How to Start a Gratitude Journal

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Did you know that simply reflecting on what you’re grateful for can actually lead to a happier, more content life?  All it takes is a few moments of your time and a gratitude journal to record your thoughts.  However, while writing about the big or small things you are thankful for may seem easy, it’s sometimes hard to keep.  Below I have some tips on how to start a gratitude journal that will work for you.

notebook and pen next to text

According to a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the end of each day – and why it made them happy – lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.

Starting and maintaining a Gratitude Journal can be difficult at first, but I promise you it’s worth it. And hopefully, it won’t feel like a chore because it’s a peaceful time to just sit and write about all the things that you are thankful for.  I guarantee the words will flow from you!

How to get started?  I would first suggest to…

Choose a Journal

This should be the first and easiest step.  Do you prefer to write in a physical journal or record your thoughts digitally?  Will you be carrying it around with you or keeping it in one place?  It’s good to identify what works best for you before moving forward.

Set Aside Time for Writing

Don’t add this journal activity to your list of never-ending chores.  Instead, make it second nature.  The easiest way to maintain a gratitude journal is by making it a habit.  Try attaching it to an existing habit, like having your morning coffee or reading before bed, to shift your mindset.  Also, consistency is key.   Get into the routine of writing in your journal on a regular basis and you’ll start to notice the benefits.

Start with Gratitude Journal Prompts

One of the most liberating parts of a gratitude journal is that there are no rules.  It’s for your eyes only so feel free to make it all about your interests.  However, if you need some help getting started, try the following journal prompts to get your gratitude flowing:

  • Look out the window. What’s something that you’re grateful for?
  • List three things that made you smile this week.
  • Pick a random photo and write about why you’re grateful for that memory.
  • Write about something you’re looking forward to.
  • Write a thank-you note to yourself.
  • What is something that makes you unique that you’re grateful for?

Just remember that you can write about anything – no matter how big or small.  And as you become more comfortable, consider getting your spouse and kids involved.  Share the things that you’re grateful for around the dinner table or make it part of your nightly bedtime routine.  It can be a great family time activity and will help hold you accountable.

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