The Gratitude Journal Guide - How to use and the benefits

Wouldn't it be great to wake up each morning in a positive mindset, filled with energy and ready to make the best out of the day ahead of you? This can all be possible from practising gratitude daily, and in this blog post, we'll cover the easiest way to do this with the use of a gratitude journal.

Gratitude has the following benefits:

  • Improves mental strength and energy. Behaviour Research published a study that showed war veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower levels of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

  • Improves psychological health. Robert Emmons who is a leading gratitude researcher has shown through multiple studies a link between your own well being and gratitude, and that gratitude can increase happiness while reducing depression.
  • Improves physical health. People who practise gratitude are more likely to take care of their health and perform regular exercise.
  • Enhances empathy and reduces aggression. A study by the University of Kentucky showed that grateful people tend to act in a more prosocial manner. By practising gratitude, you become more in tune with your emotions and are also more capable of spinning a negative situation to have a more positive outlook.

  • Improved self-esteem. Studies have shown that gratitude can reduce social comparisons - gratitude will effectively channel your thoughts on to what you have, rather than what others have. Grateful people are also more likely to appreciate other people accomplishments, rather than resent them. 
  • Improved sleep. Applied Psychology published a study that showed using a gratitude journal before bed can often improve the level of sleep. By using a gratitude journal before bed and focusing on the things you can be grateful for may help you have a better nights sleep.

Why use a gratitude journal

Using a gratitude journal will certainly help you achieve the benefits that we mentioned above.

A gratitude journal will help you to keep track of the small things (e.g. a compliment from a coworker, catching up with a friend over coffee, getting all of your work projects completed) that happened to you in your day that you could be grateful for but may forget due to your busy schedule.

We tend to focus on the negative things that have happened and end up giving them more time and energy (e.g. Boss criticised your work, missed your train, spilt coffee on your clothes), so a gratitude journal will work as a reminder to focus on the positive. 

By keeping a gratitude journal, you are keeping yourself accountable to appreciate more and have a more positive outlook on life.

What to write in a gratitude journal

Getting into the flow of using a gratitude journal daily can be difficult to get into. It is worth spending some time to evaluate all of the things in your life that you could be truly grateful for. These can be big things (e.g. your family, relationships), or they can be quite simple (e.g. your morning walk to work).

When writing your daily entry into a gratitude journal, it is recommended that you try to think of different things to be grateful for each day. This prevents you from getting into a routine of writing the same things out and losing the emotions/feeling attached to them. 

To help you with your gratitude journal entries, see the prompted questions below:

  • What person in my life am I grateful for?
  • What old relationships have shaped my life positively?
  • What quality in my partner do I admire?
  • What is one thing that I am looking forward to in the future?
  • What happened yesterday that I haven't appreciated yet?
  • What could I appreciate about my work life? 
  • What can I appreciate about my health?
  • What can I appreciate about my financial situation?
  • What can I appreciate about the weather today?
  • What can I appreciate about my morning commute?
  • What can I appreciate about my past successes?
  • What can I appreciate about my childhood?
  • What can I appreciate about past opportunities?
  • What can I appreciate about lessons learnt?
  • What can I appreciate about where I live?

When should you use a gratitude journal

Gratitude journals can be used at any point in the day, but you will get the most positive benefits from using one at the start and end of your day.

By starting the day off with gratitude practice, you give yourself the best start to the day, with a positive outlook and increased energy to tackle the day ahead. 

Using a gratitude journal in the evening before you go to bed is a great way to unwind from a busy day. It also helps to prevent you from focusing on any current stress in your life or tasks that you weren't able to complete that day.

Where to start

There are a number of gratitude journals on the market, all of which will have their benefits. Alternatively, you could use a simple notebook to write in at the start and end of each day, although these may not offer the structure needed.

Our own Daily Goal Setter works both as a gratitude journal and productivity planner. At the start of each day, there is space for 3 things to be grateful for. There is also an area to write down a daily affirmation. Each daily page features a quote to help inspire and motivate.

Whichever way you choose to practice gratitude, we are sure that you will see the benefits of making it part of your daily routine.

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