Can you train yourself to be more grateful? Even when everything feels like it’s going down the toilet?
Well, I’m not saying this is a magic button for EVERYONE, but gratitude journal prompts can help to brighten up your day.
In this article, I’ll briefly cover why it pays to express gratitude, and give you over 50+ journal prompts to kickstart your gratitude journaling.
Why it Pays to Be Grateful
If you want to feel joy on the inside, adopt the habit of gratitude.
It’s not just a cliché. The science backs this up.
Gratitude is a valuable asset in our emotional well-being toolkit. It helps us navigate all kinds of challenges. And rewards us with a noticeable boost in happiness and overall life satisfaction. 1
Dr. Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on all things gratitude talks about the advantages that come with adopting an attitude for gratitude.
He succinctly summarises four reasons to be grateful: 2
- Gratitude allows us to participate, celebrate and value our positive life experiences. In turn, we feel good about ourselves.
- Gratitude offers protection against depression, and toxic emotions like resentment, regret, and envy, which can adversely affect our well-being.
- When you can express genuine gratitude for life’s ups and downs, you become more resilient to harmful stressors, suffering, anxiety, and trauma.
- Gratefulness strengthens relationships — both our own self-worth and the relationships we have with those around us.
Gratitude is More than Thank-You’s
Gratitude isn’t just about thanking everyone you come into contact with.
Of course, extending a well-deserved ‘thank-you’ is good vibes.
Always be that type of person.
But, the simple act of expressing gratitude to yourself is powerful enough. Even when we initially think there’s not much to be grateful for.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re going through a breakup. You’ve just been dumped by your lover and it’s hard not to feel like your entire life is over.
You think about the time spent together, or what could have been if things had worked out differently. Maybe you thought this would be your forever person, and now there’s nothing left but memories… the good times… the bad times… and those in-between times.
But through all the tears, upset, and anger, and constant journaling you reach a point where you can be thankful this person came into your life. They helped you experience love. Even though it didn’t last.
And if this person was totally wrong for you, your journal can help you reflect on the lessons and growth you experienced. Which hopefully, will lead you to make better choices with your next love interest.
Ways to Express Gratitude in a Journal
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to write about.
A common issue with gratitude journaling is that we can find ourselves writing about the usual things. Like our family, health, home, and work.
Yes, those aspects of our lives are important, but it’s easy to get stuck in a loop of being grateful for the same stuff – day in, day out.
And let’s be honest, that can get a little boring.
So I’ve put together a list of gratitude prompts for you to use daily or weekly. These are designed to get you thinking deeply about the specifics of what you’re grateful for. And why you’re grateful for it.
50+ Gratitude Journal Prompts
- What was the last thing you laughed about?
- Describe a time when you felt like a superhero.
- Who’s the biggest hero or role model in your life? Why?
- In what ways is your life better than it was last year?
- How do you feel about yourself when you’re at your best?
- What’s something you’ve achieved that made you well up with pride? What does this say about who you are, and/or want to be?
- Name three things you like about your favourite sweater.
- What’s something small that makes your living area feel like “home?”
- In what ways do your pets (if you have any) enhance your life
- Describe a pleasant surprise from the past week.
- Who’s been you biggest supporter(s) throughout your life? How have they shown up for you in different moments or phases?
- When you’ve had a crappy day, what makes things better?
- Write a letter to someone who believed in you when you didn’t believe in yourself (and, if they’re still around, consider sending it to them).
- When was the last time you heard someone say something funny?
- Write about something big or small that made today better.
- Make a list of where and when you feel happiest.
- What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given to you?
- Write down three of your best qualities. Now, write down how you could use each quality to help someone else this week.
- What’s something that makes you feel calm?
- What memories take you to your happy place?
- Describe a physical space you love being in?
- Fill in the blanks: I’m grateful when I feel _____ because it reminds me of _____.
- Make a list of five things that make your life easier.
- What was the most beautiful sight you saw today?
- What was the most mouth-watering thing you ate this week?
- What are you most looking forward to today?
- Describe a recent act of kindness that you witnessed and explain why it made such an impact on you.
- What song makes you want to dance (or at least tap your foot to)
- What or who makes you feel young at heart?
- Describe your last AHA! moment.
- What or who makes you feel safe, loved, or cared for?
- Who are you closest to in your family? Describe your relationship.
- How has journaling made a difference in your life?
- What food(s) are you most grateful to have in your kitchen right now?
- Think of someone who’s relatively new to your life. What do you appreciate about them?
- What’s one good thing that happened because you let go of something or someone that was bad for you?
- What do you most enjoy about the area you live in?
- What did someone do for you today that made your day easier?
- In this moment what’s the smallest thing you’re grateful for?
- What part of your body and its functions do you take for granted? Now think about how this body part supports you every day. Express your gratitude for this part of yourself.
- Write about a recent interaction you had with a kind stranger.
- Write three things about your closest friend that makes them special.
- What’s something you did for someone else that made them happy today, this week, this month? How did that make you feel?
- If you could choose one person to inherit ten million pounds, who would it be, and why?
- Jot down three positive words that describe the relationship you have with yourself. Why did you choose those words?
- What’s something you did to take care of yourself this week?
- Write about someone who recently helped you out.
- Describe one moment of joy you experienced today.
- If you had to leave your house or country tomorrow, what would you miss most about where you live now?
- Write about an experience at work or in your personal life that didn’t go well this week, but still taught you something valuable.
- Which activities make your life more enjoyable?
- What do you like to do when you’re out and about in nature?
- Did someone help you learn a new skill recently? Who was it, and what did they teach you? What were you most grateful for?
- What have been some of your proudest career moments so far?
- Is there one thing in your life right now that’s simply fun and makes you happy just to think about it? Describe this in detail.
- What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re on your own?
So now you have your gratitude journal prompts, it’s time to get to work. Grab a pen and notebook, and start writing.
Be as specific as possible:
Gratitude journaling isn’t just about writing down words. It’s about tapping into your emotions and reflecting on what you experienced in that moment. That way you can continue to savour that good thing in the present. When you can go into specifics of why something—or someone—makes you feel grateful, then that feeling will be even more intense. And, if there are some prompts you aren’t into, skip them. It’s totally allowed. Enjoy your day.
- Cunha, L. F., Pellanda, L. C., & Reppold, C. T. (2019). Positive psychology and gratitude interventions: A randomized clinical trial. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.
- Emmons, R. (2010, November 12). What Good Is Gratitude? Retrieved May 02, 2022 from www.youtube.com; Greater Good Science Center.