How To Start Writing in a Gratitude Journal
One of the most effective activities to create an attitude of gratitude is to write in a gratitude journal. The challenge for many people is not knowing where to start, or simply starting but not creating a new habit. I started consistently writing in my gratitude journal in 2011, missing only a handful of days in almost 6 years. In this post, I’ll share my strategies on how to start & continue writing in a gratitude journal.
Choose a journal
The first step is to find a journal you love. Sure, you can start with any old notebook you’ve got lying around, but what I’ve found is that when I love the notebook, I’m more likely to write it in. I’ve purchased some beautiful notebooks online from Tiny Devotions. When I’m out shopping, I’ll always stop in at Indigo or HomeSense to check out their selection of journals. There are so many at Indigo that it’s hard to choose! Homesense (or Winners) tends to have more unique journals that you won’t find anywhere else. Tim Ferriss, one of my favorite authors and podcasters, uses The Five-Minute Journal. This journal has writing prompts already in the book, so it’s great if you’d like a guided journal.
And something to write with
After you’ve found a great journal, don’t overlook the importance of a pen. Sounds like a simple thing, however having a pen that works and is in the right colour, can make all of the difference. For me, black ink is the best and I prefer the roller ball style. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it works and doesn’t seep through the page. You’ll want to keep you journal and pen together on your bedside table.
When to write
Now that you’ve got your tools, you can choose when you’d like to write in your journal. I choose to write in the evening, as the last thing I do before I turn out the lights. No matter where I am, how long I have been travelling or how tired I am, I write. My gratitude journal is always in my carry on!
Others choose to write in their journal first thing in the morning. Either is great. When you are first starting out, you might want to try both out for a week to see what works best for you. If you’re being woken up by little ones in the morning, it might be best to write before you go to bed.
What to write
This is what can be a stumbling block for many people. Having written thousands and thousands of gratitudes over a few years, I choose to keep it very simple. I start each of my sentences with:
I am truly grateful that (or for) ___________________________________________________.
And I write a minimum of three sentences, each with something or someone different that I am grateful for on that specific day. What is really powerful is when you write something different every day. This helps you to create a more positive outlook on life as you are always looking for what to be grateful for. I choose to write in the evening as it helps me to frame my day in a positive way, no matter how difficult it might have been.
When it seems like there’s nothing to be grateful for
On the day I suffered my first traumatic miscarriage, I took out my gratitude journal before bed. I remember crying and wondering how I could find anything to be grateful for on such a terrible day. Yet I had already been writing in my journal every night for almost two years and I somehow found the resolve to find things to be grateful for. And what I was most grateful for was that my daughter was at daycare and not at home with me when it happened.
How to continue writing
Once you’ve figured out what time of day works best for you, set a reminder in your phone. If you’re writing in the evening, set a recurring daily alarm for about 15 minutes before you usually go to bed. And for those writing in the morning, if you are using your phone as an alarm, you can change the name of the alarm to wake up with gratitude to remind you to write.
Keeping the habit going
There will be late nights when you don’t feel like writing. Keep in mind that it takes no more than 5 minutes to write in your gratitude journal. And the effects can last for hours. Over time, the effect lasts for much longer, and you’ll find reasons to be grateful throughout your day. Stick to it and you’ll find that it’s always worth the effort.
Up-level your gratitude journal
For those who already have a habit of writing in a gratitude journal, I invite you to add one extra step to your process. Choose a goal that you are working towards; something that you’d like to manifest in your lift. Then write it in a gratitude sentence, in the present tense, as though it has already happened. For example, I am truly grateful to be living in our new family home in Burlington. That’s what I did five years ago and 12 weeks later, we bought our first family home in Burlington. This phrase stays the same every night, or until you’ve decided on a new goal. It’s very powerful if you do this before bed, as you can visualize your dream coming true just before you fall asleep.
Take a photo of your gratitude journal and share it on my Facebook page, I’d love to see what yours looks like. Here’s a photo of my current one. And let me know in the comments if you’re ready to commit to writing your gratitude journal now that I’ve given you all of the insider tips!