Journaling has been a powerful tool for self-discovery and growth throughout the course of my life. I grew up in a home where journaling and self-expression were encouraged. I had an English teacher in 8th grade require daily journaling as part of our class. Hell, my health coach training program incorporated daily free-writing (a la Morning Pages) as part of our coursework.
I’ve journaled when it was just me, and I’ve even managed to journal daily with two businesses to run and a toddler who thinks that 4:55 AM is a perfectly acceptable time to wake up for the day. I’ve probably considered every single reason why I wouldn’t be able to take on such a task.
Wherever life has taken me, I’ve always found my way back to the pages of my journal. Because I know that when I’m able to sit down and write, I FEEL the difference. I have incredible a-ha moments, insights a-plenty, excitement, newfound energy, and am way more grounded.
And then, I found gratitude journaling.
It literally turned my entire world around. First, through the experience of keeping a Miracle Journal based on the ideas found in Melody Beattie’s book, Make Miracles in Forty Days*. A few years later, I stumbled upon another life-changing book called Thank & Grow Rich* by Pam Grout. I spent the better part of a week writing down 100 things each day that I was grateful for.
Each experience cracked me open and helped me connect more deeply with myself and the world around me. Which is why I wanted to create a way for others to experience the joys of journaling and a daily gratitude practice. Consider this the best of both worlds, as each prompt will help you explore a different facet of your life and beliefs, all while expressing a little gratitude for it all.
Before we get into the prompts, I wanted to share some tips for making this experience as enjoyable as possible. The prompts are meant to be simple, fun, and enlightening. No one else is going to read what you’ve written, so please don’t get caught up in making it perfect (whatever that means). You can make a bulleted list, write 2-3 sentences, or spend 30+ minutes writing.
The key here is to create a ritual of daily writing and reflecting that works FOR YOU.
All I ask is that you stick with it for the next 30 days (or weeks), and to be gentle with yourself for the things you are uncovering. Some of these prompts have the ability to bring up difficult memories and strong emotions. It’s totally normal, and an opportunity for you to see where you need to do some work to heal.
Before you dive into the writing, there are a few things that I would recommend doing. They will help you to set you up for success.
- Choose a journal. I know. It’s pretty obvious, but this step trips up a LOT of people. A few questions to ask yourself when picking your journal: Lined or blank? Fancy or plain? Used or brand new? There is no right answer here, just a matter of preference. Regardless of what you choose, make sure that it’s a physical journal and not a document on your computer or phone. There is something so powerful about putting pen to paper and writing.
- Pick a time of day to write. This is probably THE most critical aspect of maintaining a regular journaling practice; one that can make or break your success. When in your day (or week) will you commit to carving out 15-20 minutes to write? Mornings? On your lunch break? At night before bed? Something else altogether? Whatever you decide, make sure to block it off in your calendar and set it up as a recurring appointment.
- Tell a friend. Accountability is a really great motivating factor. It can also be a great way to have some company along the way, or someone to talk to when things come up or you struggle to keep with it. So, tell a friend about what you’re doing and encourage them to come along for the ride.
- Set an intention. Before you get started with your journaling (or any new habit for that matter) I encourage you to write down your intention for the course of your journaling. One of the most powerful components of Melody Beattie’s Make Miracles in Forty Days*was the intention you set for yourself at the beginning. It was an anchor point for all of the work we did. I’m asking you to do the same. Because I really want you to get everything you can out of this experience and open up more ease, excitement, and joy in your life. It’s possible. And this is a powerful step in that direction.
About the prompts…
Something I hear time and again from people who are interested in developing a regular journaling practice but have yet to be able to stick with it on a regular basis is that they have no idea what to write about. That’s where the daily prompts come into play. They are designed to get you thinking so that you can get in the habit of writing.
Before you get started, I would suggest setting a timer for 10-15 minutes. That way, your writing has a specific end-point and will feel less overwhelming in the beginning. Once you’ve done that, feel free to write down, doodle, sketch, or draw everything you are grateful for around each word or theme. It could be people, situations, the way it makes you feel … Everything is fair game! And if you’re still feeling the groove when the timer sounds, feel free to keep it going.
Also, if a prompt doesn’t resonate with you, or if there is something else you’ve been wanting to explore, go for it! My only advice here: don’t avoid the difficult ones because you’re afraid of what they will bring up. Those are precisely the ones you need to sit with and explore.
And now …
DRUMROLL PLEASE …
The big 3-Oh.
Here are 30 prompts to help you explore your life through the lens of gratitude. Some of the prompts may not seem obvious at first, but I promise if you sit with them, you’ll be able to find times in your life that you’ve been grateful for each. (#3 has been a particularly powerful teacher in my life.)
- Your body
I know I said 30 prompts, but I’ve never been very good at sticking to things like that. So here are 10 BONUS prompts that you can either continue on with or swap out for others if you’re needing an extra boost of motivation.