How and Why to Start Gratitude Journaling! Plus 7 Beautiful Prompts to Go Deeper

Thoughtful Woman with Gratitude Journal

If you’ve always wanted to journal, these long holidays are a great time to start! In this article we look at gratitude journaling to boost our wellbeing on many levels!

In this article you’ll find 3 steps to get started with the simplest form of gratitude journaling: making a list of our blessings! We also take a quick look at the benefits of gratitude journaling, how it fits into the Fierce Kindness philosophy and offer some tips.

And if you already gratitude journal, you can jump straight to the 7 beautiful gratitude journaling prompts to go deeper.

A little about journaling…

More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. Journaling is a powerful way to connect with—and get to know—you. And it’s a lot easier than you might think!

It’s also great to choose a beautiful notebook and use a pen you like—but the most important thing is to just get started.

So, why Gratitude Journaling?

There are plenty of benefits; many of them now proven scientifically like lowering our stress, sleeping better, improving our relationships—and possibly even eating more healthily! A study of adolescents in 2018 found keeping a gratitude journal reduced materialism and made them more generous.

But don’t expect the benefits of gratitude journaling to be immediate… Various studies show improvements to mental wellbeing after 4 weeks. And, beautifully, some studies even show that wellbeing can continue improving for up to 3 months after starting a gratitude practice.

For more about the benefits of gratitude check out this white paper from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

The 4 Threads of Fierce Kindness

So, did you know gratitude forms a key part of the Fierce Kindness philosophy and practice? There are 4 threads (the “4 Cs”) that weave throughout Fierce Kindness that make for a fulfilling and meaningful life:

  1. CONNECT to yourself, others & something bigger.
  2. CREATE a life you love.
  3. CHOOSE kindness—always.
  4. CONTRIBUTE to make your world a better place.

CREATE a life you love is about actively working to make your life the way you want it AND also learning to love the life you currently have. And gratitude is what helps us appreciate what’s already great in our lives, so that we can be happy now, instead of waiting to create our “perfect” life.

Back to Gratitude Journaling

Many people think gratitude journaling is just about making lists of things we are grateful or thankful for. Well, there are lots of different ways to “gratitude journal”, but for now, simlple list-making a fabulous way to get started!

3 Steps to Get Started Gratitude Journaling

I use the word “blessings” as it’s an upbeat, happy word for many of us. But if it doesn’t work for you simply change the word to “things you are grateful/thankful for” in your life.

  1. Decide how many blessings—and how often—you’ll make your list.
    • I suggest finding 3 or 5 “Blessings” to start and making your list daily. It’s easiest to remember something you do every day.
    • And if you have the perfect weekly window to write your gratitude journal—great! If so, I recommend choosing more eg. 7-10 blessings.
  2. Choose a regular timeslot when you’ll make your list.
    • The hardest thing is going to be remembering/making a habit! So it’s good to build your gratitude journaling onto an existing habit or timeslot that rarely gets disrupted. Find something you already do every day/week, and then tag your gratitude journaling on.
    • DAILY: the beginning or end of day is a good time. For example in bed before you turn out the light, before or after meditating/your morning or evening shower or bath, with your first cup of coffee.
    • WEEKLY: what space do you regularly have or could you create weekly? A weekend morning over breakfast? Is there something your children or partner does weekly where you could create precious me-time?
  3. Make your list of blessings in your journal! And keep going until you’ve completed your list. If you can’t think of enough things to be grateful for, try:
    • Thinking smaller! Those delicious summer strawberries you had at breakfast, the sunshine (or rain if it’s raining and your garden needs it), or perhaps you just love your beautiful new bedding set.
    • Thinking bigger! I have a home, a job, a car, a life partner, my health.

An option to go deeper: As you identify each blessing take a few moments (try 3 deep breaths) to really FEEL the gratitude in your body. This has a calming and uplifting effect on your body’s physiology—increasing your calm and groundedness.

3 Final Gratitude Journaling Tips

  • Don’t force gratitude. Inauthenticity isn’t going to help us with out gratitude practice! Instead look for what you can genuinely be grateful for.
  • Sometimes gratitude can be uncomfortable—and that’s OK. For example we may feel indebted to someone, or worry something we feel blessed with will be taken away from us. Just be 1) aware of what you’re feeling, 2) acknowledge and 3) allow the uncomfortable feeling and be kind to it—before continuing with your list. For more on this see The 3 As Process here >>
  • Lastly, gratitude is a booster not a cure-all. Don’t use gratitude as a way to block mental pain, get over loss or to ignore something terrible that happened. Be sure to also make space to grieve, talk to someone or get help if needed.

Lastly, here are some timely gratitude journaling prompts to go deeper!

7 Beautiful Gratitude Journaling PromptsHand with Butterflies

Move more deeply into the practice of gratitude.

Write freely whatever comes to mind—a list, a paragraph (or several), a poem or something else…

  1. Today I am feeling _____. I think this is because _____. I am thankful for _____.
  2. Even during this pandemic, I am still grateful for _____.
  3. One big thing I am grateful to have learned during this crisis is _____. This has changed me by _____.
  4. What matters most to me in life is _____. I appreciate it by _____. Going forwards I will make more effort to appreciate this by _____.
  5. One thing that’s surprised me recently is _____. As a result I have decided to/am considering _____.
  6. I love _____. I am deeply grateful for _____. I wish _____. I forgive myself for _____.
  7. The most wonderful thing about being alive is _____.

Remember not to judge yourself! Whatever we learn about ourselves is helpful because knowledge allows us to make changes…

Wrap-up

Fierce Kindness LogoGratitude is an important piece of the Fierce Kindness philosophy. It’s a practice that boosts our wellbeing on many levels, and gratitude journaling is a great place to get started!

A journal is expressive by nature and it contains feelings, emotions, problems, ponderings and it is more reflective on the meaning of life being lived. Lynda Monk

And if you’d like some help getting started journaling, try this How to Journal article from Lynda Monk at the IAJW (International Association for Journal Writing).

Lastly remember:

Change the world. Start with you!

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Image of Woman considering what she is grateful for with notebook by krakenimages via Kraken Images

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