My Morning Ritual– After meditating for 10 minutes, the next thing I do is write in my Gratitude Journal. I focus on my gratitude for the simpler things in my life; i.e.; the wind in my hair, warm socks, and my child’s laughter. With gratitude, I have no room for discontentment. Focusing on the positive helps me start my day ahead with happiness and joy.

Why Write a Gratitude Journal

Writing in a Gratitude Journal (PsychologyToday April 2015) can transform your life in these ways:

1. It Increases Positivity

By writing down what you are thankful for, it can make you more optimistic because you are choosing to see more of the positivity in your life, giving less power to negative emotions. While these positive aspects of your life may be floating around in your subconscious, writing them down makes them more concrete and real.

2. It Improves Self-Esteem

Keeping a journal is a very personal activity and allows you to be present with your own achievements. Showing gratitude has been proven to reduce social comparisons, and by expressing what you are thankful for, you are less likely to be resentful towards others.

3. It Helps You Sleep Better

Spending just 15 minutes before bed writing down a few grateful sentiments can help you have a much better night’s sleep. By thinking of the positive experiences of the day or reminding yourself of what you have to be thankful for, you are much less likely to ponder over your worries and therefore clear your mind for a good night’s sleep.

4. It Makes You Happier

Showing gratitude means you are acknowledging the goodness in your life. By writing these things down, you are able to feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, and build strong relationships–a recipe for a much happier life! Researchers have found that people who write about gratitude are more optimistic and feel better about their lives in general.

5. It Reduces Stress

Grateful people take better care of themselves. They live healthier lives and are therefore able to manage stress in a healthier way. Scientists have found that focusing on feelings of contentment and satisfaction naturally counters stress, and leaves you feeling much more grounded and able to deal with whatever life throws at you.

What to Write in Your Gratitude Journal

If you’re new to gratitude journaling, it can feel daunting to look at a blank page. Try writing about these simple prompts to get the gratitude flowing. (Shutterfly, April 2019)

  • Write about a time you were grateful for something a loved one did for you.
  • List three silly things your kids did today.
  • What are three ways to thank someone without saying “thank you”?
  • What is something that makes you unique that you’re grateful for?
  • Look out the window, what’s something you’re grateful for outside?
  • Think about the work that went into the clothes you wear or the house you live in.
  • If you had to give up all of your possessions but three, which three would you keep and why?
  • Write a thank-you note to yourself.
  • Pick a random photo, and write about why you’re grateful for that memory.
  • Write about something you’re looking forward to.
  • Write about something in your life that you have now that you didn’t have a year ago.
  • Reflect on a time you made a mistake and what you learned. What are you grateful for about that learning experience?
  • Write about why you’re grateful for your house
  • Think back to the last time you laughed until you cried, and write about it.
  • List three things that made you smile this week.
  • Think about someone who helped shape the person you are today and write about what they mean to you.
  • Think about a time you were able to help someone else.
  • List three people who helped you through a tough situation.
  • Name someone who did something nice for you unprompted.

Even after you’ve been successfully journaling for a while, it can be challenging to think of new things to write about. If you’ve already written about a certain topic, think of a new angle.

For example, if you’ve already written about why you’re grateful for your spouse, try viewing them from someone else’s perspective. You may find new things to write about like “I’m grateful for the way they treat others.”

Just remember that you can write about anything, no matter how big or small. If you’re still at a loss, here are some unexpected gratitude journal ideas to help you get over that case of writer’s block.

People to write about:

  • A person you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Someone who lives far away
  • Your kid’s teachers
  • Your coworkers
  • Someone you have a hard time getting along with
  • A musician, author or artist whose work particularly inspires you
  • A stranger who brightened your day

Things to write about:

  • Your morning coffee
  • Your favorite food
  • Things you use daily
  • Your job
  • Activities or hobbies you enjoy
  • Your body
  • Your sense of smell, sight, taste etc.

Places to write about:

  • The city you live in
  • Your favorite vacation destination
  • Your desk at work
  • Your bed
  • Your neighborhood park
  • Your hometown
  • Your favorite store

Ideas to write about:

  • A family tradition
  • A silly moment
  • A struggle you’re facing
  • A recent change in your life
  • A recent accomplishment
  • The current season
  • Something new you learned recently

Check in With Yourself Regularly

Just like it’s important to know why you’re starting a new habit, it’s also a good practice to check in with yourself every once in a while. Are you feeling any different after one week? One month? One year?

Think about how your happiness has improved over time. Maybe your interactions with others have improved or your self-talk has become more positive. If you ever need a pick me up, go back and revisit old pages to see how far you’ve come.

The positive effects are endless, now it’s time to find out for yourself!