Cultivating a daily gratitude practice is one of the best things you can do for your health. Luckily, starting a gratitude journal is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to build a daily gratitude practice. If you need a little bit of help to get started, no worries – this post has you covered.
How To Start a Gratitude Journal
1 | Gather Your Supplies
All you need is a journal and something to write with. And no, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can totally use one of those 80 cent notebooks and a Bic pen from the stationary aisle at Safeway, as long as they’re materials that feel good to you.
2 | Keep an Open Mind
Gratitude journaling can feel weird if you’re a habitual complainer, just because it requires a different way of looking at the things going on in your life. Keep an open mind to the possibility that things could be good in the future – and that they might even be pretty good right now. You don’t need to be ~sold~ on it just yet, but keep the key under the welcome mat. You know, just in case.
3 | Write (Like No One’s Reading)
Your journal is for you and no one else (seriously). Write as much or as little each day as you want. Spill your guts all over the page or keep it low-key. Be silly or serious. That thing that helps you turn your journal into a fun, effective tool to help you tap into the gratitude habit? Yeah, do that thing – and then do it again tomorrow.
30 Days of Gratitude Journal Prompts
1 | Name someone who has gone out of their way to be kind to you. What did they do?
2 | What happened today that surprised you (in a good way)?
3 | List three songs that make you happy.
4 | What’s something you love that a lot of people don’t?
5 | What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you?
6 | Who is a person that can always make you smile? What do you like about them?
7 | Describe (or draw) your favorite outfit. How do you feel when you wear it?
8 | What is the funniest thing that happened today?
9 | What is something you can do now that you didn’t used to be able to do?
10 | List three movies that you love.
11 | What are five little things that make you happy?
12 | What is the kindest thing someone has ever said to you?
13 | What is your favorite part of your body? Why?
14 | Who is making the world a better place right now?
15 | What is your happiest memory from your childhood?
16 | What is something you learned recently that has helped you in some way?
17 | What are you the most proud of right now?
18 | List three of your favorite books.
19 | Describe your favorite place in the world. How do you feel when you’re there?
20 | What are you naturally good at? How do you use your talents in your everyday life?
21 | What is something positive you’ve experienced in your life that most people haven’t?
22 | List your three favorite smells in the world.
23 | What is something cool that happened today?
24 | Describe a time when someone helped you (just because).
25 | List three TV shows that make you laugh.
26 | Describe your favorite food.
27 | What is your favorite time of day? Why?
28 | What are three things you take for granted that other people would love to have?
29 | What would your perfect day look like? What does that day have in common with today?
30 | What are the top ten things that make you happy to be alive?
How To Balance Your Natural Negativity Bias
The cool thing about keeping a gratitude journal is that it can help retrain your brain to notice the positive things around you every day. Unless you’re a supernaturally upbeat kind of person, this shift toward positivity is pretty important for your mental health and general wellbeing.
Why? Humans have an evolved bias toward negativity. That means we’re more likely to pay attention to and remember negative experiences. (No, it’s not just you). That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Our negativity bias served an evolutionary function – noticing all the things that could – and did – go wrong helped your great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents respond to danger and survive.
So, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of negativity. That being said, you probably don’t want to miss out on the good things going on in your life right now because you were too busy thinking about some BS that happened last week.
Because science is amazing, researchers have actually found the ~ideal~ ratio of negative to positive experiences for the happiest life: 1 to 5. So, you want to aim for 5 times as many positive experiences as negative ones in your life. This absolutely does not mean you need to take, like, 5 vacations for every bad day you have. It actually means that the happy little things in life – the sound of rain falling, iced coffee, clothes warm from the dryer – are, just like grandma said, the things that really matter.
Are we still talking about gratitude journaling?
Yes! Gratitude won’t cancel out the bad stuff going on in your personal life or the world in general right now. But this isn’t about canceling out negativity – it’s about finding balance. Gratitude journaling is one (of many!) tools that can help you tip the scales toward a more positive attitude. And that’s worth being grateful for.