Why Keep a Gratitude Journal? (4 Steps to Get You Started)

I use a field notes notebook for my gratitude journal.

Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the easiest ways to cultivate a mindfulness practice.

At it’s core, mindfulness is mental training. Different mindful practices train your brain to operate in a certain way.

Just like exercises in the gym, all of them support your overall health. But each has their own unique benefits.

With a gratitude journal, the exercise is dead-simple: every day, write down a handful of things you are grateful for.

But simple and easy doesn’t equal low-impact!

The benefits of this practice far outweigh the time you put in. This happens in two ways:

  • You’ll learn to cultivate gratitude by conditioning your mind through practice.
  • You’ll create a vault of goodness to draw upon in tough times.

Cultivating Gratitude

Every time you write in your gratitude journal, you’re training your mind. This practice helps you enter a state of gratitude each and every day.

Gratitude is worth your time because it is an antidote to negative emotions.

“You can’t feel fear or anger while feeling gratitude at the same time”.

– Tony Robbins

Cultivating gratitude will help you promote feelings of positivity, peace, and joy on a regular basis.

The best way to get good at a new skill or behavior is to practice regularly. It only takes a couple minutes every day.

Creating a Vault of Goodness

A gratitude journal starts small. The pages were empty, but you write a few notes down every day.

Over time, your journal turns into something powerful. Small actions, consistently over time, create a large impact.

I’ve kept a gratitude journal in some form for well over a year now, with hundreds of individual notes.

My life is better because of each and every note I’ve written!

I refer back to this journal in challenging times. It helps me shift my focus away from a point of stress or anxiety.

Spending time remembering what you’re grateful for helps shift you into a healthy headspace.

Now’s your chance to get started!

I use a field notes notebook for my gratitude journal.

How to Keep a Gratitude Journal (4 Best Practices)

The first time I tried to create a habit of gratitude journaling, I failed. It was a negative point in my life, and I struggled to see the point of writing in my journal.

Since then, I’ve rebounded emotionally. And I’ve built a consistent habit of cultivating gratitude in the process.

Learn from my mistakes, and get started today with these four steps:

1. Pick a format that works for you

A gratitude journal can be physical or digital.

I prefer a physical version, and use a Field Notes memo book (see photo up top).

It’s small and portable, so it’s easy for me to toss in my bag when I travel. Evernote and Day One are great digital tools that could work well for a gratitude journal.

(I’ve also enjoyed using The Five Minute Journal, although it covers more than just gratitude.)

2. Keep it simple to stay consistent

Eliminate as much variability from the journaling process as you can. Consistency is key when building new habits. Pick a consistent time to write. And stick to a standard format.

I like ending the day with my gratitude journaling. Right before bed, I’ll grab my notebook and write. Each day is the same.

Here’s what I write:

[Today’s Date]
Today I am grateful for
– [something I’m grateful for]
– [another thing I’m grateful for]
– …

3. Create a physical reminder

You might have the best intentions, but it’s easy to forget to write when you’re building this new habit.

Put a physical reminder in a place where you will see it every day. This will prompt you to write in your journal.

I put my gratitude journal on my bedside table, or even right on my pillow. Every night before sleep, it’s right there waiting for me. I have no chance of forgetting about it!

4. Don’t overthink it

A gratitude journal is about developing appreciation for the small things in your life. It helps you see that there are many positive aspects in your life, even when you’re feeling down.

If you’re struggling to think of what to write, start with the small things: The clothes on your back, the food in your fridge, your family and friends, etc…

Take Time to be Grateful Every Day

On really good days, I’m glowing with positivity. It’s easy for me to add lots of things to the list.

On less good days, I bring it back to the basics. Writing in my notebook feels like an exercise. But the important thing is to stay with it. The challenging days are when it matters most!

Finding joy in simple things is one of the keys to living your best life.

The little things matter. So grab a notebook, and start writing!


234 Notes From My Gratitude Journal (in no particular order)

Notes from my gratitude journal over the course of 7 months.

There were a lot of repeat items, but these are all different!

– Beautiful weather
– My health
– Pumpkin bread
– Good lunch with a coworker
– Movies
– Really nice coworkers
– Spring weather
– Dancing
– Brunch
– Aldi
– Exercise
– Meeting new people
– Dive bars
– Team spirit
– Sushi
– Patios
– Instagram
– Yoga
– Having a supportive mentor
– My mother and father
– Chicago
– Music
– Chinatown
– Sleep
– Warm weather
– BBQ food
– The beach
– Live music
– Generous friends
– My college experience
– Competition and games
– The ability to travel
– My independence
– Technology
– My friends (There are too many names to include here. In my journal, I name people individually 🙂 )
– Access to good, healthy food
– Rock climbing
– Indoor plumbing
– Casey Neistat
– Perspective
– Plants
– Positivity
– Good restaurants
– My body
– Singing
– Reunions
– Photography
– My bike
– Meditation
– Salmon
– Brooklyn Boulders
– Donuts
– Kozy’s bike shop
– Comedy
– Storytelling
– Asian food
– Piano
– Avocado
– Clean water
– Clothing
– Bouldering
– Art
– A comfortable bed to sleep in
– My personal safety and wellbeing
– Whiskey tasting
– My work ethic
– Not getting hit by a car on my bike
– Gaining confidence
– Making money
– Podcasts
– Tim Ferriss
– Seth Godin
– Dental hygiene
– Teamwork
– Coupon codes
– Skiing
– Food and nutrition
– Public transit
– Slowing down
– Chicken and Waffles
– Levelheadedness
– Cereal
– Tankjam
– Guitar
– Getting invited to social events
– Naval Ravikant
– My education
– Jazz
– Electricity
– GaryVee
– The Art of Learning
– Thriftiness
– Vacations
– Hot chicken
– Vegetables
– Freedom
– Movement
– Life
– My instincts
– Mindfulness
– Crock pot curry
– iPhones
– Tasty food
– Josh Waitzkin
– Change
– Myself!
– Granola
– Saving money
– Engaging stories
– Yoga instructors
– The internet
– Bowl meals
– Taking the high road
– Quora
– Clear writing
– Maintaining an agreement with myself
– Cooking
– Crisp air
– Cookies
– Blue skies
– Family
– Persistence
– Gratitude
– Kelly Starrett
– iO Theater
– Milkshakes
– Moving lunches
– Peanut butter
– Smiles
– Maintenance
– Choosing to be happy
– Free food
– Skating
– Thai food
– Mario Kart
– Snapchat
– The Office
– Pixar
– The 606
– Palmer Square
– Facing fears
– Tax refunds
– Table tennis
– Pepper jelly
– Making good nutritional choices
– My youth
– Ice cream
– Grilling
– The Head and the Heart
– Financial stability
– Dessert
– Having a body
– Living in a safe place
– Running
– Lake Michigan
– Stretching
– My privilege
– The Alchemist
– Tacos
– Late sunsets
– My sisters
– Rolf Potts
– Inspiration
– Air conditioning
– Little wins
– Photographs
– Tennis
– Summer heat
– Abundance
– Mac & Cheese bites
– Podcasts
– Feeling content
– Open and accepting people
– Slackening
– Physical therapy
– Vegetables
– Standing desks
– Taking the high road
– Communicating well
– Tony Robbins
– Taking a walk
– Discipline
– The cabin
– Mariano’s
– Improving flexibility
– The beach
– Rocks
– Oven baked chicken
– Videography
– Random phone calls
– Making friends
– Activists
– The freedom to travel
– Grocery shopping
– Patience
– Coffee
– Spike ball
– Bike rides
– En Hakkore
– Hip hop
– Birthday snack
– New opportunities
– Breakfast tacos
– Smart colleagues
– Cafes
– Neighbors
– Almond butter
– Youtube
– Night time bike rides home
– Technology
– Broccoli
– Completing projects
– Comedy
– Burritos
– Morning runs
– Air travel
– Journaling
– The ocean
– Wifi
– The Graveyard Book
– Fail Fast, Fail Often
– The outdoors
– Warm blankets
– Trains
– Starting Mindful Ambition
– Webinars
– Blogging
– Tara Brach
– Mountains
– Dinner parties
– Foam rollers
– Brussels sprouts
– You

There are so many good things in this world. We’re all truly blessed.

What are you grateful for? Leave a comment below and let me know.