How to Start a Gratitude Journal

Kendra Thornburgh-Mueller ‘20, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Countless studies and my own experience have proven that appreciation increases calmness, clarity, and contentment in daily life and over time. The perfect way to put more focus on what you are thankful for is through a gratitude journal.  

Everyone’s experience with gratitude journaling will be different, but there are some basic guidelines that can help anyone wanting to start or continue a journal. The first, and most obvious, step is to find an empty journal and devote it solely to writing about gratitude. Once you have a place to write, think about how you would like to format your journal. Some may write quotes about gratitude, some may follow specific prompts, and others may write daily lists. Try out different methods until you find what you like the most. Remember, you do not want this journal to feel like a chore, as it is meant to bring you more joy. 

This bullet journal provides an example of the listing style of gratitude journal. Each day in the month, the journaler wrote down two things he or she was grateful for.

A common problem with journaling is the tendency to begin the journal but gradually stop, even if you wanted to continue it. The easiest way to combat this tendency is to make your gratitude journal a part of your daily routine. Just like you brush your teeth, you want to set aside a few minutes a day to journal, so that you can maintain this healthy habit and see its prolonged effects. 

Sometimes, especially at the beginning of the process, it is hard to think of something you were grateful for immediately, but following prompts can make the process seem a lot easier and more enjoyable. This is a long list of possible prompts you could follow.

You may now be wondering if setting up this routine is really worth it. In my experience, it is. My style of journaling is, before I go to sleep, to write down three things that I am thankful for that happened that day. I try to make each item on the list as specific as possible, which makes my journal seem not only like one for gratitude, but one for documenting the good parts of my life.

Gratitude journaling will not make all your problems go away, and you will still feel stressed or have bad days, but it can put daily events into perspective and make you see that there are some wonderful parts of your life.