Are you thinking about venturing into the world of journaling but don’t know where to start? In this article, I share with you tips on how to start a gratitude journal without losing steam in a week.
Do you want to cultivate and attract positive emotions?
Are you looking to improve your mental health and look beyond challenging situations?
Starting a gratitude journal may be used to ward off negative emotions and lead a more deliberate existence.
When you start a gratitude journal, you’re not looking to fill idle time. There’s something to derive from this wonderful, therapeutic endeavor.
Why Start a Gratitude Journal?
Have you discerned an unhealthy pattern of thinking that needs eviction? Did a good friend or associate recommend that you start a gratitude journal?
From where did your motivation or newfound interest stem?
Are you trying to open your mind to positive thinking? Do you grapple with a mental health disorder like depression and want to change your paradigm or how you think?
Perhaps you want to exercise greater control over the things you remember. Either way, determine why you want to start a gratitude journal.
When you know what you’re working to achieve, it bolsters commitment and sweetens labor. Also, you’re able to identify changes in your thinking and attitude.
With that said, ask yourself these questions before starting a gratitude journal!
- Is a gratitude journal the best option for me?
- Will I be able to commit to a gratitude journal?
- What do I want to accomplish from starting a gratitude journal?
How to Start a Gratitude Journal?
You did your homework, and you’re positive that a gratitude journal is for you.
How do you go about starting the actual journal?
1. Select a Journal of Choice
There is no appropriate or ideal journal to start with. This is a matter of preference and what you have available. It’s also dependent on what you’re willing to invest.
Are you comfortable using a simple, regular notebook to house your thoughts? You don’t need a fancy journal to kick things off. However, you’re discouraged from using loose pages or notepads that come loose easily.
This method of gratitude journaling is messy.
It’s easy to misplace pages and, worst-case scenario, your pet might punch holes into it. Whatever you get, it should be solid and enclosed.
If you prefer to sweeten your gratitude journaling habit, a regular journal may be off-putting.
Do you prefer to have a guided gratitude journal, perhaps with prompts to get you thinking about what you need to write? Do you love to write amidst beautiful colors with inspirational quotes on both sides?
You will have to invest in buying a solid gratitude journal or snag and print out a template online. You can easily get these pages bound to keep things organized and in one place.
Just to keep things simple for you, these are the types of gratitude journals you have at your disposal.
- A blank notebook or bullet journal
- A simple gratitude journal
- Guided gratitude journals with prompts and questions already assembled.
- Personal/customized journals (you will have to design the interior and exterior of your journal to suit your taste).
- Guided gratitude journal templates that require printing and assembling.
- Gratitude journal apps.
How to Start a Gratitude Journal – Success Tip #1: In my experience, an empty notebook isn’t encouraging. If you’re easily distracted, hate the idea of committing time to make daily entries, and lose interest quickly, get a guided gratitude journal with fancy colors. This will cost you more, but it’s worth the investment. You’ll be excited to write every day, instead of gazing at uninteresting and dull pages.
2. Decipher What to Add to Your Journal
Most people retire their gratitude journal before a week ends. This is largely due to a lack of motivation, while others find it difficult to conjure up ideas.
That’s natural and understandable.
After a few days of journaling, I got tired of rehashing how grateful I was to have a roof above my head and food to eat. This is the most common problem people face when they start a gratitude journal.
Perhaps you can’t see or don’t think you’ve experienced enough positive things to add to your journal.
Having to express gratitude for food and clean water each day is painfully boring and perfunctory (at least that’s how you feel. Many people find this to be a luxury). Many first-time gratitude journalists feel that way, and that’s likely your story.
A common (and cliched) question asked for each journal entry is: “What am I grateful for today?” This question doesn’t achieve much, as it directs back to the same answer…
I am grateful for food…
I am grateful for water…
I am grateful for…?
Instead of running with the mass and rehash the same questions, consider asking the following:
- Did I encourage someone today? (Write down what you did. This is positive stuff.)
- What are some things I achieved today? (Accomplishments boost positivity.)
- Did I smile today? (Yes, something positive had to have happened to turn your frown up.)
- Did you observe nature today? (Talk about what you saw in nature and how they made you feel. If you were attacked by a raging wasp, you’re alive to read this article, right? That’s a positive!)
- Did you develop a new skill or read information on how to improve your life?
- Did you give someone money?
- Did someone express appreciation for you and what you’ve done for them?
- Did someone compliment you?
- Did you achieve the work you set out to do?
- Did you watch a movie you love?
- Were you finally able to afford something you’ve always wanted?
The list is endless.
A gratitude journal forces you to be creative and spontaneous. Once you stick with it, things will get better. That’s a promise!
How to Start a Gratitude Journal – Success Tip #2: Are you struggling to add positive entries to your journal? Working with gratitude journal prompts or guided journals may spice things up for you. These journals of thanksgiving are customized with statements and questions you can simply follow. It makes the process of journaling easier and gets your brain ticking.
3. Choose an Ideal Time to Write
After settling with a gratitude journal, it’s time to start the courtship process. A gratitude journal is useful and effective, only when used.
You will need to set aside time for meaningful entries. That begs the question: “When are you most productive?” Would you have enough time to dedicate to journaling at the office, lunch, or home?
Are you distracted or irritated in public or do you know how to drown out the noise? Choose a time and location to write that’s conducive. An ideal time and location will differ for different people. This is because there’s no similar situation.
Whatever occasion and time are chosen, you should feel encouraged and motivated to write and reflect on what’s written.
How to Start a Gratitude Journal – Success Tip #3: Make entries in your gratitude journal at the end of the day. This is after you’ve closed out the day’s affairs and are relaxing. The bedroom is a great place to start, and there’s always the option to keep your gratitude journal close by on a bedside table or nightstand. You can easily lean over and grab it.
4. Write About the “Why” Behind the Entry
Don’t just add an entry to your journal and run. A gratitude journal is a means of discovery. If you merely stamp entries, what will you accomplish?
For each day, list 3 things you’re grateful for.
This isn’t a rigid rule that has to be followed. If inclined, list up to 10 items. It’s up to you. While you list 3 things you’re grateful for, focus on highlighting the “why” behind each entry.
Your “why” is the reason behind the entry. If you’re unsure of what this looks like, I’ve left an example down below.
Gratitude entry #1: I’m grateful that I was able to assist Sheila today with her kids while she went to take care of business.
Why are you grateful? Sheila looked like she needed a break. She has been stressed of late, so watching her kids while she ran errands gave her a bit of room to breathe. Plus, she was able to save a bit of cash, instead of paying for a sitter. She also expressed how much that act meant to her. I’m happy that I made a difference.
When you add “why” to each entry, you take your gratitude journaling to another level. You attract positive thoughts and build courage and motivation. You’ll also find greater meaning and purpose, especially if you’re detailed in your “why” responses to each entry.
How to Start a Gratitude Journal – Success Tip #4: List only 3 things you’re grateful for daily. You can list more, but if you find that you’re putting forth too much effort to come up with ideas, run with 3. If adding journal entries feel difficult, you may be tempted to give up.
For each entry, give a brief explanation of why you want to express appreciation. This activity will help you put things in perspective and find even greater joy.
5. Meditate on Each Entry and Your ‘Why”
When you give of your time and effort to others, you’re also giving to yourself. Your journal entries shouldn’t always be about the direct impact something has on you.
The example above with Sheila is a perfect case to consider. Sheila was the direct recipient of your action, but how did you feel after helping Sheila?
That’s the power of a gratitude journal.
You get to live each moment with meaning and purpose, because you’re able to reflect on your actions. When you realize how positive giving makes you feel, you’re impelled to duplicate the act and help on an even greater level.
When you meditate on an entry such as the one explained with Sheila, you realize that you can do much good when you help others.
How to Start a Gratitude Journal – Success Tip #5: Avoid creating a “shallow” gratitude journal. While you’re not discouraged to add entries such as “I was given money today” or “I bought a new outfit,” look beyond the basics. Look at more positive, profound, and even subtle benefits you may not have easily noticed. The situation with Sheila was a subtle, yet profound benefit. This is the case since you could have refused to see the positive (how you made Sheila feel) and focus on your own emotions. Maybe you didn’t want to watch her kids but felt “forced” to. Maybe you had to give up a social function just to help Sheila out. If you concentrated on your own emotions, this positive situation could have turned negative. But, when you look at how Sheila benefited, that’s where your gratitude shines. The point is, look out for those indirect positives.
6. Be Committed
If you don’t commit to journaling every day, you prepare to fail. How well you commit to this new venture is dependent on how well you heed the suggestions above.
To commit to journaling each day, it’s important that you
- know how you stand to benefit.
- choose a gratitude journal that’s appealing, specifically one that suits you.
- follow the suggestions about what you can add to your journal.
- choose an ideal time to add entries to your journal.
- always explain (or mention) why you’re grateful.
- meditate on each entry made and absorb everything.
Most importantly, always add an entry each day.
Remember, there is no hard and fast rule to follow when starting a gratitude journal. Sometimes you must tap into your rhythm and comfort zone. However, if you follow the success tips given, you won’t tire out but find it refreshing and life-changing.