You Need To Start A Gratitude Journal Now (The Science-Backed Proof)

You’ve probably read (or heard) about the good things that come from journaling, but do you know the science behind gratitude journaling, in particular?

Keeping a daily gratitude journal can transform not only your mindset but the direction and impact of your life.

In just a few minutes a day, you can take your morning perspective from blah to breathtaking. That’s the power of writing down your gratitude list as a daily journal entry.

You need that positivity in your life, and it’s yours for the taking. You could be humming and glowing with creative energy even before the caffeine hits your system.

Allow me to elaborate a bit more on thankful journaling.

What is a Gratitude Journal

The whole purpose of keeping a gratitude journal is to practice being more mindful of the good things in your life and to write them down.

Whether you journal for one minute or ten, your main objective for the gratitude diary is to write about the things you’re grateful for.

Gratitude examples could include little things like the way the wind rustles through the leaves in the trees outside your nearest window or the way your dog looks at you when you’re taking some time out to give him a scratch behind the ears — or big things like the safe delivery of a new family member or a great new job.

The important thing is to write it down — not with half your attention as though it were a burdensome obligation but mindfully as a gift to yourself and to everyone around you.

Many gratitude journals help with this by providing inspirational quotes, illustrations, and journaling prompts to trigger memories and get the words flowing from your mind to the page.

When you mindfully express your gratitude in writing – specifically by writing on a physical page — you stimulate your reticular activating system (RAS), focusing your conscious attention on your gratitude — rather than on negative thoughts or worries.

A focus on gratitude in the morning sets a more positive tone and direction for the whole day. It prepares your mind to expect (and notice) more good things – which you can then write about in the next day’s gratitude journal entry.
woman in cafe writing in journal Gratitude Journal

This is a good habit that will repay you many times over for the time you invest in it.

Gratitude Journal Benefits

Take the benefits of daily journaling, add the blessings of gratitude, and ask yourself how your life could improve with the following:

  • Improved mood and mental clarity
  • More energy and enhanced productivity
  • Less anxiety, better sleep, and improved overall health
  • An increased sense of connection and solidarity with others
  • A heightened awareness and enjoyment of the present moment
  • A greater capacity to enjoy and recall sensory details
  • A calmer, more balanced, and more reflective mind

Not to be forgotten, here, is the effect gratitude journaling can have on your own self-esteem.

Too often, we wait for someone else to validate us and tell us we’re making progress or doing important work.

In your gratitude journal, don’t forget to write about the things you like about yourself and what you’ve accomplished in your life.

Gratitude Journal Ideas

If you prefer to write by hand or you’d like to add the brain-friendly benefits of handwriting to your daily gratitude habit, there are several great options available.

We’ve listed six of our favorites further on in this article. If you’re a bullet journal fan, you can add your grateful thoughts to your daily pages and reinforce them by also logging weekly and monthly gratitude highlights.

You could also create a daily “Mindful Morning” page on a Google doc, with headings for “Today, I’m grateful for…” as well as your intentions for the day, a daily list or two (top five things to focus on, the top three things on your mind, etc.), and even a mind movie or notes from something you’ll read or watch today.

If it’s more convenient for you to open an app on your phone or tablet and tap out your daily thank you’s, we’ve listed some gratitude journal apps for you to consider, too.

Daily Habit of Gratitude Journaling

However, you prefer to keep a gratitude journal — with a written or digital journal — the important thing is to create the habit by consistently taking the time each day to write down a list of your grateful thoughts.journaling habit list infographic journaling Ideas

Here are some ideas to help you establish and keep the habit:

  • Set a daily reminder or alarm for yourself for your gratitude journaling time.
  • Set a timer for one to ten minutes for writing in your gratitude journal.
  • Keep the gratitude journal in a convenient and visible location, so you won’t forget.
  • Invest in a journal you’ll find easy and enjoyable to use every day.
  • Find an accountability partner for your gratitude journaling, so you can remind each other.

19 Gratitude Journal Prompts

If you’re wondering what to write about, try any of the following gratitude journal prompts. At some point, you may find it easier to create a list of your own favorites and keep it handy.

1. Who was the last person to whom you said, “Thank you” with genuine gratitude?

2. What was the last thing you tasted that made you slow down and savor it?

3. What was the last book you read that made you grateful to whomever (or whatever) motivated you to read it?

4. When was the last time you saw or heard something in nature that made you feel calmer and more grateful?

Related: 37 Quotes On Gratitude To Shower People With Love

5. What technology can you think of that has allowed you to do something you couldn’t have done twenty years ago?

6. What was the last conversation you had that made you more grateful for your conversation partner and for the power of a good relationship?

7. What helps you get up in the morning, get your head right, and get things done?

8. Where do you get the food that sustains you and others in your household?

9. What do you love about mornings or getting up early?

10. What do you love about nighttime or staying up late?

11. When was the last time you had a truly memorable meal with good company?

12. What do you love about your married or single state — and about your closest relationship?

13. What do you love most about journaling or about writing in general?

14. What abilities or skills do you have that you’re grateful for?

15. What progress have you made this year (or last) toward your goals?

16. Write about someone you know whom you find hard to be around — and focus on something you’re grateful for about this person.

17. When was the last time you took the time to enjoy beautiful music or art?

18. What have you learned recently that has made you grateful?
journal and coffee mug on table Gratitude Journal

19. Write a thank you letter to someone.

25 Gratitude Affirmations

You can add any of these to your gratitude journal as prompts or as affirmations to repeat on a daily or weekly basis.

1. I’m so grateful to be alive for another morning. Every breath I take is a gift.

Related: 41 Of The Best Journaling Ideas To De-Stress And Feel Happy

2. I’m so grateful for the people in my life, and I believe we’re in each other’s lives for a reason. Every interaction matters.couple hugging gratitude journal

3. I’m so grateful to know that I’m connected to every living thing in this universe and that not one of us is insignificant.

4. I’m so grateful for the gift of writing. Every time I write in my gratitude journal, I make an investment not only in my own well-being but in that of every person who interacts with me today.

5. I’m so grateful for all the natural beauty I’ll see today — and for every chance I get to savor it.

6. I’m grateful for good smells coming from the kitchen and for the way my first (and every) cup of coffee (or tea) warms me as it travels down to my stomach.

7. I’m grateful for music that helps me focus on my work.

Related: Journal Your Way to More Love and Intimacy

8. I’m grateful for the vehicles and other modes of transportation we have for getting to where we need to go and back home safely.

9. I’m so grateful to get paid for work I love to do — and that I work for (and with) good people.

10. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned to do well that used to scare me.

11. I’m grateful that I’ve learned to swap out old, limiting beliefs for those that help me become the person I want to be.

12. I’m grateful for every dollar I can tithe to a charity or initiative that does work worth supporting.

13. I’m grateful for everything I can do that puts a smile on the face of one of my children (or on all their faces) or on the face of another child.

14. I’m grateful for every genuine smile I give or receive today.couple sitting gratitude journal

15. I’m grateful for everything that anyone in my household does to make life a little easier for everyone else.

16. I’m grateful for the smell of freshly washed and dried laundry — and the warmth of it when I pull it from the dryer.

17. I’m grateful for the fresh flowers in my home, for their beauty and fragrance, and for the reminder of growth and renewal during the darker and colder months of the year.

18. I’m grateful for the people in my support network — family and friends — who help and challenge me to take daily action toward my goals and to act like the person I want to be.

19. I’m so grateful for the power of forgiveness and compassion in my life and in the lives of those close to me.

20. I’m so grateful that work doesn’t have to be a drudgery and that my happiness is up to me and no one else.

21. I’m grateful for this present moment and for my ability to consciously enjoy all the good in it.

22. I’m so grateful for curious and creative minds — my own and those of others to whom I’m connected in some way.

23. I’m grateful for my ability to summon the creative energy I need when I need it.

24. I’m grateful for everything I can see, hear, and feel from my workspace that makes me smile.
person writing in journal Gratitude Journal

25. I’m grateful for the relationships formed over the years and for what I’ve learned from them.

5 Best Gratitude Journals

All five of the following options are available only in print (hardcover or paperback), allowing you to also reap the cognitive benefits of writing in a physical journal.

1. Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day by Intelligent Change

This hardcover journal has 268 pages with a layout that includes questions and prompts to make it even easier to keep a brief daily record of your grateful thoughts.

Each day’s page has space for morning reflections and an evening assessment of your day. At 5.3” by 8.3”, it’s also small enough to carry with you in your purse or laptop bag.

2. Gratitude: A Journal by Catherine Price

This gratitude journal is a bit smaller than the previous one (5” by 6.5”) and has inspirational quotes as well as thoughtful prompts to get you started with your daily entry.

With 388 pages between an attractive cover, it also has a ribbon marker to help you keep your place in the journal as you fill it.

3. The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan

This option has space for recording one minute’s worth of grateful reflections every day. Beautifully illustrated, the pages of this 6” by 9” paperback journal also contain quotes to inspire you as you make your daily entry.

Because the daily writing commitment is so small, this journal makes a great gift for those who would benefit from a daily gratitude journaling habit but who don’t want to spend more than a minute writing.

4. The 90-Day Gratitude Journal by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport

How much could a daily commitment to gratitude journaling change your life in 90 days?

This book gives you three questions to answer every day, which won’t take more than ten minutes of your time.

Related: 101 Of The Best Appreciation Messages To Show Your Gratitude

Before the first month is up, you’ll have a new habit that renews your purpose and creative energy every day. And when you’ve filled this book, you’ll have a written record of your personal progress over those 90 days.

At 6” by 9” and with 121 pages, you’ll want to take it everywhere you go (even if you’ve already made your daily entries) to remind yourself of the new, exciting direction your life is taking.

5. Tiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal by Lori Deschene

This flexibound (hardcover) journal with 160 pages also uses questions and prompts to help you keep your daily commitment to gratitude journaling.

This option also has fifteen coloring pages with space for written reflection on the objects depicted.

Besides adding variety to your gratitude journaling, the images remind you to be grateful for the many ordinary and often overlooked blessings in your life.

5 Gratitude Journal Apps

All the apps listed here are available in the app store for your iOS device.

1. Grateful: A Gratitude Journal

This app allows you to set reminders with a snooze option, so you won’t forget. Plus, something about the fonts and color choices makes this journal app as appealing as it is simple and uncluttered.

The free version allows you to save up to 15 gratitude journal entries, while the paid version sets no limit. The one-time upgrade ($3.99) allows you to not only add your own writing prompts but to back up your journal entries on Dropbox and add a password to protect your privacy.

2. 365 Gratitude: Diary, Journal by Grateful Community

One of the most appealing features with this iOS app is its community of grateful members, whose shared thoughts appear in a steady gratitude feed.

Other than this, the app prompts you with daily questions and an inspirational quote to get you started. It also includes “mood tracking” (with emojis), self-assessment tools, reminders, and the option of setting a 4-digit passcode for privacy.

Related: 101 Positive Affirmations

This journal also syncs with Google Drive to save your data. Full membership costs $2.99 a month or $23.49 annually.

3. Gratitude Journal 365: Diary for Your Happiness

The lite version of this app is free for the first seven days, at which point you can either upgrade to the full app or try a different one.

At $1.99, this is the least expensive of all the fully-featured apps and even allows you to take pictures to go with your grateful thoughts.

It then displays those images on a gratitude calendar for each completed month. You can even share the calendar on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) or email it to someone.

4. Happyfeed Gratitude Journal

This digital gratitude journal asks you to log three daily gratitude statements (you can add more with the Plus package) and gives you the option of setting a daily reminder.

The Plus package allows you to use the app offline — which is handy if you have limited data and secure WiFi is out of reach. Once you’re back in safe WiFi land, your app will sync automatically.

5.Gratitude Reminders for Optimism and Happiness

If you’d prefer an app that simply reminds you of your commitment to daily gratitude journaling — with a mantra of your choosing and if you like, a picture — this is the one to get.

Upgrade to the $4.99 package to set unlimited mantras and even add your own mantras and pictures. You can set up to 9 reminders a day, within the hours you set.

Use the mantras and pictures to renew your purpose and commitment to gratitude throughout the day.

Be a Catalyst for Gratitude

I hope this article has made your day a little better. If reading it has lit a fire in you to start (or renew your commitment to) gratitude journaling, may it also flood your mind with gorgeous ideas for your gratitude log.

Once you get started, it gets easier to find and relish new gratitude journal ideas.

Maybe you’re already asking yourself, “What would the world be like if everyone committed to gratitude journaling?” You could also ask, “How many more people could I motivate to get started with this?”

So, if you’ve found value in this article, please share it and encourage others to pass it on. Once you’ve had a taste of what gratitude journaling can do for you, you’ll no doubt want others to experience the same benefits as soon as possible — just as we do.

May your gratitude infuse everything else you do today.

Barrie Davenport

Barrie is a certified life coach and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She has been a featured writer for The Huffington Post, Maria Shriver, and Zen Habits. She is the creator of six popular self-improvement courses. She writes books on relationship skills, emotional abuse, mindfulness, and more.

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