Gratitude is the cornerstone of happiness. With gratitude, we appreciate all that we have. We feel fortunate for our blessings, and that sentiment carries over into our daily lives.
Without gratitude for our blessings, we constantly seek more but are rarely satisfied. In this article, we’ve included a list of gratitude journal prompts to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your daily life and increase your overall life satisfaction.
Gratitude journaling is one of the most effective ways to shift your mindset away from negative thinking patterns and towards a sense of appreciation for the short, beautiful life you’ve been given.
Adhering to daily practice can significantly affect how you feel each day. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to start practicing gratitude, and you may find that the more you practice, the more you want to practice.
So, get out your favorite journal and pen and use any of the prompts below that resonate with you. You can choose one prompt on which to focus for the day or two to three if you have more time.
If you want to alter a particular prompt to suit your style, go ahead!
30+ gratitude journal prompts
Below you will find over 30 journal prompts to help cultivate and practice gratitude.
Setting aside time each day or at least a few times a week to sit down and use these gratitude writing prompts in your journal is wise.
You may notice some benefits from day one, but you’ll see the most incredible benefits from consistent daily practice.
Miscellaneous gratitude prompts
- Write about one event in the past week that made you feel fortunate.
- Write about three things in your daily life that make you happy.
- Write about an eye-opening conversation you had with someone, friend, family member, or stranger, that resonated with you.
- What makes you smile? List five things.
- What is the most valuable life lesson you have ever learned?
- What is your favorite place? It could be a coffee shop, a city, a country, or simply a room in your house. What is about that palace that lifts your mood?
- Write about a time when you felt immense joy. What happened? What factors contributed to that feeling?
- List three ways in which you can help someone this week. Think about supporting the same person or helping three different people. These don’t need to be big tasks – helping may mean reaching out to a friend to ask how they are or offering to carry an older person’s groceries to their car.
- What are you looking forward to today? Name three things, even small things such as a coffee, going to your favorite coffee shop, or seeing your best friend.
- Take a walk in nature and bring your attention to the natural beauty surrounding you. Notice three elements of nature, the trees, flowers, and the open sky, and write about how much you appreciate them.
Gratitude prompts for relationships
- Think about someone who has helped you in your personal life. In what way did they help you?
- What makes your best friend your best friend? What about that friendship makes you feel grateful for having that person in your life?
- What valuable lessons did you learn from your parents, directly or indirectly?
- If you have a romantic partner, what aspects or qualities of that person do you most admire? In what ways does that person improve your life?
- Think about someone that gets on your nerves. Think about ways to shift your perspective and learn to appreciate that person. What are their positive qualities? If their behavior annoys you, what do you think causes that behavior? What would change if you knew that their behavior is a coping mechanism?
- Think about someone who opened your eyes to what love means. In what ways did they show you love, and what lessons did they teach you?
- Who do you most admire in your life? What qualities does that person possess that make you admire them? In what ways could you add those qualities to your own life?
Gratitude prompts for self-esteem
- What aspects of yourself do you appreciate?
- Write about a positive memory.
- What small habits could you cultivate to make your life easier? List at least three things. Consider things like waking up earlier, drinking more water, or organizing your time with a planner.
- What habits or behaviors do you have that you’d like to let go of? What skills do you already possess that can help you overcome that habit?
- In what ways do you try to help others when they’re struggling? Think of a friend going through a hard time or a stranger on the street.
- If you’re single, what do you enjoy about being single? List at least three things.
- What risks have you taken in your life that have led to a better quality of life? How did you feel before taking those risks? And how did they improve your life?
- What aspects of yourself do you appreciate?
- What’s your favorite physical feature?
Gratitude prompts for emotional resilience
- Think about a challenge you currently face. What small step or action can you take to help you overcome it?
- Think about your professional life. What aspects of your job or career do you appreciate the most? What are your biggest challenges in that area, and what could you do to help yourself overcome those challenges?
- What calms you down when you feel stressed? Why do you think it helps you feel calm? Try to focus on healthy behaviors rather than unhealthy ones.
- What life lesson are you grateful for? One that, if you hadn’t learned it, may have led to a different life altogether.
- Think about a time in your life when you struggled. Compare that time to your life today and write about how you feel better than you did then.
- Consider and write about how the most challenging times in your life led you to develop strength and resilience.
How to keep a gratitude journal
Renowned gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons posits that gratitude happens in three stages.
- Cognitive recognition of a benefit
- Intentionally acknowledging that benefit
- A sense of appreciation for both benefit and source
When using the gratitude journal ideas above, consider the three aspects outlined by Emmons. Consideration of each element as you write will help you retain that deep-felt sense of appreciation.
The science of gratitude
Beyond the emotional well-being offered by a simple gratitude journaling practice, several researchers have consistently found that cultivating gratitude improves many areas of life, including our professional, physical, social, and spiritual lives.
Gratitude and mental health
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues worldwide.
Even if you don’t struggle daily, everyone experiences these feelings at some point in their lives.
Several studies have found that gratitude journaling and other gratitude practices can significantly reduce the severity of associated symptoms.
Gratitude and physical health
Gratitude has been shown time and again to reduce stress.
Prolonged stress is toxic to the body and can lead to physical health issues, from chronic pain and inflammation to poor sleep to a weakened immune system.
Gratitude journaling and gratitude generally decrease your risk of physical health issues by reducing the level of toxic stress in the body.
One study even found that heart failure patients who practiced gratitude journaling experienced a reduction in inflammation and improved survival rates.
Gratitude and relationship health
Research on gratitude in relationships found that partners who cultivate and express gratitude to each other experience a stronger bond and longer-lasting relationships.
Partners who express and receive sentiments of gratitude not only experience a stronger bond but become more responsive and committed to each other’s well-being.
Gratitude and workplace well-being
In the workplace, cultivation and practice of gratitude lead to higher job satisfaction, healthier professional relationships, increased workplace motivation, greater overall productivity, and increased organizational success.
Benefits of gratitude
Overall, extensive research on gratitude highlights many benefits, including:
- Improved relationship health
- Improved physical health
- Greater emotional resilience
- Reduced stress
- Reduced severity of mental health symptoms
- Improved emotional health
- Higher levels of empathy
- Improved sleep
- Increased self-esteem
Why does gratitude journaling work?
Improving your life through gratitude journaling may sound too simple to be true.
One may wonder, ‘how can writing about gratitude improve my life in a practical way?’
Think about it this way – we spend each moment of our day thinking about something.
There are always judgments, perceptions, opinions, and preferences happening in mind to a greater or lesser degree. Without awareness, it’s easy for our inner experience, our inner dialogue, to take a negative spin, especially in today’s world.
Taking just a few moments each day or a couple of times a week to cultivate a positive, appreciative perspective sets your mind in an upward, growth-oriented spiral that echoes through the rest of your day.
The more you practice, the more traction is gained in that upward spiral.
One of the reasons gratitude journaling has such a profound positive impact on the mind and our state is how the brain works.
A property of the brain called neuroplasticity allows it to reshape and reform throughout our lives based on repeated behaviors and thought patterns.
A simple way to understand neuroplasticity is that neurons (chemical messengers in the brain) that fire together, wire together.
So, the more we think with a positive, grateful perspective and practice healthy behaviors, the associated neurons form stronger pathways and respond with more ease in the future. The same applies to negative thinking and behaviors.
Even if you’re cynical now, why not try gratitude journaling for just a week?
At worst, it will remind you of things for which you are grateful and lift your mood, and that’s a valuable way to spend your time. It may lift you out of a negative cycle you’ve been stuck in for a while now or even shift your entire life perspective.
Journaling is a great way to begin cultivating gratitude and is a tool you’ll use again and again on your gratitude journey.
You may soon notice that gratitude, when consistently practiced, is self-perpetuating. It evokes the same feeling as the feeling of gratitude itself.
Save these daily gratitude journals prompts to use whenever you begin journaling or free flow write from how you feel on a given day.