Gratitude Journals and Why They Work

Written by Christine Kane

My last post was about gratitude and its relationship to our happiness and abundance. If you’re like me, you can read a post like that and think, “Yea yea yea. That’s great. I’ll be more gratitudinal.” (Well, maybe you don’t make up words like I do, but you get the gist.)

I like to go beyond just the concept (i.e. creativity, gratitude, love, collusion, discipline, etc etc) and offer tools, so that you can get a sense of how the concept works in your everyday life. Until you practice and witness your own shifts and awakenings, none of this stuff makes much impact.

Which is why – when it comes to practicing gratitude – I encourage everyone to keep a gratitude journal. Even when I teach songwriting workshops, this is one of the tools I promote. Artists and creative types are prone to suspicion when any kind of forced happiness is beset upon them. Often, they have a finely tuned sense of the dark side, especially when it comes to their attitudes about their own lives. Gratitude journals can slowly and creatively turn this around. I’ve seen it time and time again.

To reiterate what I wrote yesterday, this is not about living in denial or being phony. What it is about is refining your focus. In other words, I encourage the sensitive and bright people in the world to refocus their sensitivity so that they are sensitive to the joy and the good things in their lives, and not just to how bad and painful things feel to them.

So, what is a gratitude journal?

A gratitude journal is a blank notebook where you write lists of things for which you are grateful. Every night, before you go to bed, you take about three minutes to write down a list of five things. (Or any do-able number.) Some days, you might be feeling particularly abundant, and those five things just fly onto the page. Some days, it might feel like you can’t think of even two things. That’s when you remember how amazing it is that you even have a roof over your head or food to eat. That’s when you remember your cat (again) and the fact that you have hot water for a bath. No matter what you’re feeling, you find time to write down these five things every single night without fail. And they don’t always have to be new and different.

What happens when you write in a gratitude journal every night?

My experience is that when I write out my I-am-grateful-for’s every night, I become more in tune throughout the next day. It’s like turning on an inner-switch that sets your awareness to look for material for your journal each night. So you might be driving out of your neighborhood in the morning, and catch the flash of a bluebird in the sunlight, and instead of blowing it off, you stop and notice it for a moment. You take it in. And you make a mental note to include that in your gratitude journal. Then, when you’re having lunch with a co-worker, she grabs the check and pays it. And not only do you thank her, but you make that mental note again. Your day becomes a basket where you collect things. It’s a private little game.

In essence, you become a gratitude magnet. And oddly enough, cool things start to find you. But you have to learn to be grateful now for all that is already.

Really try this one. In fact, try it for the month of December and see how the practice changes you. See if you don’t lighten up a little and call a few more goodies out into manifestation in your world.

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{45 comments ... read them below or add one}

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{45 comments ... read them below or add one}

Susanne November 26, 2006 at 8:56 am

I have started keeping a gratitude journal in July. My life has lightened up since then. I recommend it all the time. Some time in summer I mentioned it to a friend. He said to me, “Well, it’s easy for you to find something to be grateful for, you have a child.” Just then we sat outside on the deck, the sun shining and suddenly there was a squirrel in our garden. I said, “See, there you have somthing to write into your gratitude journal.”

My life feels much more abundant since I started this journal. I even ask my spirit guides for presents (and of course say thank you if I get something), and slowly little things are coming my way. And I cherish the big things like being with my husband and son more than before.

[Reply]

christine November 26, 2006 at 10:06 am

Thanks Susanne! Great examples. I’ve experienced the same things… (even without kids!)

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Susie November 27, 2006 at 12:51 pm

Hey Christine,
I’ve really enjoyed your last two posts. Like Susanne, I too started my gratitude journal in July. It’s been fun, and yes, some days are easier to list than others. All in all I’m starting to notice the world around me more and how I react to the blessings around me. For example, now when I see a beautiful sunset, not only do I think it’s beautiful, but I say thanks to Mother Nature for sharing it with me.

This year around the Thanksgiving table, I was able to remember more things that I was grateful for because all of my gratitudes have become more conscious. The other night I wrote down that I was grateful for starting my gratitude journal…sorta coming full circle I guess :-)

P.S. I’m also grateful that I finally learned how to make smiley-faces on Blogs ;-)

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Dharmashanti November 27, 2006 at 5:18 pm

While I’ve never kept a gratitude journal per se, I have started following the examples of others and list my gratitudes on my (almost) daily blog posts. Thanks for emphasizing the use of the tool as much as the concept.

Peas and hominy,
Dharmashanti

Blog: http://themiseryconspiracy.blogspot.com
Web: http://www.dharmashanti.com

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barb November 28, 2006 at 10:20 am

christine, your discussion and explanation of the gratitude journal is much more clear for me right now. I thought I had to pick out some tremendous item like who I have helped each day at work. but now I know that I have been subconsciously doing this especially when I am outdoors. thanks for the bluebird example, they are brillant here now. I thank the sunrise goddess, the moon, everything that is peaceful and gives me a moment of peace in these times. barb

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ChickiePam November 28, 2006 at 10:26 am

HI Christine,
Well, this weekend I did some cleaning and re-arranged my bedroom. In the midst of that, I found several spiral notebooks with journal entries in them. Not being very good at journalling, I have bits and pieces in 4 notebooks, all scattered around as far as timing is concerned, and actually found one where I had started a journal in 1984! Who is that person?! Than handwriting is different, the speach pattern, the beliefs…man! I don’t think I’ve read it since I wrote it. I don’t even know where the notebook has been for all these years (I’ve moved about 8 times since then, so it’s a miracle that I still have it.)

Anyway, I don’t journal much, but I do try to keep an attitude of gratitude. Although I’ve had much in my life to be grateful for, sometimes the events in life just don’t look like things to be grateful for. Like the death of my daughter. I could easily be grateful for her life, but not her passing. That took 14 years. What I discovered is that her passing “woke me up” and I am who I am today because of her. I would have most likely stayed in my rut and lived a life that was “OK” or even “wonderful” by most standards, but was far from one that fills me with joy. I had everything in life that I had ever hoped for. And it was empty because although I was close to doing what I came here to do, I was still off course.

So I figured out who I was and what I was here to do, got a divorce, changed careers, moved to a new state and was living a wonderful life with my two great kids, and a wonderful man who was perfect for me. And after two years of mostly bliss. that wonderful man was hit head on by a drunk driver. I’m still working on finding something to be grateful for in his passing. I am, however, finaily to the point that I’m grateful to be alive this day. And I’m grateful for the life that I lead, for my children, my home, the people and critters in my life, for work that fills my soul with joy. And that’s just for starters! I am very blessed. And I’ll work toward finding the gift that he gave me with his passing that he couldn’t give me with his life. I used to call him the love of my life. Now I call him the love of the first half of my life. I’m here. I’ll love again. I was in a women’s circle a few short months after his passing and was assigned to do a gratitude list in the midst of my overwheliming grief. I believe it is one of the main reasons that I did not give up and leave this life voluntarily. Gratitude is a powerful thing for sure.

I’m grateful for you and that you bothered to do this blog. It would be easier to just go through your day and not put yourself out there. Thank you, Christine, and all those who share here.

So now I’ll go write a page in one of those old spiral notebooks that are only about half full….

Pam

[Reply]

Linda Johnson November 28, 2006 at 12:20 pm

Christine,

I found your blog last week, and since then I’ve read almost all of your archived entries. I love the way you write. And I love what you say. I’m reading and re-reading and trying to fill my brain with your words of wisdom so that it will come out through my life. I’ve restarted my gratitude journal. I’ve posted quotes from you where I will see them through the day. I intend to make my intention cards!

Thank you for sharing your ideas and your self with the world. I’m so glad that I was lead to your site. Your name has definitely been in my gratitude journal more than just once!

Linda

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mary katherine November 28, 2006 at 11:33 pm

I’m really enjoying this gratitude stuff. Thank you, Christine for convincing me at the last retreat that it’s okay to change from 10 to 5 items per day – it’s made all the difference. I can squeeze out 5 items even when I’m exhausted. I’ve left something for you over on my blog. Check it out – http://thewayiseeitmka.blogspot.com/2006/11/for-christine.html

Pam, your comments amazed me. WOW!

[Reply]

Tina November 29, 2006 at 1:33 am

hi, christine

I was led to your blog by googling “quit coffee”. Enllightened by your writing, I read most of your aricles. And so far I love them a lot. From the articles I lean that living consciously is a big intent for life, and having wisdom is so important to a woman.

I now live in another country other than US. whatever, some of principles apply everywhere. I was touched by what Pam said above too. So my gratitution today is to get to read your blogs!

[Reply]

christine November 29, 2006 at 7:53 am

I had a photo session yesterday (new photos that will actually look like me! what a concept!) so I’m running behind in comment responses. My apologies.

Hi Susie, It’s so much fun to watch you grow and expand in the world. Thanks for sharing all of it! It’s good stuff. And smileys are very good. :-) (though I think dave needs to show us how to do some different ones… like the tongue sticking out face, etc.) :-D

HI Dharmashanti. (I love the name of your blog!) Thanks! And listing gratitudes on your blog is great energy.

Barb, I would bet that without even knowing it, you’ve been keeping a gratitude journal in your head in all that time you spend out in nature and in all of the lists of birds you keep! But, I’m glad you get that it’s not about the big stuff… in fact, it’s best if it’s about the small stuff. (though, big stuff is nice too!)

Pam, I’m so moved by what you wrote that I have very little to add to it, except thanks for sharing all of that. What a hugely powerful soul you are! Thanks for being here, and for adding your wisdom to these comments…

Hi Linda and welcome! Thanks for all of those kind words. I’m thrilled that you’ve taken such great steps in your life. Please keep me posted on how it’s going!

MK, I forgot to write about the “five things v ten things” in the blog. I remember you asking about that at the retreat. Small chunks! That’s what makes us keep going. (It seems like creative types get REALLY overwhelmed REALLY easily!) Can’t wait to read your blog!

Hi Tina, Thanks for letting me know about the google search. That’s so good to hear. (especially since I’m not even remotely computer savvy!) And you’re right, this stuff works no matter where you live. I’m happy to be a part of your gratitudes! :-)

[Reply]

Susie November 29, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Thanks! that’s a Great compliment!

Let me give the smiley face with the tongue sticking out a try :-P

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christine November 29, 2006 at 8:00 pm

ooooo. a great smiley face! now i have an “envy list!”

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mary katherine November 29, 2006 at 10:59 pm

Oh yeah, yeah – that dreaded overwhelm is my biggest demon to fight…

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christine November 30, 2006 at 6:26 am

MK, I think so many people deal with it. Once I get a handle on it, it’ll probably be a five part series blog… or… no… a TEN part series blog! Oh NO! It’s happening!

[Reply]

Amy November 30, 2006 at 9:59 am

I wrote a (very silly) sort of gratitude poem a few months ago, just a spur-of-the-moment thing that happened during my breakfast at work:

Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal–my friend.
I want to make a blanket of you, so warm
And sweet and comforting, even on a hot day.

Alas, you would make a sticky blanket,
And I would be thought insane for the attempt.
So, instead I will just eat you, nourishing my body and soul. :-)

[Reply]

christine November 30, 2006 at 10:28 am

Amy, This is the sound of applause as you curtsy…. clap clap clap clap clap clap clap! Silly is good and way better than serious when it comes to gratitude!

[Reply]

yourjournal March 4, 2007 at 6:07 am

Hi everyone, it is very exciting to talk to like minded people in regards to gratitude journals and the positve changes that start happening once you start being thankful for what you have in your life.

I had a shocking 2 years and was just about to move in with the inlaws when a girlfriend gave me the DVD of the movie ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. Wow what a lifechanging experience that was.

So I started learning the teachings of ‘ The Secret’ and just overnight came up with a new busines concept of designing personalised journals that could be purchased anywhere around the world (in english). Because I was finding that just writing in a blank journal was really hard for me and some other people. So I created a gratitude journal that guided people through the process with examples of how to write your ideas, dreams, goals, thoughts and give thanks while designing and attracting your dream life.
Check it out if you want. I would love some feedback from journal users as to what they would like to see in these journals so that I can improve them.
my website is http://www.yourjournal.com.au.

Anyway, since I have started changing my poverty consciousness into prosperity consciousness and writing in my gratitude journal everyday it is amazing all the wonderful things that keep happening. eg cheques in the mail, bumping into people who are practising the laws of attraction just like me, creative ideas on how to bring more prosperity into my life and so much more. I am really excited and I hope that your Gratitude Journals are bringing your dreams and desires to life as well.

take care and may the Universe bring you all that your heart desires.

[Reply]

Florence April 1, 2007 at 8:07 am

Hello-

This is another thing I started a few months ago…I am on my second journal now! After viewing The Secret dvd & reading the book and hearing about Gratitude and how you need to feel the feelings of Gratitude in your current life (situations) in order to attract more of the good feelings & things you want into your life! “Nothing good can come into your life without Gratitude” is what stuck to me!!! I immediatelty started running the list through my head several times a day of what I am grateful for NOW and then started making the lists in my journal! I like doing it in the morning, though I may shift that into early evening before bedtime now – thanks for the idea!!!!

hAvE a GrEaT DaY =)

[Reply]

Alison Lee May 8, 2007 at 6:10 am

I have a gratitude journal that I read every morning once I got out of my bed. This helps me get a great start to my day every time without fail! :)

Once you know how to give thanks to all the things you have right now in your life, the Universe will know that you are ready for more things and will bring them into your life.

Keep up with the great content, Christine!

Love,
Alison

ps. your readers might be interested to find out more about Law of Attraction by getting this complimentary interview report with Bob Proctor :
http://www.abundanceattracting.com/bob/

[Reply]

Alexandra May 22, 2007 at 3:54 am

Sweet. I do feel the feeling of gratitude every morning when I brush my teeth. The moment I enter the bathroom I started to be grateful of what I have in my life, i.e. friends, freedom, community, family and many more.

God bless,
Alexandra

http://attractingyourgoals.com

[Reply]

Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker June 29, 2007 at 11:29 pm

It works better for me to start the day out by writing 5-10 things that I am grateful for in my gratitude journal. This tends to set my mood for the whole day. I am much more in tune with my world when I start out expressing my gratitude for everything that is right with my world. I wrote an article about gratitude on my blog just a few weeks ago. I am enjoying your writing. Thanks, Patricia

[Reply]

angelica November 13, 2007 at 8:29 pm

hi there i just had a quick scan through ur site and will come back to read indepth when i get the time, i just wanted to say how nice it is to read your thoughts and ideas as i very much believe in a lot of the things you say i also mean to say that i was getting irritated by many people who mention the word laws of attraction and visions then ‘it will only cost this much’ i wish more people would share the universe without it costing

great site

kind regards

[Reply]

Lori April 13, 2008 at 8:37 am

Hi woman
I just love how you type what your thinking LOL
For real ! It makes me know how real you are and that I can follow what you typed . Anyways I every single day in my head go thru my gratitudes .. It works all the same But I do think by writing it out acts like homework
So to speak
thanx Lori

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Heather July 1, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Hi Christine:

I saw the Law of Attraction on Oprah the other day, Googled Vision Boards (for some inspiration), and came up with your website. WOW! I’m printing this page and the one on Vision Boards off not only for me, but to send to my brother, a glass artist, who is a bit down, depressed, and in need of new direction. I hope that your site will be an inspiration for him as it has for me.

Thank you!
Heather

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Alberta November 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Beautiful idea! I’m going to do it!

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Sbu December 22, 2008 at 3:10 am

It’s really amazing to read the articles on this blog, the responses really touched me. It appears we spend more time on the negative rather than appreciating the good things we have and those that happen to us.

You have all been a great source of inspiration and I guarantee to spread this to others all around me.

Wow.

[Reply]

Michelle Halpern January 10, 2010 at 1:04 pm
Deborah Foreman August 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I came across your page when I searched vision board. You see I have a vision board a lil empty but still i have it. I started about 2 1/2 years ago and the one thing I focused on daily came to pass…my wonderful fiance. i know for a fact this work and coming across this has lit a fire under my but to be more thankful instead of asking for more. I will be posting more updates on here as time goes on.

[Reply]

Amreta June 2, 2011 at 3:01 am

Hi Christine,

I’ve been your subscriber for sometime now and I would like to say how much I enjoy and learn from your wise words through your newsletter! I’ve been up and down with my gratitude journals practice and only a few weeks ago finalised my ‘latest’ version of my gratitude journal which I call “MY THANK YOU BOOK” and it’s a free download:
http://www.amretasgraphicsblog.com/2011/04/my-thank-you-book-free-download.html

Oh, I wasn’t quite sure if I had informed you before but I also used an article from your Live Creative newsletter in my Blogzine http://www.amretasgraphicsblog.com/2010/10/amretasgraphics-blogzine-issue-01-june.html including the ‘complete burb’ as requested in the newsletter :-) I hope you’re fine with it :-)

Thank you so much Christine for being such an inspiration!

Love all the way from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Amreta

[Reply]

Willie Hallman October 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm

This is a great article. Learning to be grateful is a very positive thing one can do in there life. Life is too short to think on negative things.

[Reply]

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