It’s no secret that people who have a gratitude attitude tend to be healthier, have better relationships, and have a more positive outlook on life. Expressing gratitude, either to another person or in a private gratitude journal, can brighten your day and help you find peace and calm when you’re stressed.
Even knowing this, most people still find it easier to count their troubles than their blessings. We’re only human, after all. This is why gratitude journals have gotten so popular. By writing down what we’re thankful for, we can start to change our mindset and default to gratitude more often.
“Just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.” – Irving Berlin
There are many ways to keep a gratitude journal, even if journaling isn’t really your thing. The important part is taking a moment to reflect on what you’re thankful for, and then to document it. Try some of the journaling ideas below and see which one sticks!
Gratitude Bullet Journal
A bullet journal is essentially a short-hand journal in day-planner format. Many people use bullet journals to plan out their to-do lists, jot down thoughts they’ve had throughout the day, track meals and exercise—anything that is useful to the individual. Bullet journals help you capture quick snippets from your day, and you don’t even need to write in full sentences!
If this type of journaling appeals to you, dedicate some space in your bullet journal to marking what you are thankful for each day. Try using a different color of pen or pencil to make these entries stand out more.
Gratitude Vision Board
If you’re more of a visual person, you might enjoy having a gratitude vision board. Put the board up anywhere in your home—preferably somewhere you’ll see it often—and start adding items that represent what you’re grateful for. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pictures of friends, family, pets, and places you’ve visited
Menus from your favorite restaurants, ticket stubs, receipts for significant purchases
Small items that can be hung up, like jewelry, keys, dried plants—anything that represents something important to you
Notes you’ve received from loved ones and coworkers
Snippets from news articles that made you smile or gave you hope
And of course, you can always write down a few words on a piece of paper to add to your gratitude board as needed. Exercise those creative muscles and make your board something you’ll enjoy looking at every day.
Since space is limited using this journaling technique, it’s not necessary to add something new every day. As long as you see it every day, it will serve its purpose. Try changing things up every few months to keep your board fresh and interesting.
If you prefer something quick and simple, a gratitude jar is a great choice. All you need is an empty jar, small pieces of paper, and something to write with. Whenever you think of something you’re thankful for, write it down and put it in the jar.
A gratitude jar is a great way to get the whole family involved, as well. Encourage your family members to add something they’re grateful for each day—either anonymously or with their names included—and watch the jar fill up. Any time you need a pick-me-up, all you’ll need to do is pick a few papers from the jar to read.
Of course there’s always a digital option! There are a lot of gratitude apps out there that not only allow you to document what you’re grateful for, but that also help you remember to take a moment to reflect, provide gratitude prompts, help you track your goals, and more. An app can help personalize your gratitude journey, giving you more flexibility to document what you’re thankful for in the way that works best for you.
3 Tips for Establishing an Attitude of Gratitude
Keeping a record of what you’re grateful for is an important part of living a happy, healthy life. The pointers below will help you as you establish a habit of being grateful.
Be consistent. Find something to be grateful for every day, even on the bad days. Especially on the bad days. Some people find it helpful to dedicate a specific time of day to reflect on what they’re grateful for. Often this is at the end of the day, but gratitude can be a great way to start your day, too!
Use gratitude prompts. If you find yourself listing the same things over and over again, try some gratitude prompts to help you think outside the box. There is nothing wrong with being grateful for the same things day in and day out—we encourage it, even!—but finding things to be grateful for outside of the obvious answers can help you find blessings in places you didn’t expect, and can make your daily gratitude reflections more meaningful.
Revisit past experiences. One of the best things about keeping a gratitude journal is that you can go back and review it at any time. Being reminded of things you were grateful for in the past can be just as powerful as expressing gratitude in the present. When these experiences are recorded in some way, your past self can help your current self see things in a new light.
Of all the habits to develop, gratitude is one of the easiest and most beneficial. It doesn’t take a lot of time, it usually doesn’t require a lot of effort, and—here’s the best part—the rewards are far greater than the work you put in developing the habit. Start jotting down the things you’re grateful for today, and, while you’re at it, tell someone special in your life thank you.