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You know about the benefits of having a gratitude journal.
But are you stuck on the first page, not knowing what to write?
How do you start?
In the beginning, when you are not used to giving thanks to the things around you, you will find it difficult to find things to be grateful for. But once you gain momentum and make it a daily habit, it will be much easier.
To help you get started and give you some ideas, here are some tips on how to start and keep a gratitude journal and 31 gratitude journal prompts. You can use one prompt each day for a whole month to help you get into the habit of writing your gratitude journal.
7 Tips on How to Start and Keep a Gratitude Journal
1. Write anything you are grateful for.
No matter how insignificant the things you are grateful for are, it doesn’t matter. Just write them down. Like creative ideas, don’t censor them. The gratitude journal is personal. You don’t have to show it to anyone else. It doesn’t matter if the entry is:
- deep or superficial,
- specific or general,
- long or short.
As long you get the gratitude feeling going, it’s okay. Just start. Your gratitude journal would evolve along the way.
2. Schedule a time.
Scheduling a time to write your journal consistently will make it a habit. I schedule mine at the start of the day because I’ll remember to do it. You can schedule it before you go to bed or another time during the day. It’s fine.
The frequency is your choice too. You can write twice a day, once a day, once a week, or any amount you like. Just keep it consistent. I choose daily because it’s really simple to do and doesn’t take much of my time. It just takes me 5 to 15 minutes each session. Some people prefer to do it weekly because they don’t want to prevent gratitude burnout.
3. Set a minimum.
I write at least three things I’m grateful for each day. You can write as many as you want. But I like to keep it consistent and have a minimum. Sometimes, I do write more than three things, but I don’t stop writing until I have three.
Having a minimum helps you to practice gratitude.
Some people suggest not to have a minimum so that you don’t go through the motion. But I find that having a minimum helps you to find things which you are thankful for, especially those things that you normally take for granted. Your gratitude muscle is the same as your creative muscle. You need to exercise the muscle regularly to make it stronger.
4. Have fun with it.
Even though it’s good to keep your gratitude journal activity a habit, don’t treat it like a chore. Have fun with it. Use your five senses to discover the things you are grateful for.
Explore nature to help you generate ideas.
And you can focus on different areas of your life each time. You can create a theme for each day. For example, Monday could be for the things you have. Tuesday could be people you are thankful for. Wednesday could be things you are grateful for at work, and so on.
5. Don’t beat yourself up.
Like any habits you have developed, there will be off days when you don’t perform as well as you wish to. You might miss a session or two due to your busy work schedule. You might have nothing to write, so you write the same things which you have written yesterday. Whatever the case is, don’t beat yourself up.
Realize it’s okay.
When you lost your writing momentum, clear whatever challenges you have in life first, then come back to your gratitude journal again. It’s good to be consistent, but you want to do it willingly and with good feelings.
Also, repeating entries are okay. Who says you can’t be grateful for the same thing multiple times? Over the year, I have been grateful for inner peace and harmony. That’s really important to me, so it appears in my journal many times.
6. If you don’t like to write in a journal, try other forms.
I love writing using pen and paper, so that’s the form I use. If you prefer to type it on the computer or an app, do it. You can even have a gratitude jar. Write your gratitude in a small piece of paper and put it in a clear jar or piggy bank. It looks great when it gets filled up.
You can write in letter format, addressing people you are grateful for. I do it in a journal instead.
Use your strengths.
Some people communicate best in auditory. You can record your gratitude journal by speaking it aloud and review it in the future by playing back your audio. If you are grateful for someone or what they have done, you can tell the person directly too.
It’s your personal diary. You decide what to do with it. You can even draw your gratitude out and color them if you are artistic.
7. Most importantly, really feel what you are grateful for.
Even though it’s good to keep your gratitude journal activity as a habit, don’t treat it like a chore. It’s really important to feel what you are grateful for. Don’t write something down that you aren’t genuinely grateful for. Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose of having a gratitude journal.
Find a quiet space and time to reflect.
Really stop what you are doing and appreciate the things around you. Don’t get distracted by the other things you have to do.
Need Ideas for Your Gratitude Journal?
Below are 31 gratitude journal prompts and questions to get you started. But before you go through the list, the prompts and questions are organized in by specific categories, you can zoom in to the specific category that most resonate with you.
The categories for the gratitude journal prompts are as follow, ideas related to:
- People (Question 1 to 6),
- Tangible things and the environment (Question 7 to 13),
- Self-improvement (Question 14 to 20),
- Work (Question 21 to 24),
- Life (Question 25 to 31).
Here Are the 31 Gratitude Journal Prompts:
1. Who are you grateful for in your life?
2. Who has helped you recently?
3. How did they help you?
4. What kind of gestures have you received recently? (For example, someone opens the door for you.)
5. Is there anyone you have met recently and enjoyed their company?
6. Who inspires you? (Perhaps someone who inspires you to do what you do.)
7. Use your five senses. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste that you feel grateful for?
8. What things do your country, city or neighborhood possessed that you are grateful for?
9. List three material things that you currently have that you are thankful for.
10. What things have you received or given for free which you have taken for granted? (For example, the attention someone gives you.)
11. Are there things which you have right now but don’t have 10 years ago?
12. Can you be grateful for having money to buy the things that you desire?
13. What things do you use daily that you can be more appreciative towards?
14. How are you different today than a few years ago? Can you be grateful for the changes?
15. What experiences do you have that you are grateful for?
16. What strengths are you grateful to have?
17. Are there any skills and abilities that you are thankful to have? (For example, analytical, problem-solving skills.)
18. What have you learned or what information have you received that you are grateful for?
19. How do your friends and family help you to become a better person?
20. What states of emotions are you in right now? Can you be grateful for that? (You can be grateful for the lessons behind negative emotions too.)
21. What do you love about your job?
22. List down anything that you are grateful for in your job? (Maybe nice colleagues and bosses.)
23. What would happen when you lose this job? Can you be grateful to have a job?
24. How have challenges at work helped you become better at what you do?
25. Think about life. What has it given you that you have taken granted for?
26. What are the basic needs that keep you alive? (Water, sunlight, and air.)
27. Is there anything in nature that keeps you in awe or you find beautiful? (For example, rain, birds chirping, butterflies.)
28. How about the time and freedom to do what you love and be yourself?
29. Are you grateful to be alive?
30. List down any of your body parts that you are thankful for. (Perhaps you are grateful for your eyes for functioning properly.)
31. Can you be grateful for something in nature just by giving it your attention and seeing its beauty?
Above are 31 gratitude journal prompts, one for each day, to get you thinking. If you need more ideas. Check out the 100 things I’m grateful for over the past year. You can use it as a reference.
Featured Photo Credit: 071. Imperfections / Michael Coppola