How to Start a Gratitude Journal

I’ve always been a firm believer in practicing gratitude. For years, it’s a habit I developed that’s kept me grounded and resilient. Practicing gratitude is a science, one proven countless times over that makes you feel more alive, have less anxiety, sleep better, and improves your immune system.

This last year, I took it a step further and started gratitude journaling. At first, during my lowest lows of depression I just started to write in a journal. I would pour my heart out, frustrated, confused, and hurt. But with every entry I would be sure to also write what I was grateful for. Maybe it was the years of practicing gratitude that the habit naturally came about in my angry writing.

Eventually, and through a lot of trial and error, I developed four prompts that work for me. Every single morning, after my meditation, I pull out my journal, and answer my four prompts that have helped me improve my life.

How Gratitude Changed My Life

In general, practicing gratitude over the last decade helped me finish school and stay focused on the career path I always wanted. But journaling has been a wonderful tool in helping me beat my depression. The days I don’t do my gratitude journaling (I’m human, sometimes I get lazy!) it shows in my lack of focus and productivity. Gratitude journaling helps me kickstart my day focus forward. I look forward to accomplishing the daily goals I write down and am much more productive!

One of the best benefits has been my complete shift in mindset. I now approach life with an “I get to” mentality instead of an “I have to” mentality. Before I would approach everything as a burden, whereas now I trust my journey and understand ultimately the universe is working in my favor. I also live life through an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity one, and THAT has been the biggest blessing of all! Now, I rarely get phased by the small inconveniences I used to wallow over. This was definitely not an overnight achievement either. If you’re just starting out on your gratitude journey, don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself grace, and thank yourself for showing up. You got this.

How I Gratitude Journal

There is no right or wrong way to do this. This is what works for me, but I hope by sharing it, you also find it helps you. My four morning prompts cover gratitude, affirmations, setting intentions, and manifesting.

Today I am thankful for: (gratitude) Here is where I brain dump everything I am grateful for. Pretty self explanatory. As I’ve grown more in gratitude, so have the things I’m grateful for. Aside from the usual ones (my health, my family’s health, etc.) I also remember to be thankful to myself for showing up.

Today I want to feel: (affirmations) I like to write down three words I want to feel that day (focused, productive, relaxed, accomplished, etc.) and then write out actual affirmations for the day. (I am capable of achieving all I desire. I am stronger than the obstacles before me. The potential in me is limitless, etc.)

Today I will accomplish: (daily intentions) Here is where I actually write out a few tasks for the day I hope to accomplish. They don’t have to be anything big either! Jotting down a few small things and knowing you accomplished them end of the day is a great feeling.

For my future self I will: (manifesting) Finally, I like to write down my big future goals in the last section. I also write out action steps to get there. Maybe my focus that day is financial, so I write out about budgeting and a financial plan. Or maybe my focus of the day is about uplifting my community and growing my business, so I’ll write habits for that. My focus of the day is essentially what is naturally heavy on my heart. There is no right or wrong answer here. Release what feels right to YOU!

Other Ways to Practice Gratitude

Be thankful. Saying thank you in general is a great habit to have. Begin by learning to thank yourself. Thank yourself for showing up, for continuing when times were rough, and for growing. When you thank others, it reminds them they are important and strengthens relationships too.

Mindful reflection. Take time to intentionally reflect on things to be thankful about. Appreciate what’s around you every day… from opening your eyes in the morning to cuddling under a cozy blanket. Soon, it’ll become a habit.

Be intentional. Especially with your time! Your energy is important, don’t waste it on anything that makes you question your energy.

Meditate. Before I gratitude journal, I always meditate first thing in the morning. The benefits of meditating have been said for years! Finding even a few minutes to take in some deep breaths and ground yourself can go a long way in achieving some clarity.

Perform acts of kindness. You lose nothing by giving to others. Acts of kindness doesn’t necessarily mean going out of your way to volunteer or donate to a charity. It could be as simple as holding a door open, refusing to gossip, and in general being polite.