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Many people find journaling a great way to process feelings in a positive way. The benefits of keeping a gratitude journal aren’t instant; rather they happen over time. Journaling with an attitude of gratitude may help you put away negative thoughts and experiences and build patience, humility, and wisdom as you shift from toxic emotions.

When we journal about what we’re grateful for, we often find our thoughts focused on people instead of things. Take time to savor your thoughts instead of rushing.

Here are some tips to get the biggest rewards from journaling:

  • Don’t be superficial. Write with sincerity and detail your blessings.  
  • Be motivated to be happier. Don’t just go through the motions; make a conscious decision to be content where you are at this moment in time.
  • Get personal and focus on people, not things.
  • Cherish surprises. Record occasions that were special and memorable.
  • Don’t overdo it. Journaling once or twice a week is recommended as you begin. 

Need help getting started? Consider starting with these topics:

  • What is a recent accomplishment?
  • What is something new you learned today?
  • What is a silly moment you had today?
  • Identify a family tradition you like and what it means to you.
  • Who are you grateful for and why?
  • What do you like about the current season?
  • Who or what made you smile today and why?

Keep in mind, it’s not about having an expensive journal. All you need is pen and paper or computer. Remember, no one is grading the journal or checking for spelling or proper use of grammar. Your journal is an aid to your overall wellbeing. Build on what works for you.

To learn more about gratitude journaling, check out these references:

American Psychological Association, April 9, 2015 “A Grateful Heart is a Healthier Heart” by Mill, Paul J.

Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, June 6, 2017 “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain” by Wong, Joel; Brown, Joshua

Positive Psychology, November 11, 2020. “14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science" by Miller, Kori D.