Give Thanks With A Gratitude Journal

More Than A National Holiday

It comes every November:  Thanksgiving Day.  For many Americans it’s a day to gather with family and friends, stuff yourself on delicious food, and watch football.  Sadly, giving thanks to God is often left off the schedule.

As a Christian, though, it seems kind of strange to dedicate just one day to Thanksgiving.  Think about it:  God is incredibly good to us every day of our lives.  It seems only fitting that part of every day should be spent giving thanks to Him.  It should be a natural part of our daily praise, shouldn’t it?

If you agree but are unsure how to incorporate thanksgiving into your everyday life, you might consider starting a gratitude journal.  Spending just fifteen minutes a day writing in your gratitude journal can do amazing things in your life! Scientific studies have proven that showing thankfulness on a consistent basis makes people happier and healthier. 

It’s easy to start.  Just find a journal or notebook you like and begin!

If writing’s not your thing, don’t worry.  Nobody says you have to use complete sentences or paragraphs.  Your English teacher isn’t looking over your shoulder!  You might just write “Today I’m thankful for” and add some bullet points.  Start easy by naming three things daily.  I’ll bet it won’t be long until your daily list starts expanding!

Benefits Of Being Thankful

There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal.  To begin with, it will keep you focused on the good things that exist in your daily life.  Once you start a gratitude journal, you’ll be “on the lookout” for good things—both big and small. Imagine what your life would be like if you focused on the positive instead of the negative!

Keeping a gratitude journal gives you the chance to think about who and what you really value in life.  Getting clarity on this might in turn lead you to make some necessary life changes, setting you on a better path.

A gratitude journal can also improve your relationships with people around you because you’re looking for things about others to appreciate. It’s easy to find fault, but once you start showing appreciation for the people in your life, your relationships will grow.

A gratitude journal can even help you sleep better.  Focusing on positive things will increase your sense of calmness, reducing stress and enabling you to get a better night’s sleep.

You can think of thankfulness as being a mental and emotional muscle that you’re building with daily exercise.  If things go wrong in life and your gratefulness muscle is weak, you’ll struggle to find a silver lining in those storm clouds.  But if you have an excellent daily gratitude habit, then your gratefulness muscle will be resilient and well-trained, and life’s challenges won’t knock you off course as much.

Thankfulness Tips

Here are some other tips for you to consider as you journal:

Enjoy the Details

It’s easy to write about how much you’re thankful for your home or best friend. The problem? You’ll quickly run out of material or be stuck repeating yourself if you list the same people daily. Instead of talking about the people or things in your life you’re grateful for, dig down into the details about what exactly you love about them. For example, maybe you love how your best friend sat up with you all night when you needed someone to talk to.

Get Into the Moment

Take a minute to center yourself.  Start paying attention to where you are right now emotionally, physically, or even spiritually. Once you’re relaxed, let your mind drift where it will. Look for things to be thankful for. For example, you might hear the sound of wind chimes outside or smell dinner in the oven, which are both things to be grateful for. Write about these things.

Ask Why

If you already have a thankful thought, try digging down a little to find out what about this makes you feel so grateful. Ask why you feel this way, and keep asking why until you find the root. For example, you might be writing about how you’re grateful for chocolate chip cookies and remember you love them because your grandmother always made them for you. Express your gratitude for these ‘buried treasures.’

Change Directions

If you’ve been writing about the same things every day, look for ways to discover gratitude in other areas of your life. Maybe you’ve been focusing on family for a while. If so, try turning toward work, past experiences, or nature for new inspiration.

Do Something Else

If the thoughts aren’t coming, give yourself a break. This isn’t a race. Walk away and do something else for a bit, such as emptying the dishwasher. Let your mind drift through this activity. What about this job can you be grateful for (clean dishes? The time you shared with your family cleaning up the kitchen together after dinner last night? The meal you’re going to eat next on these dishes?) Come back and write about these things.

  Try Different Formats

When most people think of journaling, they think of writing letters to themselves or simply writing sentences about their feelings. But this isn’t the only format you can journal in, and the truth is, it may not be the most effective for you. Consider changing up your journaling format, or better yet, employing more than one format in your journaling. This will make sure you are getting the most out of your journaling time. Other formats when it comes to gratitude journaling can be lists, diagrams, or tables.  You can even get artistic and doodle or draw!

Write Yourself Compliments

In gratitude journaling, people tend to write about all the things or people they are thankful for in their lives. There is nothing wrong with this, but make sure you don’t forget to be thankful for yourself! Write a few things you like about yourself each day as you journal. This way, you can reflect on how your day went and watch your transformation as you become a better version of yourself.  

Don’t Forget The Lessons

No one’s life is perfect, and you may find that sometimes you have days where you make significant mistakes that you are embarrassed by. That’s okay, and may even be something you should be thankful for! Instead of approaching your mistakes as setbacks, include them in your gratitude journal and be grateful for the lesson you have had the opportunity to learn. This will help keep you from making the same mistakes again.

So think about giving a gratitude journal a try.  You’ll probably find it to be a rewarding practice.  And think of how it will please God to have every day be a Thanksgiving day!


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