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Cultivating an attitude of thankfulness can improve your mental health and help you see the world in a more welcoming light. It’s also the perfect antidote to the more toxic positivity that insists you see the world through rose-colored glasses, even when doing so obscures the real view. However, sometimes you need the right gratitude prompts to remind you of the reasons you have to rejoice.
That’s okay — you’re human. Journaling is a fabulous tool for managing your emotions and putting your thoughts in concrete form. It can help you work through challenging times and recognize the good in your life, even when things look dark.
Do you need a nudge to focus your energy and turn your thoughts more upbeat the natural, holistic way? Here are 21 gratitude prompts to help you cultivate thankfulness through journaling.
Writing takes ephemeral thoughts and makes them more permanent and concrete. It’s a powerful way of actualizing reality, and well-written words can and have changed the course of history.
Journaling can also be highly therapeutic. It’s a private place to express your innermost feelings, and no one will judge your writing. Your scribblings remain personal unless you choose to share them. You can untangle complex emotions, follow thoughts down rabbit holes and let your imagination climb to new heights.
Best of all, shifting your mindset toward gratitude with the right prompts inspires change to occur from within. You aren’t giving lip service to a therapist or friend you know means well. You’re “talking” to yourself on paper, working through your feelings without censoring them for the audience. The revelations you come to bubble up from deep inside your soul, and you feel their authenticity.
21 Gratitude Prompts to Stir Your Creativity and Cultivate Thankfulness
Are you ready to get out your favorite private journal and cultivate thankfulness with these gratitude prompts? Put on your thinking cap, respond to one of the following for the next two weeks, and see if you notice a change in your attitude and mindset.
1. What’s the Most Valuable Piece of Advice You’ve Ever Received?
Gifts don’t have to be tangible to be valuable. Some of the best ones cost nothing but can change a life — like some quality advice. What sage words have you heard that you can pass on to others?
2. Describe One Person Who Makes Your Daily Life Easier or More Pleasant.
We often take the people who mean the most to us for granted. This gratitude prompt asks you to think of all they contribute to their life. Spend several minutes writing about how they enrich your existence — and consider sharing some of your thoughts with them.
3. What’s One Tool You Couldn’t Live Without? What Makes It Special?
You never notice how important your computer or phone is until it doesn’t function. What other daily objects make your life easier in ways you don’t always stop to appreciate?
4. Name Five Things That Always Make You Smile.
Pets. Children. Sunsets. The world is full of gorgeous and funny things — what always leaves you grinning? Use this gratitude prompt to list all the things you delight in, going well beyond five if you wish.
5. What’s the Earliest Gift You Can Remember Receiving? What Makes It Stand Out?
People often write about the best gift they receive. What was one of the first you can remember? It doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible.
6. Describe a Food That Tastes Like Comfort.
Maybe you can’t imagine a world without fried chicken, gumbo, poutine or the ever-popular pizza. What makes these foods so irresistible?
7. What’s One Movie That Touched Your Heart? What Made It Special?
If you can watch the ending of movies like “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Armageddon,” “Forrest Gump,” “Thelma and Louise,” or “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” without crying, expose the secret of your superhuman power.
8. Which of Your Five Senses Do You Rely on the Most? Describe the Joy It Brings to Your Life.
Perhaps you treasure the scent of a fresh pine forest when you wake up after a night of camping. Maybe seeing the faces of the people you love always brightens your day.
9. What’s One Freedom You Have for Which You Are Grateful?
Freedoms are ephemeral, often dependent on the whims of other human beings. What’s one right you cherish and will never take for granted?
10. Describe Your Favorite Time of Day. What Makes It Special?
Maybe you live for the quiet hour of 4 a.m. when you can get things done without a million interruptions. Perhaps you treasure that magical 8 p.m. hour when the kiddos go to bed, and you finally get a breather.
11. Describe Something Beautiful That Takes Your Breath Away.
It might be a landscape you saw on a recent vacation or the simple majesty of a flower you stopped to admire on your walk to work.
12. What’s a Book You Can Reread Over and Over? What Makes It Special?
If you haven’t dug into the joy of reading for a while, what book would you like to read? What makes it enticing to you?
13. Name Three Things You Like About Your Job.
Even if you barely tolerate your nine-to-five to make rent, there’s likely something you enjoy. It might be a favorite colleague or customer who always makes you smile. This gratitude prompt reminds you to find the silver lining in the grind.
14. What Five Objects in Your Bedroom Comfort You the Most?
If you’re like many people, your bedroom is your haven. What do you swaddle yourself with when you need to retreat?
15. Name a Body Part You Love. How Does It Support You Daily?
Maybe you love how your skirts swirl around the curve of your hips or how your strong arms let you easily lift your toddler.
16. Describe One of Your Favorite Pics on Your Phone. What Makes It Special?
Here’s an excuse to scroll through memory lane. What makes the photo you stop on catch your eye? Can you take yourself back in time to when you took it?
17. Describe a Quirk You Have That Makes You Unique.
Everyone has quirks about them that set them apart from the crowd. What’s your trademark?
18. Describe a Place You Can Visit This Weekend That Makes You Happy — and Plan Your Trip.
There’s immense value in taking breaks and letting yourself be a human being, not a human “doing.” Where would you most like to escape, and how can you get there?
19. Write About a Time a Friend Helped You.
How can you thank or repay them for the favor if you haven’t already? Use this gratitude prompt to think of an appropriate way to show your appreciation.
20. What Do You Appreciate Most About Your Spouse or Partner? Share It With Them!
It’s easy for your partner or spouse to become an outlet for your frustrations instead of an object of appreciation, but this attitude erodes your love and leads to resentment. What’s something you admire about the one you share your life with? When was the last time you told them how special they were?
21. Write a Thank You Note to Yourself for Making It Through a Tough Time.
Chances are, you’ve overcome a lot. Have you ever thanked yourself for your strength, perseverance and motivation to keep going despite impossible odds? This exercise can be very healing.
Cultivate Thankfulness Through Journaling With These Gratitude Prompts
Thankfulness springs from a genuine place inside, not external demands to cheer up and look at the bright side. It’s an excellent focus for improving your oval mental health. The right gratitude prompts help you remember and celebrate your many gifts.
Use the gratitude prompts above for the next two weeks and notice the change in your outlook. Shifting your mindset to thankfulness may be the secret sauce for inviting even more goodness into your life.
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