How to Keep A Gratitude Journal and Why You Should Keep One



image by BK

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

– Melody Beattie


We live in a society that is focused on instant gratification and entitlement. People end up focusing so much on what they should have, what they deserve, and what they don’t have that they forget to appreciate what they do have.

There is nothing wrong with wanting things. There is nothing wrong with wanting a better, more comfortable life. There is nothing wrong with ambition, in fact, healthy ambition is good. It encourages you to push yourself, to be the best you can be. But in pursuing our wants and wishes, we need to remember what we have.

I recently watched The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Lovely movie. But the main character, now having achieved one of his main goals – the woman of his dreams, is so hell bent on pursuing his ambition for expansion that he is losing sight of what he has. He’s not the only one. We all do it. Particularly those of us who are driven and ambitious. We keep diving from one project to next, always in search for that next step that will take us closer to where we want to be.

But we need to remember….we are here now. Right now is all we have, because no one knows how many tomorrows are left.

So we need to value the now.

We need to appreciate it.

We need to be grateful for the things we have, and the people who are with us.

Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to do it. Whether  you keep a separate journal, or just include gratitude in your regular journal, it doesn’t matter. Do what works best for you. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated, or overly sentimental, or elaborate. A simple sentence that starts with “I am thankful for…” or “I’m grateful…” is enough. 

Think about everything and everyone that you are thankful for. This will change from day to day. 

One day you may be grateful that someone gave you a lift in the rain. Another day you may be grateful for the continuous support of your parents or partner or siblings. You may be grateful for friends who have remained at your side through thick and thin, or a cheerful bus driver who brightens up your morning by wishing you a good morning. 

Life is made up for both little and big moments, and your gratitude journal is a place to appreciate all of it. By listing everything you are grateful for, you will not only come to appreciate everything you have, but you will also get an immediate boost of happiness by having that awareness. 


Start your gratitude journal, by listing at least 5 things that you are grateful for. 




6 thoughts on “How to Keep A Gratitude Journal and Why You Should Keep One

  1. One of the things I have learned through journaling is sometimes the days where you dont want to find things to be grateful for are the days you most need it. Finding those things make difficult times much easier to work with. This past weekend for example I got stranded overnight in a hotel because of weather. I knew I could have been upset at being stuck without a change of clothing and having to walk in snow to get to the hotel. Instead my journal entries from that weekend focused on the fact that I wasn’t alone, some orchestra friends were with me. We all were looking out for each other, it’s nice knowing that people are there for you. I was safe, not stuck on the highway in my car like other people or in a car accident of any kind. Making the conscious choice to focus on the positives instead of the negatives made that weekend much more fun and enjoyable despite the rough situation, and jounraling totally helped make me more aware of that in the moment (I was lucky that I at least had my journal with me since I carry it with me at this point).

  2. When I started going through breast cancer treatments, I started my journal of gratitude. 6 weeks after I finished that treatment, I was diagnosed with tonsil cancer and had to have a second round of treatments. Long story short, this particular journal has helped me through these miserable events. Even today, I add to it and read the first parts. In the back, I keep quotes and verses that are inspirational to me. Having faced the possibility of death twice within a year’s time, I learned a lot by keeping this journal. I try to keep as positive as possible and keep the negative as far away as possible, especially toxic people who pretend to be friends. I’m not nasty or anything, I try to keep them at arms length. I try to smile, even when I don’t feel like it and to compliment people I see each day, even if I don’t know them. I take great pleasure in helping others feel good about themselves. That both cancers wee found early in Stage one, shows me how very, very fortunate I have been. I have had these past five years I may not have and that is something I am grateful for each day. It is so much better to grateful and positive no matter how one’s life is going. Keep smiling, be grateful, and be as positive as possible.

    Thank you for this wonderful article and advice! It is so important for us all.

  3. Kate,
    Seeing the good even within the bad is a w0onderful thing. I agree with you 100%. It would seem that you follow my belief that to find hope always helps one cope no matter what is going on in their life. You expressed this all so beautifully. I have a question, but I believe I know the answer. Do you write in your journal of gratitude even when things are going well in your life?

  4. In answer to your question, yes. My gratitude is kept with my regular journal so it’s very easy for me to add something that I am grateful for when I am writing since most of the time it corresponds with what is going on. I generally write in my journal at least every other day and most of the time get a front and back of a page in at least. My favorite thing to add to my journals is things that make me laugh, which usually comes in the form of quotations from friends.

  5. Kate,

    That’s an excellent point – yes, you are right. We need to focus on the positives the most when we don’t want to (otherwise it would be too easy, right?)

    Of course it doesn’t mean that we are never going to mope about…but there should be awareness of that negativity, so that we can pull away from it.

  6. Evelyn,

    I am sorry to hear about the rough time you have had…but it is also so promising and touching to hear that you keep looking for the positives, and things you are grateful for.

    You are very right about toxic people – arm’s length is even too generous sometimes. Surrounding one’s self with the right people, and keeping away from the toxic, negative ones is not selfish or nasty, it’s just smart living. We wouldn’t eat poison, so why have it in our environment?

    Keep smiling :-) And keep looking for those nuggets of gratitude. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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