day.
The purpose of setting a number is not meant to be a source of stress, but instead to simply give you a goal to aim for. That’s all.
9. Let your journal be the place where you can look for (and be grateful for) ways that you can be active and PRESENT in your own life.
Get WOKE and stay woke.
10. Realize that by becoming more aware of things to be grateful for in your life, you send a signal out to the Universe (into the Spiritual realm) that you are a receptor for good; that you desire and are open to good coming into your life.
When you do that, when you place yourself on that “good vibration frequency” there will be a response, a reciprocation, and good will come to you.
11. Take advantage of helpful technology options.
If you feel extremely pressed for time or feel the need for a more convenient way to journal, consider using a gratitude journal app.
There are a number of options available through the Google Play store, many of which are free (and we love free!).
12. Don’t just focus on the “idea” of gratitude and merely “documenting” things you’re grateful for; that make you happy, etc.
Your journal should have a purpose to in some way shape or form help you deepen and enrich your life experience through the act of appreciation and gratitude. A gratitude journal, to be effective and impactful, is a tool, not merely a record. Get it? It should help you to “see” your path of progression.
13. Related to #12 above but different, take the time (and make the effort) to be specific.
Don’t just jot something (generic/meaningless/without substance) down to allow yourself check journaling off of your list of “to dos”.
That’s not to say that you have to write a tome each time you write in your journal, or that some days you can’t have short entries. Every day is different.
But make certain that what you write embodies the substance and meaning of your experience at that specific moment in time.
That way, as you progress through your gratitude journaling process and journey, you’ll be able to see and understand the nuances and steps of your journey.
And that is how you’ll come to better see and understand yourself.
14. Embrace the fact that this is YOUR gratitude journal.
Make it as creative and unique and attractive to you, so that you look forward to your journal experience.
15. Understand that by creating your gratitude journal, you are creating a real, legitimate, authentic and irrefutable body of proof that your life is blessed, and good things, good people and good experiences do indeed happen to you.
For example, if you were to simply list 5 things a day for which you are grateful, and do that for one year, at year’s end you would have documented 1,825 good things that happened to you.
If you keep up that habit, in 5 years you’ll have over 9,100 specific things to be grateful for.
You may think it excessive for you to come up with five things each and every day for which you are grateful. And it may be for you (although I think I could easily do it because I’ve worked at becoming more aware of those things in my life). Don’t sweat it.
If you think of five things a week or even three things a week, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you form a habit of looking for the meaningful people/moments/experiences for which to be grateful and acknowledge them in your life.
So the next time you feel discouraged, disappointed, defeated, unloved or unworthy, you can go to your very own record of evidence, your gratitude journal, and refute any lie of fear or powerlessness, overwhelm or inadequacy or any other negativity that your mind is trying to get you to believe.
You are able to shift and correct your perspective toward a more positive outlook in any and every situation life brings to you.
Do you have a gratitude journal? Let us know in the comments. If you like this post, please share it with your family and friends. Thanks!
Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.