How To Start — And Keep — A Gratitude Journal Using These 37 Expert Prompts

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daily gratitude journal prompts 0 - How To Start — And Keep — A Gratitude Journal Using These 37 Expert Prompts

This simple mindfulness practice can change your life.

Learning how to keep a daily gratitude journal can be a cathartic way to practice self-care and increase your overall happiness.

This simple mindfulness practice is a great way to gain deeper awareness of your own thoughts and feelings, while shifting your focus each day to center on those aspects of your life for which you feel most grateful.

How do you start a gratitude journal you’ll actually keep?

Like any habit, finding the time and inspiration to sit down on a daily basis and think about areas of your life you feel thankful for might seem daunting at first, but with practice and a little help from this list of quotes and prompts, you’ll be able to make positive changes that will benefit you for years to come.

Taking the time to train yourself in an “attitude of gratitude” by starting a gratitude journal — especially in time for your New Year’s resolution — can help open your eyes to the many wondrous things already around you.

Your life presents so many opportunities for express being grateful. By journaling, you’ll be able to train yourself to recognize them wherever they are.

If you’re ready to embrace happiness and improve your outlook in order to help you overcome challenges and reach your goals, then it’s time to learn about the benefits of gratitude and how spending a few minutes every day with simple quotes or journal prompts can impact your outlook on life.

Happiness isn’t something that comes from outside that you have to find — it’s already there, waiting for you to unlock it. By making a practice of searching for gratitude in your everyday life, you’re setting yourself up to see everything that brings you that warm, happy feeling.

So if you’re ready to change your life for the better, then it’s time to recognize all the wonderful things already inside of it!

To help you start keeping your own daily journal, here are 37 gratitude quotes, tips and prompts from YourTango Experts.

1. Journaling can help you create positive change

“Give thanks for the parts of your relationship, job, or career that you don’t like because that’s the signal it’s time for positive change. Note what you’ve learned from what’s unpleasant. Example: ‘Now I know what doesn’t work for me so I can discover what will,’ which helps you create the perfect transition plan to gain the relationship, job, or career you truly want.”

Doris Helge, Ph.D., certified leadership and executive coach

2. Reflect on happiness

“Let go of perfection … gratefulness means less defensiveness and a deeper sense of belonging with interconnectedness. Simply ask: ‘What’s the best thing about being me today?’ This quickly reframes life, sparks joy, and stirs the ancient stardust we each have within us.”

Laura Scott, energy healer and spiritual teacher

3. Avoid focusing on negatives

“It’s so easy to focus on what isn’t working or what you don’t have and that’s why keeping a gratitude journal can be so helpful. This is a powerful way to shift your focus on all the good in your life currently. Name three things you love about yourself and feel lucky about.”

Ronnie Ann Ryan, dating coach and author

4. Work on flexing your “gratitude muscle”

“When beginning a gratitude practice, it’s essential to start small to build your gratitude muscle so you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Every morning, when you’re feeling fresh, reach for your gratitude journal by your alarm clock and write out your response to the question, ‘What’s one thing that makes me feel grateful?’ After three weeks of creating that habit, you can graduate to, ‘What are all the ways I’ve been blessed?’ and more fully explore your thoughts and feelings on a broader basis.”

Lisa Petsinis, certified life coach focusing on stress management

5. Try not to view journaling as a chore

“Approaching a gratitude journal as a pause in the busy-ness of life to reflect on the good things rather than see it as another item on your to-do list can shift perspective to start a gratitude journal. Instead of viewing it as a chore or obligation, it becomes more inspiring as a personal moment or experience.”

Babita Spinelli, licensed psychotherapist and psychoanalyst

6. Remain fully present in the moment as you journal

“Be in the moment by tuning into yourself as you ask the question, ‘What am I grateful for?’ Feel your heart expand as you answer the question. Keep a daily journal writing down what you are grateful for in the morning when you arise, and in the evening before you go to sleep.”

Dr. Elaine Fogel Schneider, certified speech therapist with a doctorate in psychology

7. Reframe your problems by looking at them through a lens of gratitude

“Bedtime is a great time to make a list of all the things you are grateful for because it reframes your day. No matter what challenges and disappointments you’ve faced, making a gratitude list puts your problems in perspective, providing you with a happy mindset that is perfect for blissful sleep.”

Veronica Monet, relationship coach and certified sexologist

8. Consider how gratitude can help your relationships

“Do a life review to identify people who made a difference in your growth, be it relationally, financially, spiritually, physically, emotionally, or socially. Be specific as to their influence. One by one, over time, send each a thank you note for their positive impact in your life.”

Laura Reiter, LCSW, therapist specializing in trauma and post-traumatic stress

9. Quiet your mind with your journaling

“Great power lives in gratitude and it has its greatest impact when you create it for your greatest challenges. In each daily journal entry, note the biggest thing that day that you found the hardest to deal with, could not find peace, with or were challenged by. Close your eyes, quiet your mind, and then seek with your heart for understanding. Opening or releasing what this challenge offers you allows gratefulness to flow through you.”

Leeza Steindorf, certified mediator, coach, and author

10. Let gratitude increase your intimacy

“When starting and keeping a gratitude journal, remember that a core component to having any real intimacy is having gratitude. So if you desire more intimacy in your life, expressing your gratitude daily will contribute to this. Be sure to add those you are grateful for, and desire more intimacy with, in your journal.”

Sacha Fossa, holistic sex coach

11. Being grateful can help make your challenges lighter

“Consider gratitude for your hardships or greatest challenges for what you might not have learned or understood if not for them: I am grateful for ______ hardship/loss/setback, for the revealing to me________, which I would not have otherwise understood. I am grateful that this understanding makes me _______.”

Dr. Perrin Elisha, psychologist, relationship coach and author

12. Use quotes and prompts that inspire you

“One of my favorite prompts for my own gratitude journaling is: ‘I am so happy and grateful now that …’ This affirmation from Bob Proctor, author of ‘The Secret’, is for financial prosperity, but I have also used it to create a positive flow of gratitude and appreciation in all areas of my life.”

Dona Murphy, tarot practitioner and spiritual coach

13. Don’t allow negative emotions to derail you

“You are wired for both positive and negative emotions. Unfortunately, your more hurtful emotions tend to be protective, and even destructive. Gratitude is all about focusing on the positives for your day and your life and a great step is to start a gratitude journal.”

— Rita Demaria, CST, LMFT, MS, PhD, therapist who specializes in relationship education and coaching

14. Journaling can help you learn to honor yourself

“If you’re like me, sometimes the difficulties of the day are just too much to overcome, leaving gratitude far away. When this happens, honor your ‘here and now’ by writing down 5-10 of your biggest gripes. And then write down an equal number of gratitudes — any will do — and you’ll feel happier and more at peace with ‘what is.'”

Ragini Michaels, BA, CHT, NLP, author, hypnotherapist, and mentor specializing in behavioral change

15. Rewrite your perspective

“The practice of gratitude can shift you from perceiving mainly scarcity or lack to seeing abundance everywhere. To start the process, begin each day by writing in your gratitude journal, ‘I live in an abundant universe, and today I am grateful for all the support I receive from (insert five people, situations, things, or qualities that contribute to your wellbeing). Thank you.’ Over time, continue to notice the many ways abundance appears in your life and express your gratitude for it through your new morning ritual.”

Mary Jo Rathgeb, CPC, ELI-MP, spiritual life coach specializing in guiding people through transitions

16. Make a practice of gratitude that your whole family can enjoy

“Each night at dinner share your ‘GTPs’: One thing you’re ‘grateful’ for, one thing you’re ‘thankful’ for, and one thing you’re ‘proud’ of yourself for. As a mom of five, I do this on nights when it’s all seven of us or when it’s just me. Make it a habit and get started.”

Susie Pettit, certified life and cognitive coach

17. Start small and focus on what makes you happy

“Write in your gratitude journal about what made you smile today. Did something work the way you wanted it to? What are you reading, is it noteworthy?”

Diane Quintana, certified professional organizer

18. Practice being grateful daily

“Keep a notebook by your bed. Each evening before sleep, write out three things you are grateful for that day and why. To make it especially powerful make those three things about your partner.”

Sandy Davidson, LISW, counselor and therapist

19. Put your journal where you’re most likely to use it

“Where is the first place you sit down in the morning? Place your gratitude journal on that seat the night before so it’s already waiting for you when you wake up. Make a rule for yourself that journaling comes before any other morning activity.”

Jeffrey Siegel, holistic wellness coach focusing on weight management

20. Remember your experience is in your control

“If I can not fix it, change it, or control it, why am I thinking about it? I know that having gratitude or being grateful has a huge effect on my daily personal experience.”

Michael Gobel, MS, psychologist and therapist

21. Journaling can be cathartic

“Writing a gratitude journal can turn into a mechanical routine. Reflecting on the meaning of daily happenings and events can help to keep the journaling activity beneficial.”

Ellen Patricia, family coach and life counselor

22. Be proud of your accomplishments

“Journal when you wake up and before you go to bed about what you are grateful for. Pay attention to one accomplishment, one person, and one aspect of your own growth to feel grateful for.”

Dr. Foogan Zeine, LMFT, PsyD, psychotherapist and marriage and family expert

23. Routine can be reason enough for gratitude

“Pick three routine aspects of your life. To each, add one gratitude before and one after. After a year, you’ll have 2,190 gratitudes and make rather boring tasks super interesting.”

Veronica Strangio, mental health advocate and coach

24. Use tools that will help you keep your habit

“Start with your intention to write daily, choose a beautiful pen and journal to enter your gratitudes list three new ones daily and plan on showing up at your chosen time of day.”

Ramie Haas, hypnotherapist and Reiki practitioner

25. Make your family the target for gratitude

“Think of one thing that drives you nuts about your kids. Now turn it around and ‘mind-flip’ it. As difficult as this quality is for you, how might it actually be a personality asset to your child once they’re older? When viewed from this perspective, even the daily struggles with your kids can make you feel gratitude, as you learn to trust more in the adults they’re in the process of becoming.”

Abigail Wald, parenting coach and co-host of the Hand in Hand Parenting podcast

26. Remember who makes you feel happy

“Divide your gratitude journal into four parts. When you begin your day, list ten things you’re grateful for. Next, list three challenging situations, people, or other obstacles and what good things you’re learning from them. Then move to a list of five people who made your life a little happier today. Lastly, choose one moment of your day that made you happy and focus on it for five minutes before going to sleep.”

Mary Kay Cocharo, licensed marriage and family therapist

27. Small experiences are mini chances to be grateful

“In 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude through a psychological lens and found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical, and relational well-being. Plus, it impacts your overall experience of happiness, and these effects tend to be long-lasting. Every day write five things you’re grateful for, no matter how simple. Start with what you’ve experienced, such as waking up, breathing, or having a cool glass of water.”

Christine Rose, ACC, certified business coach and author

28. Choose the gratitude journal that’s right for you

“First, go to a store where you can find the best, least expensive journals! Get one you really like and have it as part of your breakfast table decor. Fill it with three gratitudes each morning as you sip your coffee!”

Anna Thea, author and sex educator

29. Don’t be afraid to really think about what you’re grateful for

“In order to keep a gratitude journal you want to not just list what you’re grateful for, but go deeper into the why you’re grateful. Ask yourself, ‘What is most important to me, and why?’ or ‘What makes me feel loved and why?’ Or simply ask yourself, ‘What am I most grateful for today and why?’ Write out five reasons you’re grateful for this person, place, or thing. Do this right before you go to bed as a ritual and you will have a great night’s sleep. Wake up with the same ritual.”

Christy Whitman, energy healer and life management specialist

30. Love is a natural side-effect of gratitude!

“Here are the three secrets to having more passion and love using a gratitude journal. To attract and retain passion and love, use your journal to redirect fear, anger, or sadness to joy as you see what is working in your life! Visualizing with desire and yearning for love is another secret and please remember that every day you must practice gratitude or passion and love will disappear!”

Susan Allen, certified mediator and communications expert

31. Your journal can bring you so much joy

“Do your journaling before you wind down in the evening. Rather than sinking in front of the TV and binge-watching a show, get a cup of tea (or wine!), pick up the journal you’ve placed next to your favorite TV-watching spot, set your timer for ten minutes, and write down as many things as you can remember that went well that day. Once the timer goes off, you’re free to watch as many episodes as your heart desires, and you’ll remember you did some pretty good stuff.”

Melissa Watson-Clark, LCSW-C, social worker and Reiki practitioner

32. Use your favorite quotes to inspire you

“When things feel dark and the last thing you want to do is find goodness in your life, turn to the wisdom of others. Yes, my dear, find a favorite quote on gratitude and write it in your own journal. I especially like the words of researcher Brene Brown, priest Henri Nouwen, poet Rumi, and monk David Steindl-Rast. I find that penning their words by my own hand fills me with a sense of thankfulness and the oft-needed reminder that there is always something good in the world.”

Debra Smouse, life and dating coach and writer

33. Keeping a gratitude journal doesn’t have to take a lot of time

“When it comes to benefiting from keeping a gratitude journal, less is actually often best. One introspective journaling session a week during which you write about the how and why of four-five good things — especially those which surprised you — can be all it takes. The benefit you can reap of learning to look at life through a more positive and hopeful lens is worth the small investment of time.”

— Katherine Mackintosh, national board-certified health and wellness coach

34. Practicing gratitude can help you focus your goals

“Take calculated risks for your own happiness. Shoot for what is attainable, not merely for what is likely or easy.”

Jeff Saperstein, CPC, career coach and teacher

35. Give yourself grace if you fail to keep up your journal

“Set a time and place and create a ritual for your journaling time. This time and place will become sacred and set the tone for your day. If you miss a day, be graceful with yourself and pick up where you left off. Participation, not perfection, is the key to a gratitude full life.”

Alexsys Thompson, BCC, BS, NLP, executive and leadership coach

36. The benefit to your happiness will astound you

“Gratitude journaling can improve health and happiness, particularly if you do a few things that we’ve learned from research. It’s more effective to write seriously a few times a week than to try and eke out something daily. Each time you write, delve deeper into one thing you’re grateful for (instead of listing several), focus more on gratitude toward people than things, and hold the intention that doing this will make you happier.”

— Judith Tutin, ACC, PhD, psychologist and certified life coach

37. Start off with gratitude for your life

“Creating a gratitude list starts with ‘GWTMOAH’ at the top of the page which is short for: ‘God, write through me openly and honestly.’ Begin with ‘I am grateful to be alive, for my eyes to see, for a roof over my head, people in my life.’ The gratitude starts small and can grow, depending how deep you see and feel the blessings vs. seeing only the negative.”

— Linda Salvin, PhD, psychic medium