Use a Gratitude Journal to Boost Your Happiness

UPDATED: December 5, 2023
PUBLISHED: November 24, 2023
Thoughtful Black woman writing in her gratitude journal

A daily gratitude journal helps you record and remember the things you’re grateful for and is a popular practice in positive psychology or the study of human happiness. One of the greatest appeals of keeping a gratitude journal is that it can be as simple or as complex as you like. You can write things down daily, once a week or on any schedule that works for you. You can also use a blank notebook, a gratitude journal with prompts or quotes or even an app on your phone to help spark new ideas and find greater happiness. 

Below, we share some tips and take a look at 10 gratitude journal options to help you get started. 

What is a gratitude journal?

If you’re not familiar, gratitude journaling is the daily practice of writing down a few things you’re grateful. While it might not immediately solve all your problems, keeping a gratitude journal can help you see patterns, which may ultimately lead you to make changes in your life. Spending some time thinking about the good things that happen can help you focus on the positive, even when life is difficult.

Everyone’s journal may look different. Some people incorporate their gratitude journal into a larger journaling habit, while others list a few things they feel grateful for each morning or evening.

Why keep a gratitude journal? 

It might not seem like it would have much practical impact on your quality of life. However, keeping a gratitude journal has the potential to increase positive moods and happiness over time. According to Harvard University, gratitude is strongly associated with being happier. It helps people feel more positive emotions, deal with adversity, improve their health and build strong relationships with family and friends. A 2017 study by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley found that jotting down what you’re grateful for can help improve mental health, both on its own and when done alongside counseling or therapy. 

Keeping a gratitude journal can also be a great way to record life’s big and small moments for future reflection. A lot happens during the day. With a daily or weekly gratitude journaling practice, you may better remember the little things that made you smile. 

Tips for keeping a gratitude journal

The great thing about gratitude journals? There are no rules. You can use an app on your phone, a dedicated journal or an old notebook your kids brought home from school. The most important thing is to write (or type) your observations. Don’t just keep them in your head, promising yourself you’ll remember. 

Below are some tips to make practicing gratitude more effective: 

  • Be as specific as possible. Instead of writing that you’re grateful for dogs, try “I’m grateful for how my dog lies on my feet while I’m working. It’s comforting and makes me feel safe.”
  • Choose people over things. While expressing gratitude for coffee, sunny days or easy rush hour commutes has a place, focus on the people (or animals) who are essential to you. You’ll appreciate (and later remember) the little details and strengthen your bonds. 
  • Savor the unexpected. If something unexpected happened during your day, record it, especially if it made you smile or feel thankful. Memories of a lucky break or a few kind words with a stranger might fade over time. Writing them down helps ensure you remember those grateful feelings. 
  • Find variety. While you’ll likely write about your gratitude for your loved ones repeatedly, focus on different details each time. Instead of saying you’re grateful for your partner, try expressing gratitude for a particular action they did. Maybe they loaded the dishwasher without being asked or they made you laugh by having a dance party with the kids. 
  • Be consistent. You don’t have to write in a gratitude journal daily for it to be effective. What’s important is staying consistent. If you want to write three or five times per week, honor that commitment to yourself and add time in your calendar to remind you. 

10 best gratitude journals

1. Little Daily Thanks by Papier

This brightly colored journal comes packed with five months’ worth of prompts and entries to fill in at your own pace. The Little Daily Thanks journal can be customized and contains space for morning and evening reflections, affirmations, activities and prompts to help you find positive moods, even on a rough day.

2. Gratitude: A Journal by Catherine Price

Catherine Price is a science journalist who has written multiple books that help people build meaningful lives. In this 388-page journal, you have space to write whole paragraphs, create lists or even just jot down a few things that made you smile. This journal has inspirational quotes and prompts scattered through its pages to help inspire your gratitude practice. 

3. The Five Minute Journal

For those who want to practice gratitude but have limited time, this elegant journal comes in multiple colors and prompts you to answer five simple questions (three in the morning and two at night) that take about five minutes. There are also weekly challenges that encourage you to enjoy the simple pleasures and reach beyond your comfort zone. 

4. Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel

This interactive journal is designed to help readers navigate the noise and confusion of daily life and comes in multiple languages. While this isn’t strictly a gratitude journal, it can be used as one and contains prompts and questions to help you appreciate the good things. 

5. 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy by Moorea Seal

People who don’t want to commit to a daily or multiple-times-a-week practice may find this weekly journal helpful. The 52 Lists journal offers a prompt for each week and asks you to reflect on your values, beliefs and the things that bring you joy. The pages are wide-ruled dots, which make it an excellent option for lists or bullet journal entries. 

6. Gratitude Journals by Promptly

This linen-bound spiral journal brings elegance to your gratitude practice. There are seven weekly prompts, and you can answer one question daily or all of them once a week. Each week also has two blank pages for free writing and reflection on the week that just passed. 

7. Clear Habit Journal by James Clear

This habit-tracking journal was developed with Clear’s bestselling book Atomic Habits. While it’s not strictly a gratitude journal, it does have plenty of space to write, create a bullet journal or create a line-a-day gratitude journal. The multipurpose journal also allows you to track habits, brainstorm and jot down ideas—all while keeping everything contained in one notebook. Plus, it includes 16 pages of toolkits to help you use the notebook to its full potential. 

8. A plain notebook

You don’t have to go fancy to create a gratitude journal. Use a spare notebook or incorporate a gratitude habit into your regular journal. If you need inspiration, use a gratitude prompt or play “Rose, Bud, Thorn” in your journal. Go into as much detail as you’d like, and write down something that went well or that you enjoyed that day (rose), something that you want to work on in the future or are looking forward to (bud) and something that didn’t go well or is causing stress (thorn).

9. 365 Gratitude Journal (app)

If you prefer a digital option, an app like 365 Gratitude Journal, available on both Apple and Android devices, can help you keep track of your self-care and focus on the positive. It provides prompts to journal about daily stories for inspiration and affirmations you can carry throughout your day. The app is free to download, but it has a paid subscription to unlock all features. 

10. Delightful: Gratitude Journal (app)

Delightful is available for both Apple and Android devices and is free to use, although it does have some in-app purchases. It allows you to record three good things every day and gives you space to write more if you’d like. Users can set a daily reminder for gratitude journaling, and the app contains prompts and quotes for motivation and inspiration.

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