How to Start a Gratitude Journal

How to Start a Gratitude Journal: 5 Easy Steps to Be Happier1 min read

By Jon Beaty

April 30, 2015

gratitude, happiness, journaling

Learning how to start a gratitude journal can help you lower blood pressure, protect you from illness, and boost your happiness and well-being.

Practicing gratitude can also improve your relationships at home, and at work, by making you more helpful, generous and cooperative.

These are just a few of the benefits of gratitude journaling discovered in clinical studies conducted by researchers.

These studies support the divine wisdom in the Bible record. In the Bible we're told that it's God's will for us to give thanks--all the time!

Gratitude has tremendous power to change you and me in positive ways. It's an effective remedy for envy, resentment, greed and bitterness.

Unleashing the Power of Gratitude

There are times in my life when gratitude was absent. I was just pushing my way through each day to get to the end so I could escape from my stress in sleep.

But stress finds you in your sleep.

I dreaded going to work each day. My marriage was on the rocks. I just wanted to sit on my couch, watch TV, and not think.

Gratitude would have been an effective antidote for my unhappiness.

It would have helped me cope with stress.

It would have improved my marriage.

It would have given me a more positive outlook on my job.

I could have used a gratitude journal. But it was years later that I began to understand the power of gratitude.

How to Start a Gratitude Journal

I'm going to show you 5 easy steps I've learned, that you can take today to start this simple habit of gratitude journaling. Gratitude journaling puts the power of gratitude at your fingertips so you can boost your happiness, and enrich your life, your relationships, and your work. 

  1. Keep a record - Decide where you're going to write the things you're grateful for. I use a pocket-size Moleskine Smart Notebook. These little journals are built to last, and come with a bonus for Evernote users--3 months of Evernote Premium. If writing isn't your thing, use your smartphone or tablet's speech recognition feature to transcribe your record in an online journal like Day One. The point here is to have a written record of your blessings to look back on, particularly in times of discouragement, and even to pass on to future generations.
  2. Record at least 3 blessings every other day - I keep my journal on the desk where I have my morning devotions. Put it where you'll remember to use it, or set a reminder on your smartphone or tablet. Make it easy to develop a new habit. Researchers have found that journaling your gratitude a few days a week is more effective than doing it daily--it prevents gratitude fatigue.
  3. Record the specifics - Record the details of what you're grateful for. This has greater power than using generalizations. For example, "I'm grateful for the sunshine," is too general. Don't do this. Instead, go for something like this: "I'm grateful for the sunshine today, because it's been cold and cloudy for several days. The sunshine made it enjoyable to be outside."
  4. Embrace on the unexpected - The blessings that have the greatest power to produce the benefits of gratitude are the blessings we don't expect--the gifts. Each time you record in your gratitude journal, include at least one blessing that surprised you. What good came your way that wasn't expected? What did you dread that didn't happen? 
  5. Expect an end - As you reflect on each blessing, learn to not take these for granted. Learn to recognize that these may not last. While today may be sunny, acknowledge that tomorrow, or next week may be cloudy again. While you may have good health today, know that it may not always be that way. This isn't to inspire a grim or pessimistic outlook on life. What it does is inspire greater appreciation for each blessing while you have it. It inspires more happiness in the moment.

Don't take your blessings for granted--take them as granted.

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Take the First Step

When we publicly proclaim our intentions, we have a much greater chance of following through. Will you get started on your gratitude habit now?

Share your commitment to start a gratitude journal with a comment below, and share one thing you're grateful for today.

About the author

I help Christian leaders apply the ways and words of Jesus to:
- Overcome limiting beliefs, habits, and traits.
- Build stronger connections with the people they live and work with.
- Clarify and achieve their personal goals and life mission.

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