Start Your Gratitude Journey with 25 Effective Journal Prompts
Gratitude journaling is about giving thanks to the aspects of your life that make you feel alive. It's about spreading positivity, and focusing on the issues that matter most to you.
Even though it may sound like pseudoscience, there are plenty of studies that prove that practicing gratitude has a plethora of benefits. For example, a 2014 study concluded that grateful people tend to be more physically healthy. Other scientific research shows that those who perform gratitude exercises have better emotional health, improved confidence, and more meaningful relationships. What's not to love about that?
Sometimes though, it may be challenging to write down three things you are grateful for every day since your entries may start to get repetitive after a while. That's why we've put together a little guide to nudge you in the right direction.
Give thanks and spread some love with these 25 useful prompts to get you started on your journey toward happiness. We'll not only provide the question, but we will elaborate on why each one will be effective.
1. Write about one happy memory.
We often dwell on the negative emotions in our lives, letting them twist and turn into thought patterns that derail us from our goals and desires. Instead of drowning in the memory of unwanted feelings, consider remembering the positive ones. Write about one happy memory, no matter how big or small. It doesn't have to be life-changing, but the process of writing this activity will pave a path of positivity for the rest of your day.
2. Who's someone that makes you feel proud?
Being proud of someone gives us a sense of importance. This type of relationship allows us to look at said person and understand that their journey sparked positivity within you. It's hard to grasp, but easy to feel. Still, it would help if you were careful that your pride does not transform into hubris. Being proud is not about you at all; it's about acceptance of others for their journey and accomplishments.
3. What's something you have now that you are grateful for, which you didn't have last year?
Our world is continually shifting, and sometimes we forget to appreciate the good things in our lives until it's too late. Other times, we realize that even a small change in our lives can mean a world of difference. Therefore, think back to one year ago: what's something you feel grateful for now that you didn't have then? Maybe it's a growing friendship or a simple gadget. In my case, it's air conditioning. Sure, it sounds like I came from a third-world country, but it's true: I just recently got an air conditioning window unit. Seriously, how did I survive the summer before?
4. What's something you're looking forward to soon?
Mindfulness is more than just living in the present, but living intentionally in the present to work toward future goals. By writing about what you are looking forward to in the future, you'll be able to refocus your priorities today. For example, if you want to go on a solo trip to Europe, maybe that extra hour-or-two at the end of the day could be spent making more money or learning a new language, rather than watching a mind-numbing show on Netflix.
5. What little pleasure in life makes you grateful?
The age-old advice of "appreciate the little things" may sound unachievable, but there is genuine science behind it. Researchers have discovered that pure pleasure - brief daily experiences associated with positive feelings - are necessary for the better pursuit of our goals. On days where study participants encountered more simple pleasures, they were more inclined to be focused on their purpose. On days they didn't, they were more likely to succumb to distractions that threw them off track. So, to better achieve your goals, you should probably understand which simple pleasures you are grateful for in your daily life.
6. How do you feel when you help others?
The short answer should be "happy," but they are a wide range of emotions that come from helping others. On the positive side, you may feel a sense of connection and oneness with the world, a real compassion and empathy for those in need. On the other hand, you may get a little annoyed with helping others, and that's okay. In the end, it's the people who you support that will be grateful for you, and understanding this will provide immense benefits. Plus, it's just good karma.
7. What places do you feel thankful for that you have visited?
Inspiration comes in many different forms, and if you are a traveler, there is always that one foreign place that still feels like home. For me, that place is Iceland. The picturesque landscape is only second to the warmness of the people. Say thank you to your favorite place and remember the feelings that it evoked when you first laid eyes on it.
8. What's one song that you are grateful for, and how has it changed you?
Music has a special place in many of our hearts. We associate melodies with milestones in our life, whether it's an emo or phase through middle school or an indie rock obsession in high school. These tunes are unique to us and evoke a wide array of emotions. By giving thanks to the music that has shaped your life, you'll feel nostalgic for the good times and learn to appreciate the bad times as well.
9. What possession worth under $30 makes your life easier?
Money isn't everything, but it is something. Still, there's nothing better than finding an inexpensive item that makes your life ten times easier. Maybe it's something as simple as a coffee mug, or for me, I have a $10 pen that I love. The item should be something that has personal meaning to you. Although it may be cheap, it could also be considered priceless.
10. Who was your favorite teacher in school, and why?
Teachers and mentors are ever-so-important in our lives as they often lift the veil on our potentials and give us a chance to see what we can truly become. Not only do they provide us with knowledge and wisdom, but there is an unspoken sense of self-confidence that they bring to the table. Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg. Warren Buffet helped to guide Bill Gates. Even Socrates mentored Plato, who taught Aristotle. Who was your favorite teacher, and what lasting effect did they have on you?
11. What book did you read that had the most impact on your life?
Individual books have a particular way of connecting with us on a personal level. We attach ourselves to characters as they journey through a fantastical world, and relate their struggles to our own. The language and prose may seem elegant and thought-provoking as well. Whether it's a fictional tale of heroism or a well-written self-help book, you should express your gratefulness for your favorite piece of literature.
12. What's your favorite piece of furniture and describe it?
Ah, there's nothing better than the perfect mattress after a long day. Or, for some, it could be that unique chair that was crafted by their grandfather. There is something beautiful about furniture since it melds the worlds of aesthetics, pleasure, art, and practicality. By showing gratitude to your favorite piece of furniture, you'll begin to understand its real purpose and meaning in your life. It may just be a comfy chair that you use to unwind or a simple desk lamp that, when switched on, means it's productivity time.
13. What's something - however small - that you accomplished yesterday?
As humans, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of our daily life: the stressful commute, the boring meeting, or even the stupid relationship fight. In reality, these ridiculous events mean nothing and should hold less weight in our minds. To do this, you should focus on the little daily accomplishments rather than the day-to-day hassles. Think small to achieve big.
14. What's your favorite holiday (or tradition), and why?
There is a childlike magic to specific holidays. Although much of the time, these holidays and traditions that often go overlooked, since our lives tend to be chaotic. It's important to understand that these traditions exude peace and clarity, not from the ritual itself, but the people. Thanksgiving is an excellent example since you are giving thanks for one another, eating a hearty meal, and spending quality time with your loved ones. Still, it would help if you didn't have to wait until the turkey cooks to be grateful for it.
15. What piece of clothing are you grateful for wearing?
In our consumerist society, one thing we often take for granted is our clothes. They become tattered, muddied, and worn, and when their cycle is up, get tossed to the side. It's essential to give thanks to your clothes since they protect your body, and also make you feel good. There is always that one piece of clothing that when you throw it on, you feel terrific. If you show your gratitude for this item, you'll not only gain a greater appreciation for it, but you'll also understand your style even more.
16. What do you like about your job?
We always bitch and moan about our jobs. It's pretty much ingrained in our society. Rather than looking at the negative aspects of your career, it may be time to look at the positive aspects. Maybe you like your schedule, or your coworkers are fantastic. By taking a positive look at your job, you'll most likely be less stressed out about it. The work still needs to get done, so why not do it with a smile on your face?
17. What unique skill do you possess?
I don't care who you are: everyone has a unique skill. Maybe you have crazy dexterity with your feet, or you can recite the alphabet backward; it doesn't matter how big or small. Having these little quips and skills allows you to be unique, and that is undoubtedly something that should make you feel thankful.
18. What mistake or failure are you most grateful for experiencing?
Author Truman Capote once said: "Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor." The truth is that we cannot appreciate our successes in life if we don't understand our failure. Through these troubling times, we tend to look within and understand ourselves more. If you learn to give thanks for the losses, then you'll become more productive and thankful for the victories.
19. What is it about your favorite hobby, and why?
Our hobbies are not just enjoyable activities that we use to kill time. Engaging in them is a great stress relief tool. It provides a productive outlet for your creativity and passion. Honestly, if it wasn't for hobbies, I'm sure many of us would go crazy from the unfortunately chaotic world that we live. So, show your hobby some love and make sure to dig deep. Maybe you'll even find some inspiration that could turn your much-loved hobby into a lucrative career.
20. What made you smile in the past week?
Smiling is not only a result of happiness, but can also be the cause. As research has shown, forcing yourself to smile tricks the body into producing oxytocin and other love-inducing hormones. Instead of forcing yourself to smile all the time, you should take stock of the little things that make you smile. For me, in the last week, I smiled because there was a beautiful woodpecker that I had never seen before hanging out in the backyard.
21. Describe each one of your five senses using three words.
The idea of mindfulness is about living in the present and analyzing reality from an objective point of view, untainted from emotions. The best way to do this is by understanding your senses and how they interact with the world. The key is to show gratitude toward your perception so that you know its true meaning. These are the tools that have helped you navigate through life, and should be appreciated much, much more.
22. What is your favorite part of each day?
We tend to lose sight of the little moments throughout the day when we are drowning with work. If you look back on each day, there's always some small part of it that gives you solace. For me, it's when I get home, and my dogs act like they haven't seen me in a year. It's a fleeting feeling of happiness since, for them, I have a sense of importance (which I often don't get in other aspects of my life). By elaborating on your favorite moments throughout your day, you'll begin to be more grateful for your life, and thus, become happier.
23. Which TV show are you most grateful for watching?
There has always been an underlying haze of laziness associated with television, yet that's not the case. Just because you kick back and re-watch The Office for the sixth time, does not mean you are unproductive. Watching television is an excellent form of self-care, as it allows your mind to reset and destress. Give thanks to your favorite television show in your gratitude journal, and you'll understand the real power that it brings.
24. Describe a perfect day.
Many of us tend to dwell in both the positive and negative aspects of the past, but we should be more future-oriented to achieve our goals. One way to focus your intentions on the future is to describe your perfect day. You'll begin to see patterns and recognize your "why" for certain activities. Once you've crafted this day, you can shift your current behaviors to make this day more achievable.
25. List 10 qualities that you would use to describe yourself.
If you are on a legitimate dating site not filled with sexual innuendo, puns, and scammers, what ten qualities would you list so that someone would swipe right. They can be generic traits, like loving, caring, compassionate, etc. Or, you could go the unique route, like snorts while laughing, has conversations with animals, obsessed with anime, etc. The key is to make these traits yours, and yours only. If you do it right, your close friends should be able to guess you from this list of qualities.
YOUR JOURNEY - YOUR JOURNAL
Each gratitude journal prompt may have significance that you can only discover. Each item, person, or experience will hold a special place in your heart. The important part of gratitude journaling is to make it a habit. It comes with practice and sometimes can even be confusing. Still, the benefits are immense.
If you don't know where to start your gratitude journey, we've got the perfect journal for you: The Bro Journal. We've crafted a 60-day guided journal that focuses on mindfulness and gratitude. It has tons of activities, prompts, and self-reflection, so that you can better yourself. Discover what we have to offer at The Bro Journal, or buy one for yourself!