You might have heard about gratitude journals or practicing gratitude. Everyone from Oprah to NPR has touched on the subject. Why? Because being grateful in everyday life can have an amazing effect! Not just on you, but on others. Below you’ll read why being grateful is important. I’ll also go over how to practice gratitude. Lastly- so you can put it into practice- I included a free daily gratitude journal printable.
Instructions for free printable:
• Print options: regular paper.
• All of the files are in pdf below. Or click on the image. It will open in a new window and you can either print directly or save to computer.
• The default size of these is full-page. However, if you want smaller, simply reduce the print size! If you’re looking on how to resize printables, check out my post: “How to Resize Printables to Fit Your Planner.”
One of the best ways to practice gratitude is to show those you love that you love them! Check out this amazing post “6 Things You Can Do to Strengthen Your Marriage.” And if you really, really want to read a lot about gratitude (and try a free quiz), check out “7 Gratitude Questionnaires and Scales That Scientists Use“.
Why Practice Gratitude?
Practicing gratitude takes a little time and effort (as you’ll see in the section below on how to practice gratitude, it’s not just taking one second and saying “I’m thankful for my family). So, why practice gratitude? Scholarly research has proven quite a few benefits of gratitude. It improves physical health, psychological health, improves self-esteem, and even helps you sleep better (Forbes & Happify Daily). Those are all valid reasons. But it strikes me that they’re all about self.
I think the importance of gratitude in life is that it has a positive effect on others. Practiced properly, there are benefits of gratitude that extend outside ourselves and have a positive effect on other people.
• Gratitude opens the door to new relationships as well as makes existing ones better.
• Gratitude can enhance empathy and sensitivity (Forbes citing a 2012 study).
• Gratitude helps other people feel better- a sincere, appreciate “thank you” has a positive effect.
• Lastly, and most importantly, gratitude can inspire others to be better.
The last one may sound odd. But I’ve experienced this personally. My brother (Josh) and his wife (Heidi) went through the worst tragedy any parents can go through. They lost their son (my nephew), Drew, to cancer two months before his 3rd birthday. Throughout the entire process- diagnosis, the many, many steps of treatment, his passing, and now a year into their grief, my sister-in-law Heidi has been an amazing inspiration to hundreds- if not thousands- of people. Her blog “Drawing From Drew” is updated regularly and every single entry has some positive in it. In the darkest hours, she has shown gratitude for what they have had even while acknowledging the bad.
Almost immediately after Drew died, Josh and Heidi (with help from their beautiful daughter Molly, now 6) started a charity “Warrior Wagons,” which provides wagons stocked with helpful material to pediatric cancer patients at the Mayo Clinic. It’s gotten off to such an amazing start that they’re already planning on expanding to other hospitals.
I’ve not only experienced what an inspiration Heidi has been through her showing gratitude, I’ve seen how it affects others. I’ve seen myself and family grow into better people because of her words and example. Why practice gratitude? Because you literally can change other people’s lives for the better.
How to Practice Gratitude
As I touched on above, practicing gratitude isn’t just taking a single second out of your day and saying “I’m grateful for my family” or “I’m grateful for a roof over my head.” So, how do you practice gratitude?
1. Keep track of what you’re grateful for. There are a couple of journals below…pick whichever one works for you. Just taking a second and saying it doesn’t sink in the way keeping track does. Plus, with keeping track, you can look back and remember and see amazing things.
2. Get specific. I’m not just thankful for my husband…I’m thankful my husband cleaned the kitchen and did dishes for me when I went to Church the other night. It was great to walk into the house and realize I didn’t still need to tidy up the kitchen.
3. Set aside time for gratitude journaling. If you’re always busy at night and KNOW you’re not going to track, don’t schedule it for then. That’s me. Instead, I do it when I’m getting organized in the morning before starting for work. I look over the past day and find something from that.
4. Get creative. If journaling isn’t for you, don’t do it. Try writing down something each day (or when something happens) and sticking it in a jar. Then on New Year’s Eve (or Christmas), go back and review that positive things from the last year.
5. TAKE ACTION. It’s not just about writing it down. If you’re thankful for something someone did, thank them. Or go above the normal “thank you” and write them a note. You’d be amazed how much a cheerful note can brighten up someone’s day. I have little coloring cards I color and send to people. Not just to thank them, but to pay forward the happiness. I relax while coloring them and when I send them people know that I actually took all that time to make something pretty for them. [That was an affiliate link. If you purchase something, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. See “Disclosure Page” for more.]
The NY Times had a ridiculously negative article on gratitude (the article was a political piece disguised as an article on gratitude). Despite the politics, it did point out one accurate thing. That taking action is vital for gratitude.
6. Be honest about what you are (and aren’t) grateful for. Good Housekeeping had an article on how gratitude really, really didn’t help one woman. Now, I don’t know her life. But from what I gathered from the article, she was really stretching to find stuff to be grateful for- she wasn’t being completely honest. In her own example, she was “thankful” for her housing being cheap…but “the apartment I lived in was only so cheap because it was dark, cramped, ant-infested and falling apart”. If you’re not grateful for anything at the moment, don’t lie. Sometimes life isn’t the best. And trying to be grateful for something you’re not actually grateful for doesn’t work. She was missing the entire point of the whole gratitude exercise.
7. That being said, try to find something. Even if it’s just taking a moment and savoring a delish piece of pie. Or the stranger who complimented your hair. Or that moment when the whole family cracked up laughing over something ridiculous. Take that snapshot of happiness and be grateful for it.
This is a “month at a glance” gratitude journal. Sometimes I go ahead and put an action step towards the end of each line. I didn’t actually include a column for it since I don’t necessarily take an action step every single day. I wanted this journal to be geared towards those who are just starting and needed a reminder to write down their gratitude.
Gratitude Journal1_pdf <<<<pdf of file to download
This printable daily gratitude journal is a week at a time. Please note that the action and what you are grateful for don’t have to be connected! For example, I’m grateful to my husband for doing the dishes one day…so I went ahead and took out the trash for him. But the next day I was grateful to the cashier for complimenting my hair and earrings and being friendly (it was a bright moment in the day)…but I sent a quick colored card to my Mom. See? Not related, but still in the spirit of gratitude.
Gratitude Journal2_pdf <<<<pdf of file to download