Quick Start Guide to Creating a Gratitude Journal

November 12, 2018

Christian Gratitude Journals available at Clothed with Truth

Gratitude journals encourage you to focus on the good things in life that you might otherwise take for granted by establishing the habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events in the most ordinary moments of your days. Most importantly, however, gratitude journals create an deeply personal awareness of God's goodness, grace, and presence. Keeping a gratitude journal has been hugely popular of late with good reason. It’s simple, and it’s highly effective. With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, many people are inspired to begin a gratitude journal. If you're not quite sure where to begin, we've put together a quick start guide to help you get started.

What are some benefits of keeping a gratitude journal?

  • Simply put, gratitude journals help you to get your priorities in order. Consciously noting what you are grateful for helps you to gain clarity and a fresh perspective on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can do without.

  • Regularly focusing on the things that you are grateful for helps to prepare you to deal with the tough days that will inevitably arise from time to time. It’s often when we need gratitude the most, that it’s the most difficult to find. When you’re overcome with grief, anxiety, fear, or anger, it’s sometimes hard to see what’s going right in your life. One of the best ways to use a gratitude journal doesn’t involve writing in it...it involves reading it. Use this opportunity to read through your previous gratitude journal entries to help you see how far you've come, to remember God's gift of mercy, and to count your blessings even in the midst of heartache.  

  • Positivity fosters positivity. Gratitude is not dependent on changing conditions, but rather on your mindset. Your focus on a situation will shape your attitude. Studies have shown that an optimistic outlook can have several physical and emotional health benefits such as reduced stress levels, relief from worry and anxiety, better sleep patterns, a healthier immune system, a more resilient nervous system, a higher sense of empathy, and increased enthusiasm, focus, and energy. Few things have been more repeatedly and empirically vetted than the connection between gratitude and overall happiness and well-being. Envy, anger, and resentment melt away in the midst of thankfulness.

  • By human nature, it's easier to focus on what we don’t have, our imperfections and our problems rather than it is to be grateful for what we do have. With the combination of emotional stress, overwhelming responsibilities at work and at home, and the boredom of a repetitive daily routine, it can be easy to get trapped in a negative pattern of thinking. You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how to respond. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you to take control of your mind and trains your brain to focus on the good by crowding out negative or anxious thoughts.

  • Don't wait for a sense of gratitude, pursue it. Developing a mindset of gratitude does not involve a denial of the reality of life’s hardships and sorrows. Gratitude recognizes the painful moments of life which naturally attract our focus, but it also notices and acknowledges all the beauty, joy, goodness, and truth that is typically overlooked.

What do you write in a gratitude journal?

  • If you’re new to gratitude journaling, it can feel daunting to look at a blank page. Consider these simple prompts to get started.

    1. Write about the day's events that brought you comfort and deep peace.
    2. Pick a random photo and write about why you’re grateful for that memory.
    3. Think back to the last time you laughed until you cried and write about it.
    4. Think about someone who helped shape the person you are today and write about what they mean to you.
    5. Write about a mistake that you’ve made which ultimately led to a positive experience.
    6. Reflect upon a recent time when a stranger did something nice for you.
    7. Remember last thank you note you received and write about how it made you feel.
    8. Take an opportunity to thank God for an answered prayer.
    9. Write about something that is easy for you, but is challenging for others.
    10. Happy days are ahead! Write about something that you’re looking forward to in the near future.
    11. Recall recent "God winks" or how God has spoken directly to you through Divine intervention and the power of coincidence.

  • No blessing is too small. There's no need to be profound. Sometimes you need to skip the greatest hits reel of life's highlights and take a moment to think through and appreciate what may seem like the most mundane of simple joys. Use your gratitude journal as a tool to sharpen your powers of observation and develop a sense of appreciation for that which many others would otherwise overlook. In doing so a seemingly ordinary life, can be experienced as an extraordinary existence. 

  • Who says a gratitude journal has to be full of lists? Get creative...You can transform your gratitude journal into a scrapbook of sorts. Include everything from poetry to pressed flowers or leaves, sweet mementos and ticket stubs to snapshot photos or inspired doodles.
Tips on getting started...There's no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal, but the tips below may help you to make the most out of the time that you've set aside.
  • Aim for depth of content over the sheer volume of the list. Think quality over quantity. Diving deep and focusing in specific detail about a particular person or situation for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than creating a wide brushstroke with superficial items that read like a grocery list.

  • Focus on meaningful relationships, events, and experiences that you're grateful for rather than things. Rather than just writing what you are grateful for, also try writing about the reasons why you are grateful.

  • Don't make journal writing a chore...A common pitfall for those new to gratitude journaling is writing in their journals too often. Studies suggest that writing in a gratitude journal just three times every week has a greater impact than journaling every day. Be flexible...don’t take the joy away from the process by being overly regimented. Don’t worry if you don’t have some particular number of things written down every day. Some days you may write down twenty blessings, and other days, you may write just one or two.

  • Choose a peaceful spot, away from distractions, that will allow you the opportunity to focus and relax. Try not to hurry through this exercise as if it were just another item on your to-do list. Writing with your non-dominant hand can give focus to your work and keep your mind from wandering. 

  • Choose a gratitude journal that you'll treasure. Any notebook, pad of paper, or even a box of index cards will suffice, however, if you wish to select a special keepsake gratitude journal, consider investing in a journal bound of beautiful material, in your favorite color, or adorned with an inspirational quote that speaks to your heart. We encourage you to view the collection gratitude, devotional, and prayer journals available at Clothed with Truth. Regardless of what type of journal you choose or how you end up using it, the important thing is that you do use it. Take the time to affirm the goodness in your life and you'll be amazed at the transformation of your spirit. Gratitude is the gateway to experiencing greater joy. Happy journaling my friend!

    Grace Upon Grace Journal
  • Enjoy the Journey JournalGod Does Extraordinary Things Journal



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