Starting Your Gratitude Journal

When I first wrote about gratitude journals, it was about my own experience, from grumpy doubter to believer. There’s considerable proof that saying “thank you,” and finding things to be grateful for reduces blood pressure, makes you feel better and actually can improve your mood.

Now that we are close to Thanksgiving, a time when people who are alone orCHR75reg2__06130_zoom overwhelmed may not feel so thankful, I thought it might be useful to spell out how to keep a gratitude journal. Of course, you can keep it any way that works, but working with a lot of coaching clients, I’ve found a few tips that really work well.

1. Keep it small and keep it with you. A small spiral-bound notebook is inexpensive and easy to carry with you. That makes it more likely you will have it with you when you need it. I like a 4-inch by 6-inch size.

2. Leave the first page blank. That way, you won’t feel so pressured to make it perfect. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be there for you.

3. Write it down when it happens. In the beginning, when you feel more exhausted, angry or hurt than grateful, write down the slightest thing you feel grateful for. Write it down as soon as it happens. Noting your gratitude will help sharpen your senses to things that make you grateful, and make more events available to you.

4. Write every day. Look for anything that makes you feel better or grateful. Some days you may have to search really hard, and that’s OK. Comfortable shoes, someone holding a door open for you, a smile from a stranger can be a big event in a life gone awry. Look for them so you will experience them more often.

5. Look back over what you are grateful for. Many people find that they start out small, then realize there is more and more. If that happens, it’s, well, something to be grateful for.

6. Be the stranger to smile at someone. Wouldn’t it be nice to wind up in someone’s gratitude journal?

If you have good results, let me know. It can be a boost to others. We’re in some tough times right now, not through any fault of our own. It takes a little more effort to be cheerful and grateful, but it’s worth it.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach who has learned to be grateful


10 thoughts on “Starting Your Gratitude Journal

  1. Hi Quinn! I’m making gratitude journals to give as gifts over the next year or so…Would you mind if I shared your article with the recipients. I’ve included your link for this post. I’d like to be able to say that you gave me permission. Thanks…you can reach me at susannasays[DOT]gmail[DOT]com.

  2. I’ve kept Gratitude Journals for years–there are always things to be grateful for, even if they are things that have NOT happened to you! When I look through past journals, I smile to see such entries as simple as “buttered toast”…so many blessings every day!!! Almost too numerous to list.
    God is good.

  3. I’m on my 18th year of doing gratitude journals. I do them along with reading a daily affirmation from Simple Abundance and The Book of Awakenings. The books are falling apart & ready for some new fancy duck tape to rescue the bindings once again. My current favorite gratitude journal is a day planner by Paulo Coelho. My only comment: “It has truly changed my life! DO IT!!!”

  4. Quinn, I have found an gratitude journal app that I enjoy. Here is the link. The reason I like it so much is that not only can you jot down what you are grateful for that day but it brings up random past entries that bring a smile and pleasant memories. During the day it will also ask you what you are grateful for now. Brings you into the moment and reminds you to be grateful. I think it was $3 or less.

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