How to Create a Gratitude Journal That Actually Works

How to Create a Gratitude Journal that Actually Works

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough – Oprah Winfrey

It’s easy to become bogged down in minutiae, particularly during days when even the smallest of things doesn’t go as planned. As someone who naturally adopts a ‘glass-half-empty’ perspective on life when things don’t go my way, I find it difficult not to get pulled into a wave of negative energy that affects my mindset and how I function.

In an effort to try and gain a more positive perspective in my day-to-day life, I started to fill out a gratitude journal of all the beautiful things that I have to be grateful for, and I discovered that it was an incredible helpful tool to boost my mindset on even the most difficult of days. Actively forcing myself to focus on the positive has indeed had a positive impact on my perception of how I live and work.

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The Benefits of Using a Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal doesn’t have to take a large amount of time – being as simple and straightforward as personal preference permits – but the act of daily reflection not only allows for regular and targeted mindfulness, but encourages a happier way of life and sense of self.

It encourages daily writing, can spark ideas and can potentially motivate over time.

A gratitude journal is done offline, away from the endless thoughts of others in social media streams.

Any positive habit can help to reduce stress levels and change perspectives on negative situations.

A gratitude journal can be an incredible reminder of positive memories and experiences.

How to Use a Gratitude Journal

Decide on the type of journal you wish to use. This could anything from a pre-made monthly diary diary, a Ruled Paper Notebook or a Bullet Journal like this Dotted Journal by Scribbles That Matter. You can have a dedicated journal just for gratitude, and decorate it with images and doodles of things that make you happy, or just a simple list on a blank page. I use my Bullet Journal for everything, so I have adapted it to incorporate monthly spreads in which I fill out things that I am grateful for each day. I also have a ‘2019 Memories’ page in which I record positive events and experiences I’ve had during the year.

Start small. As you’re building up the habit of daily gratitude, it may be easier to just note one thing a day that you’re grateful for, with the idea of building it up over time.

Set aside some time every day to fill out your gratitude journal. This only needs to be ten minutes (although it could be longer if needed), perhaps in a quiet moment after you’ve just woken up if you’re an early bird, or before bedtime if you’re more of a night owl, but remember to try and make it part of a routine so that it becomes a habit, and it is incredibly important to be mindful about what it is that you are thankful for. Simply going to the motions to fill out a spread won’t be as effective. 

Try to connect with your gratitude on an emotional level. What makes you feel good and brings a sense of joy are the things to feel gratitude for.

Gratitude Journal Spread Ideas

A line-a-day idea is the most simple and least time-consuming way of being able to record a moment of gratitude at the end of each day, and all that is needed as a pen and something as basic as a piece of paper.

I love this idea from Bujo Sonia, where everything is included on a single page.

Gratitude Journal Spread Idea by Bujo Sonia


This one from Stephiejournals caught my eye.

Gratitude log spread idea from Stephiejournals


Here’s another layout from Bujoescape. Not necessarily a line a day, but in list form. I love the handwriting too!

Gratitude Journal Spread Idea by Bujo Escape


Try a single box monthly calendar layout like this one from Burst and Blossom – it takes very little time to hand-draw individual boxes and fill out just a few thoughts a day. I also like the quote at the side and the pretty effect of the heather drawn at the bottom.

Gratitude Journal Spread Idea by Burst and Blossom


This idea from Aurora Avalon Creations takes a similar approach – using a box with individual lines to record gratitude for the day, either hand-drawn or as stickers.

Gratitude Journal Spread Idea by Aurora Avalon Creations


Why not try both? Written Intentions has two great examples of a line-a-day list and a box design to record gratitude.

Gratitude Journal Spread Ideas by Written Intentions


Enjoy a more visual approach? I like this layout from The Pagan Planner that has images and a space at the side for writing notes.

Gratitude Journal Spread Ideas by The Pagan Planner


Fancy being a little more artistic? I loved this flower pattern from Bullet Journal Becca across a double page spread – notes of gratitude can be dotted around the design on both sides.

Gratitude Journal Spread Idea by Bullet Journal Becca


Why not create a quote next to your gratitude spread? I loved this one from The Gratitude Log.

Gratitude Journal Spread by The Gratitude Log

All images have been shared with full permission from each owner. Click on the links to be taken to their beautiful Instagram accounts!

Need some extra motivation? Reward yourself at the end of each month once you have completed your gratitude journal, which will provide something to look forward to!

Great Prompt Ideas for Your Gratitude Journal

  • Family, friends or amazing colleagues.
  • One thing about your personality that you love the most.
  • One thing about your body that you love the most.
  • A challenging obstacle that you have overcome that day.
  • A personal talent that makes you special.
  • A moment where you were proud of yourself.
  • One person who made you laugh today.
  • A compliment someone paid you today.
  • An act of kindness from somebody you don’t know.
  • A gloriously sunny day and fresh air.
  • Alone time.
  • The quiet.
  • One thing a partner or friend has done for you today, just because…
  • The love of a pet.
  • A goal that has been accomplished, however small.
  • The pleasure taken from a hobby.
  • A hot bubble bath.
  • An incredible view.
  • A great trip.
  • Beautiful architecture.
  • An object of sentimental value.
  • The change in the seasons: spring flowers, summer sun, autumn colours, the first snowfall of winter.
  • The first bite of your favourite meal.
  • A wedding.
  • A fabulous book, incredible song, great film or inspiring podcast.
  • That one inspirational quote that blows your mind.
  • The smell of freshly-washed laundry after it has dried outside in the sun.
  • A night of nostalgia.
  • A positive lesson from a mistake you made.
  • Something you are looking forward to.
  • A personal challenge that you have overcome.
  • The ability to make your own choices and decisions.
  • A favourite memory.
  • An amazing opportunity.

What about you guys? What are you grateful for? Do you use a gratitude log?

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12 thoughts on “How to Create a Gratitude Journal That Actually Works

  1. I try to add gratitude to my Unbullet Journal. Some of these examples weren’t specific, such as “I’m grateful for my health”. But your prompts will lead people to be more specific, which I think is the better way to do a gratitude journal. So instead of writing that I’m grateful for my friends, I wrote, “I’m grateful that we went out to dinner with our friends last night. We ate and talked and laughed for hours until we closed the restaurant down.”

  2. I have a small book that I write gratitude in for a goid few years. I have created bujo for affirmations.

    I find affirmations and gratitude a wonderful combination in creating peace in life.

    Great post and great inspirations to make the journal beautiful.

  3. I love this so much! And thank you for including my handlettering as inspiration! I love seeing how creative people are with how they incorporate gratitude into their journals. One of my favorite kinds of gratitude page is a scrap-booky approach, with photos and doodles and long-hand of things that make me happy and grateful. 🙂

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