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How to Start a Gratitude Journal + FREE Gratitude Journal Template

I’m sharing how to start a Gratitude Journal and a free Gratitude Journal template PDF so you can start your own!

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed how easy it is to get into the habit of focusing too much time on the things I don’t like rather than the things I’m thankful for.

And it’s time to stop!

I’ve been keeping a bit of an online gratitude journal in my Instagram stories and everyday gratitude really makes me feel much more positive.

I had considered starting up a 30 days of gratitude challenge – would that be something you would be interested in? Comment below and let me know!

For now, I wanted to talk a bit more about the benefits of gratitude and how much happier I feel now that I practice gratitude.

The Grace Files Journal

What is a Gratitude Journal?

Dr Joann Lukins, Registered Psychologist, defines practicing gratitude and positive thinking with a Gratitude Journal.

“A gratitude journal is a personal record detailing the things (big and little) that you have noticed and appreciated. Research into this area has flourished in recent years and we know that the inclusion of a gratitude log as part of your personal reflection plays a significant contributing role to your overall levels of appreciation, satisfaction and happiness.

People often ask how to practice gratitude and there are a couple of key guidelines we can all follow to easily put keeping a gratitude log into part of our regular wellbeing practice.

Research by Gratitude Researcher Prof Sonja Lyubomirsky strongly advocates for the benefits of incorporating gratitude into your life. Specifically, she recommends recording your gratitude in written form, or you can use an app on your phone. It is thought that journaling your gratitude is a good way to keep you connected to others. This is interesting as the research suggests you don’t even need to express your gratitude to someone else (although that is a great thing to do), but simply thinking about your level of gratitude to another, it increases the bond you have with them. Further, it suggests it strengthens your relationship with them.”

Gratitude Journal Benefits

Dr Lukins adds: “The beauty of gratitude is that it is diametrically opposed to many of the less helpful emotions such as bitterness, resentment, jealousy and anger. Social comparison decreases when we are grateful in the moment for what we have. The benefit of journaling gratitude experiences is beneficial for people of all ages, adults and children.

Even when very young, families can start a gratitude journal for kids. Young children can draw pictures, cut pictures from magazines or use photographs to help them illustrate their own gratitude. One of the schools I work with has children from ages 4-17 years keep gratitude journals in varying forms throughout each year level. The creativity that is adopted to record gratitude is impressive!

The benefit of a journal is it gives you a permanent record that is joyful to re-visit. It is also helpful if you are going through a difficult time, to help remind you of the things that you have appreciated in the past.

Keeping a record of the things for which you are grateful, and savouring those experiences work in two ways on our mental health. Gratitude logs or journals help us to increase our happiness levels and decrease levels fo depression. The effects of gratitude have much longer-lasting effects than other things that affect our wellbeing, such as buying things or binge eating on junk food.”

Dr Joann Lukins spends her day inside the heads of individuals, teams and organizations – seeking to understand what makes them tick and assisting them to reach their potential. A psychological Indiana Jones, she describes it as a truly fascinating career that she is grateful for every day.

She holds a PhD in Psychology, has over 25 years’ experience, and a breadth of knowledge in the sport, organizational and educational domains. She delivers programs in resilience and expert performance for the Australian Defence Force. Dr Lukins has worked with elite athletes and outstanding professionals throughout her career, giving her a unique insight into the world of success. She has been acknowledged as an expert in her field, being awarded an Outstanding Alumni by James Cook University for her achievements. Dr Lukins is sought after as a presenter, interventionist and for her expertise in the media space.  

Knowing that she has made a difference in the lives of others is the ‘why’ of her work and the most satisfying element of her career.

Dr Lukins is releasing her book ‘The Elite: Think like an athlete, succeed like a champion’ in May 2019.

Woman writing in journal

How to Write a Gratitude Journal

Despite hard times, there are always things we can take the time to be thankful and grateful for. Sometimes the things to be grateful for in life are those small things we take for granted.

I’ll give you some examples of those in this post and tips on how to write a gratitude list.

Taking some time to think mindfully about the good things in our lives can benefit us in so many ways.

How to Make a Gratitude Journal that works for you

How to keep a gratitude journal will come down to what works for your lifestyle and what you’re most likely to stick at.

Related: How to Remember to Use a Planner

You can start your own daily gratitude journal in:

I like to list my ‘thankful for list’ on Instagram, as mentioned above, and also often in my planner. (I use an Erin Condren LifePlanner, if you’re interested!)

I know others who have created a gratitude bullet journal and use it as a creative outlet as well as a thankful journal.

Using it might be as simple as thinking “today I am grateful for…” and writing down the first things that come into your mind.

If you don’t use a planner, why not grab an unused notebook and turn it into a Gratitude Notebook, dedicated to happy and grateful thoughts!

If you’re using my favourite FriXion pens, or an erasable pen or pencil, you can amend your list at any time too.

You can buy Frixion pens online here.

You can choose whether to record your thankful thoughts in the morning, as they come to you or at the end of the day. Taking the time for morning gratitude can set you up for a really positive day!

If you’re not sure where to start, you might like to try out these free Gratitude Stickers:

These Free Printable Gratitude List Stickers will help you decorate your Erin Condren LifePlanner or other planners and stay super positive, thankful and grateful! Create a DIY gratitude journal or happiness journal. #digitalstickers #freeprintables #printableplannerstickers #freesplannerstickers #plannerstickers #freestickers #gratitude #gratitudejournal #gratitudebulletjournal #gratitudediary #gratitudelist
Free Printable Gratitude List Stickers

These thankful stickers can act as daily grateful journal prompts to remind you to take a moment to list out the three (or more!) things you’re grateful for that day.

Sometimes, in the busy-ness of life, we need gratitude prompts to bring us back in the moment and be more mindful of the good stuff that’s happening in our lives.

You can also download my free Gratitude List PDF Template:

This gratitude journal printable is completely free and you can choose to use it whenever you want to spend more time being grateful or get into the habit of using it every day.

Related: 100 Habit Trackers Ideas + Free Habit Tracker Printable

Gratitude Journal Ideas

As much as I can’t tell you what you should be feeling gratitude for, here are some gratitude list examples that you might like to consider thinking about:

  • good health
  • something funny your kids said or did
  • a ‘win’ at work
  • hitting an exercise or health-related goal
  • appreciating nature
  • an unexpected meeting with an old friend
  • a random act of kindness from someone
  • no. of days sober – such as an AA gratitude list if you’re in the program

Of course, there are so many possibilities for a grateful list of things to be thankful for. We all have completely different goals and priorities, right?

My things to be thankful for list might be totally different to yours. These are just a handful of ideas for your grateful diary.

In the daily gratitude list template I created, you could add to it every day until you have a huge, positive list. Or you could print off a new gratitude list pdf every day to start afresh.

A few of you have asked for me to add free printable daily journal pages to my resource library. I’ll keep adding more gratitude printables in time.

I hope my tips on gratitude ideas and how to do a gratitude journal has helped and inspired you to spend some more time on the good stuff in your life!

There are so many wonderful things to be grateful for daily and keeping a gratitude journal can be so beneficial. I would love for you to share some of your gratitude list ideas with me in the Comments below.

Your Free Gratitude Journal

You can grab your free gratitude journal pdf here and create your own DIY gratitude journal:

This gratitude journal template download is simple and you can decorate it to make it more personalised to you.

What does gratitude mean to you? Do you already keep a happiness diary?

I would love to know what you think is the best gratitude journal.

And do you have any other recommendations for gratitude activities as other than keeping a happiness journal?

Do let me know if you’re interested in joining a 30 days gratitude challenge with me!

Check out my Weekly Gratitude Tracker here and the rest of my free planner printables here.

Read next:


Great tips on how to start a Gratitude Journal plus Free Printable Gratitude List Stickers and gratitude journal template to help you stay super positive, thankful and grateful! Create a DIY gratitude journal or happiness journal. #digitalstickers #freeprintables #printableplannerstickers #freesplannerstickers #plannerstickers #freestickers #gratitude #gratitudejournal #gratitudebulletjournal #gratitudediary #gratitudelist #gratitudejournaltemplate

I hope these tips on how to start a Gratitude Journal have helped you! Originally published on 21/03/19.



  1. Dr Jo Lukins
    / 9:27 am

    Great to hear you are keeping a journal Alexandra – there is so much value from doing so.
    The opportunity to revisit allows us to ‘savour’ our memories and moments of gratitude. There is evidence to show how helpful that can be, so your strategies are just as the science would recommend!! Happy journalling! Jo

  2. / 9:18 pm

    Yay, gratitude journals! I’ve been really enjoying keeping my gratitude journal this year. My baby boy features quite regularly, but I’ve also reflected on things like how thankful I am that all my senses work well, that I have a nice home to live in, and that we live in a world with books.
    I really liked Dr Lukins’ point that, when a gratitude list is written down, you can go back and revisit past entries. Especially during times when, for whatever reason, you might be finding it hard to call to mind things to be grateful for.

    • / 2:57 pm

      I love that too – and with my bad memory it helps to have those moments recorded somewhere :) x

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