Why Gratitude Journaling Should Be Part of Your Daily Practice

Why Gratitude Journaling Should Be Part of Your Daily Practice
November 17, 2023
RxLocal Team

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s never been a better time to express gratitude. And what better way to do it than with a daily practice that prioritizes gratitude in and out of the holiday season?

Enter the art of gratitude journaling.

Gratitude journals have gained traction in recent years, but they’re much more than a passing fad. Learn more about gratitude journaling, its connection to happiness, and how you can promote your own health and wellness by adding it to your daily practice.

The Science Linking Gratitude and Happiness

Gratitude and happiness have always been thought to be linked, but thanks to new research, that link is now supported by science.

Research out of the University of California, Davis and the University of Miami suggests gratitude positively correlates with happiness.

In one study, researchers asked participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics in their lives.

One group was asked to write about things they were grateful for that week. Another group was asked to write about things that irritated or annoyed them that week. Finally, a third group was asked to write about neutral events that happened that week.

The findings were surprising.

As Harvard Health reports, “After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

This study suggests that gratitude isn’t only important for happiness but also for maintaining overall health and wellness. 

This isn’t an isolated study. Research in couples finds that those who take the time to express gratitude for their partner not only feel more positive towards the other person but also feel more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

If you want to be healthier, happier, and have more satisfying relationships, then, you should practice gratitude daily. One of the best ways to do it? Gratitude journaling.

What is a Gratitude Journal?

Gratitude journaling is the art of recording and reflecting on things you are grateful for on a regular basis.

Usually, you write a list of 5 things you’re grateful for each day. However, you can write greater or fewer things in more or less frequency, depending on what your schedule allows.

The things you list can be as small or large as you’d like. Some examples of things you might list in your gratitude journal are “The tasty sandwich I had for lunch today” or “The great phone call I had with my mom.”

No matter what you write, the written form is important here: writing things down, rather than listing them in your head, helps you process them more fully. 

How Should I Practice Gratitude Journaling?

There’s no wrong way to keep a gratitude journal, but the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) offers a few suggestions to get started:

  • Be as specific as possible: An example might be, “I’m grateful that my friends brought me soup when I was sick” instead of “I’m grateful for my coworkers.”

  • Go for depth over breadth: Instead of trying to focus on a wide range of things, focus on practicing gratitude for the little things that mean a lot to you.

  • Get personal: Focus more on people than things.

  • Try subtraction, not addition: Consider what your life would be like without certain people or things rather than only tallying up the good things. This can help you put what you’re grateful for into perspective.

  • See good things as gifts: Try to think of good things so you don’t take them for granted.

  • Savor surprises: Try to record unexpected events.

  • Revise if you repeat: You can write about different aspects of the same people and things, but try to make each entry unique.

  • Write regularly: Commit to a regular time to journal and honor your commitment, even if your schedule gets busy.

What are the Benefits of Gratitude Journaling?

GSSC also outlines the many benefits of gratitude journaling in a 2018 white paper, “The Science of Gratitude.” Some of these benefits include:

  • Increased happiness and positive mood 
  • Greater life satisfaction
  • Less emphasis on materialism
  • Better sleep
  • Less fatigue
  • Lower levels of cellular inflammation
  • Greater resiliency
  • Better development of patience, humility, and wisdom
  • Better prosocial behaviors
  • Stronger relationships
  • May increase employee effectiveness
  • May increase job satisfaction 

It’s clear gratitude journaling isn’t only correlated with higher levels of happiness — but better physical health with lower levels of inflammation, less fatigue, and better sleep.

It goes without saying, then, that gratitude journaling can promote many different aspects of health and well-being. Are you ready to give it a try?


Gratitude journals are more than a passing trend in positive psychology. They’re a science-supported tool that enables you to demonstrate thankfulness, improve your physical health, and promote mental health and happiness.

If you want to practice gratitude journaling yourself, this Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to try it. All you need is a pen, a journal, and a commitment to a daily — or weekly — practice of gratitude.

This Thanksgiving, there’s so much to be grateful for. All you have to do is write it down.