Home Gratitude A step by step guide to starting a gratitude journal

A step by step guide to starting a gratitude journal

by Vidya Sury September 21, 2018 9 comments
Starting a Gratitude Journal A step by step guide

Starting a Gratitude Journal will transform your life and I am about to give you a  step by step guide on how you can do it.

Gratitude is a powerful attitude. I wrote my first gratitude list when I was a little girl. My Mom always kept me occupied with all sorts of writing prompts and exercises. Well, besides playing with my one doll, books, chores, and craft work, not much else to focus my hyper-energy on.

My first gratitude journal was our floor at home. As a joint family that occupied the second floor of our building, we had a largish uncluttered home (no ceiling fans, no refrigerator, no TV—this was the 60s). Big windows with window sills—many cozy spots for reading. Plenty of chalk to write with, on our beautiful red oxide floor. Besides drawing on this vast canvas, I also did my writing practice on the floor. Probably how I learned to mop, but that’s a different story.

Once I got started, I looked forward to impressing my Mom, Grandma, Uncles and Aunt every day with something creative.

What started off with lists evolved into sketching scenes which earned me the precious gift of a drawing book.

Long story short, two important things happened.

  • I fell in love with lists—they rule my life
  • I practiced the attitude of gratitude—which keeps me focused on the silver lining

Each night, before I went to bed, I said my prayers which included a thank you list. Eventually, I started doing this also as soon as I woke up, when I learned to set intentions for the day.

Over the years, I’ve kept a gratitude journal. When my son came into my life, naturally I wanted to teach him, too. When he was very little, I started the concept of the Gratitude Jar, as it was fun and easy—and the whole family buddied up with him.

Here’s our first Gratitude Jar, which we also called the Happiness jar.

Happiness Jar. Gratitude Practice for Kids

All you need is an empty container, paper and pencil/pen. Of course, decorating it is a must.

Oh, our son loved writing all sorts of things on those bits of paper and watching the jar fill up. Obviously, just the sight of that jar filling up was pure joy and lifted our spirits. Grabbing a handful every couple of weeks and reading was even more fun. Yes, our family tends to generally be happy.

Gratitude Journal

The goal, of course, was mindful living, appreciating the little things. Sure, we’ve parried arguments from our son on various occasions, but the overall outcome has been satisfactory. Even today, when I talk to him on the phone and suddenly ask him to list three things he’s grateful for, he can instantly cite five. I am thinking, mission accomplished.

So, although the title of this post—starting a gratitude journal, a step by step guide—sounds serious, I want to assure you right now that it is the easiest thing in the world. Most of you reading this probably already maintain a gratitude journal, in which case, I hope you’ll smile as you read this.

Gratitude is an appreciation and acknowledgment for all the good things we receive. Since the source of this good stuff is outside our lives, gratitude also connects us to others. There are scientific studies to prove that consciously maintaining a gratitude practice results in better emotional well-being and physical health. There are fewer illnesses, lesser chances of depression and consequently, more happiness and a positive outlook, along with strong relationships, and a tendency to be more generous.

Starting a Gratitude Journal A step by step guide. #Gratitude #Happiness #Selfimprovement #guide

What you need to start your gratitude journal:

  • Ten minutes, max., per day. Some people prefer to do it weekly, but I highly recommend daily. It is actually easier. But hey, pick your own pace.
  • A notebook of your choice—make it pretty. Look at mine, pandering to my stationery fetish!


  • You can also follow the “bullet journal” system. This is a personal favorite with me, and is easier to follow when you write your gratitude journal daily.
  • Ideally, choose a time of day when it is most convenient. Before you go to bed, or as soon as you wake up…or whatever works for you.
  • As always, intention. The desire to do it.

Getting started—the attitude of gratitude

  • Become conscious of noticing, recalling any happy event, however small, good experience/person/thing, and enjoy the feel-goodness of these.
  • Write down three/five things that make you feel grateful. This is important—the writing part.
  • Repeat every day.

See? That easy.

Some tips to get you started:

  • Who are you most grateful for today (person)
  • Which three people touched your life today, and how?
  • What did you do to cheer someone/brighten their life today?
  • One thing you feel absolutely blessed to have in your life, today
  • Three more things you’re grateful for, today.

I know I said three things initially, but you’d be surprised how your list gets longer when you start focusing on gratitude.

Some points to keep in mind while writing your gratitude journal

  • Be specific—as I said, enjoy the feeling that came with it
  • Avoid writing the same thing every day. No dittos.
  • Try and notice something new every day. You’ll be amazed the things you’ll see.
  • Feel free to be as detailed as you want. I can promise you that you’ll love going back and reading it a few weeks later.
  • Be personal. Life is generally more about people, than things.
  • Needn’t always be positive stuff. Can be grateful for losing something.
  • Note unexpected joys/gifts/events
  • Be regular

My gratitude journal looks something like this:

  • That heart on my coffee today
  • Phone call from Uma. She’s coming home with my favorite dish today!
  • So glad I finally lost that client today. (yes, sometimes I am grateful for what I don’t have)
  • Bought mango ginger and amla in the market today. Made pickle.


  • So happy T got the project she pitched for!
  • Grateful for the medical store guy rushing my prescription home even though it was late at night.

… and so on and so forth.

As easy as that. You’re simply recording things you’re grateful for, things that made you happy!

If some of you are still wondering WHY maintain a gratitude journal, d’uh, there are several reasons. Here are just some of the benefits of practicing gratitude:

  • Stress relief—clearly because you take time to calm down and recall the good stuff
  • A fresh perspective on life and what matters
  • A better understand of what you want more of
  • Better focus
  • Practicing mindful living, good for your mental health
  • Your gratitude journal is your best friend on those days when you feel a bit low—read through it and reset your mood
  • Better balance in life
  • Attract good things and people
  • A growing sense of accomplishment
  • Improved physical and emotional health
  • Enhanced empathy and better relationships
  • Greater self esteem and ability to pursue personal goals, rather than harboring resentment over those doing better than them, because gratitude tends to make one appreciate others’ achievements
  • Better sleep

You can personally test this by starting your gratitude journal practice today and attract more goodness in your life.

So now,

Take a deep breath, or two


Open your heart

And write…

Today I am grateful for…

It is World Gratitude Day–what better occasion to get started?

By the way, a friendly shout out to Upasna Sethi, who launched the Gratitude Pie app today!

For those who’d like to maintain their Gratitude Journal on the go, Upasna has made it easy as pie with a brand-new app called the Gratitude Pie: Recipe for a Happy You.

Pie, because it is in the form of a pie chart. And I’d also like to think that gratitude is as delicious as pie.

This is a pie-style interactive editable Gratitude Journal app that lets you add five grateful moments daily, resulting in a colorful pie which you can then share on social media right away!

Gratitude Pie app as a Gratitude Journal

You can also add photos.

Gratitude Journal on the Go

Install it today! You will enjoy using it!

And share your Gratitude pie on social media.

What are you grateful for, today? Please share in the comments!

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Shalzmojo September 23, 2018 at 11:56 am

Your post was much needed reading in my life as I have been lax in doing my recordings for each day or even each week. When I picked up the journal, I hadnt entered anything since April.
So immediately rectified that, downloaded the app and put away a wish in the wish jar that I had started ages ago too.

I will be putting up my gratitude post soonest and just wante to thank you yet once again for getting me inspired to write this on a regular basis


Lakshmi Manoj Kumar September 24, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Hello Vidya! I’m grateful for you to share the happiness jar with us. That’s a great learning for me today, I am going to introduce it at our home too.
I was talking to my colleague last week about my gratitude posts monthly on my blog and from where I started (which is here, of course!). She has a daily gratitude list and asked me if I would like to start one daily as well. That kept me pondering! But most of my notebooks ends up with the children doing their own doodling and scribbling (which I am happy too!). I should think about it again, I guess.

Rachna Parmar September 25, 2018 at 8:11 am

I love the detail in the post, Vids. I don’t have a journal per se but yes I do jot down things that I am grateful for everyday. Well, some days I miss. I started asking my younger son and elder son a few months back about three things that they were grateful for but the activity fizzled out after a few days. Must restart. I think it is important to be grateful for what we have in our lives especially the small things.

Soumya September 25, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Trust you to write something like this and make the reader hang on to every word 🙂

Gratitude is a relatively new concept to me, but all thanks to you, it is something I believe in deeply now. We do have a happiness jar at home jotting down happy things day after day, but never have I maintained a journal for it.

Until now that is, now I will.

Love the gratitude pie app, I saw someone using it recently and thought of it as an interesting concept.
Soumya recently posted…Living With PCOS

Suzie Cheel September 26, 2018 at 5:01 am

Love this post, The gratitude pie app must be android:( Gratitude is such a big part of my life, my healing and my abundance , thank beautiful xxx

Debbie L Hampton September 28, 2018 at 12:55 am

I love all the different ways you incorporated gratitude into your family and life. My kids are grown and gone, but I absolutely love the idea of the gratitude jar. Maybe I can do it with grandkids! 🙂 I’ve never heard of the Gratitude
Pie app. I’ll check it out.

I don’t have a journal, but I do practice observing gratitude multiple times daily.

My Gratefulness for 30 days of #MyfriendAlexa : #Gratitude #LetusKISS – Monika's Reflections September 28, 2018 at 9:41 pm

[…] that I got to read  Vidya Suri Gratitude journal […]

Elle Sommer September 30, 2018 at 7:04 am

What an inspiring post Vidya. In our home we do write down things we are grateful for, usually after our meditations. Not in quite the detail that you have here but nonetheless you are so right when you talk about the benefits of focusing on gratitude. It’s easy to do when driving in the car too, or riding on the bus or train. Gratitude feels good and does a body good. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂 PS I’m grateful your comments auto-populate my name, website etc. 🙂

Zeenat Merchant Syal September 30, 2018 at 1:09 pm

Love love love this post Vidya! That gratitude app… I’m going to download it now! ❤️❤️❤️


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