Inside and Out: How Gratitude Journaling Really Works

Inside and Out: How Gratitude Journaling Really Works

Master the Art of Gratitude Journaling for Lasting Positivity

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can have a significant impact on our lives. When we consciously focus on the good things and people around us, it can lead to profound effects on our well-being and relationships. A gratitude journal is a simple yet effective tool to help us develop a greater appreciation for the positive aspects of our lives.

Why You Should Try Gratitude Journaling

Health benefits

According to one study1, gratitude journaling can have direct well-being benefits. But... not necessarily health benefits. However, another study2 found that a yoga and body gratitude journaling intervention can enhance positivity in higher weight college women. Another study found that online guided group journaling can provide a buffer from depression4. And all that's just studies focused on journaling...

Gratitude is a whole subject of study in itself. Gratitude is associated with better physical and mental health parameters, both in healthy and sick populations3. Gratitude is linked to the medial prefrontal cortex and the neuropeptide oxytocin3, affectionately known as the 'cuddle hormone'.

Gratitude can be expressed in various ways, such as through a gratitude journal or a gratitude letter3. Given the potential benefits of gratitude interventions, further research on this topic is warranted3.

Happiness benefits

In addition to health benefits, practicing gratitude has been shown to increase happiness levels. By focusing on the good in our lives, we can train our minds to be more positive and optimistic, leading to greater overall life satisfaction.

Time Required for Gratitude Journaling

There is no universally agreed-upon frequency for practicing gratitude journaling in the literature1. One study instructed participants to write 10 things for which they were grateful once a week for five weeks2. Another study suggests that we should consider celebrations of gratitude once a day1. So even scientists aren't set on a fixed time for gratitude journaling benefits.

How to Start a Gratitude Journal

The importance of a physical record

Keeping a physical record of your gratitude is essential. Avoid doing this exercise only in your head. By writing down the things you're grateful for, you make them more tangible and real.

Choosing what to be grateful for

When starting your gratitude journal, list up to five things you're grateful for each day. These can range from small, everyday occurrences to more significant events or people in your life. The goal is to remember positive experiences and savor the good emotions they bring.

Nine Tips for Effective Gratitude Journaling

  1. Be specific: Being specific in your gratitude entries makes them more powerful. For example, "I'm grateful my co-workers brought me soup when I was sick on Tuesday" is more effective than "I'm grateful for my co-workers."
  2. Go for depth over breadth: Elaborating in detail about a particular person or thing you're grateful for is more beneficial than listing many superficial items.
  3. Get personal: Focusing on people you're grateful for has a more significant impact than focusing on material possessions or circumstances.
  4. Try subtraction, not just addition: Reflect on how your life would be without certain people or experiences. This can help you appreciate their presence even more and prevent you from taking them for granted.
  5. See good things as "gifts": Treating positive aspects of your life as gifts can help you savor them more deeply and guard against complacency.
  6. Savor surprises: Record unexpected or surprising events in your gratitude journal, as they often elicit stronger feelings of gratitude.
  7. Revise if you repeat: It's okay to write about the same people or things, but try to explore different aspects or details each time.
  8. Write regularly: Establish a consistent schedule for your gratitude journaling, whether daily or every other day, and stick to it.
  9. Honor your commitment: Treat your gratitude journaling practice as a commitment to yourself and your well-being. Consistency is key to reaping the benefits.

Evidence Gratitude Journaling Works

Study findings

Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that people who wrote in a gratitude journal weekly for 10 weeks or daily for two weeks experienced increased gratitude, positive moods, optimism about the future, and better sleep compared to those who journaled about daily hassles or neutral events.

Gratitude journaling across cultures

Gratitude journaling has been shown to benefit people from various cultural backgrounds, including Brazilian, Polish, Turkish, New Zealand, Malaysian, and American participants. These studies suggest that the practice of gratitude journaling can have universal benefits.

Why You Should Try Gratitude Journaling

Shifting focus from negative to positive events

It's important to learn from and analyze negative events in our lives. However, we often spend too much time dwelling on what goes wrong and not enough time appreciating what goes right. Gratitude journaling helps us refocus our attention on the positive aspects of our lives.

The power of writing down gratitude

Research indicates that translating thoughts into concrete language makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact. Writing about our gratitude helps us internalize these positive experiences and emotions more effectively.


Gratitude journaling is a simple yet powerful practice that can significantly improve our mental and emotional well-being. By regularly expressing gratitude for the good things and people in our lives, we can cultivate a more positive outlook, strengthen our relationships, and enhance our overall happiness. By following the tips and guidelines presented in this article, you can begin your own gratitude journaling journey and experience the transformative power of gratitude.

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The amount of time to spend on gratitude journaling each day can vary depending on personal preference and schedule. Some people spend about 15 minutes each day writing about one thing they are grateful for, which is a good practice for morning journaling. Others prefer to spend just 5 minutes each day or week.

The physical format of the journal is not as important as how you use it. The goal is to contribute something meaningful each day and to focus on the positive aspects of life.

Gratitude journaling can be most important on the most difficult days, and it is important to push aside negativity and focus on simple things that bring joy. Gratitude journaling only takes a few minutes a day, but it can give long-term benefits.

Yes, you can use digital tools like smartphone apps or word processors, but it's important to ensure you have a consistent and dedicated space for your journaling.

It is okay to write about the same things repeatedly in your gratitude journal, but it is important to avoid repetition to keep the practice fresh and extend the effectiveness of gratitude journaling. Writing about the same things repeatedly can make the practice feel repetitive and boring.

The benefits of gratitude journaling can be felt early on, but some research suggests that the benefits become significant after a month of journaling and increase over time. Though you may start feeling the effects of keeping your gratitude journal early on, an initial happy “boost” may relate more to the excitement of starting a new habit.

The effort and intentionality of continuing the practice can lead to long-term benefits. Gratitude journaling has been shown to have numerous benefits, including improved mental well-being, increased happiness, and even better sleep.

Gratitude journaling can help increase positivity, improve self-esteem, and reduce stress4. It is important to keep in mind that gratitude journaling is a personal practice, and the benefits may vary from person to person.

Yes, you can practice gratitude journaling with a partner or group. Gratitude journaling can be a great way to connect with others and share positive experiences.

One way to practice gratitude journaling with a partner is to write down one thing you are grateful for about your partner every day or week. This can help strengthen your relationship and build a sense of appreciation for each other.

Another way to practice gratitude journaling with a partner is to create a shared gratitude journal where you both write down things you are grateful for and share them with each other.

Gratitude journaling can provide a sense of context or interconnectedness and remind us how things in life are connected to one another, but ultimately, gratitude journaling is a personal practice, and the benefits may vary from person to person.

The main goal of Intelligent Change products is to help people realize their potential and live happier, more fulfilling lives by offering simple, effective, and beautifully designed tools that facilitate positive habit formation.

The Five Minute Journal is the original guided gratitude journal designed to bring gratitude into your life. By using it daily, you can cultivate a positive mindset, improve your overall well-being, and live a more fulfilling life.

The 6 Month Money-back Promise is a guarantee that if you don't feel the Intelligent Change tools have positively impacted your life, you can return the products for a full refund.

Intelligent Change is committed to sustainability by using 100% recycled, biodegradable, and FSC™ certified paper, as well as 100% natural and plastic-free materials. They also follow a 1-1-1 Philanthropic Model, giving 1% of their profits, 1% of their products, and 1% of their time to create a positive impact in the world.

Intelligent Change's mission is to help 1% of the global population create a positive change in their lives. They aim to empower people to live more mindful, fulfilling lives and unleash their full potential.