Why I Don’t Use A Gratitude Journal

November 11, 2019 |
Cultivating gratitude

Everyone in my family kicked off the year with their very own gratitude journal. It was my husband’s idea and I went on Amazon and picked out journals that fit the personalities of everyone in our family.

I mean, do you know how many gratitude journals are on Amazon?

Anyways, so we each had our own gratitude journal, and we kicked off the new year writing down what we were thankful for each day.

Now, before I go any further, I want to remind you that I’m a Mary not a Martha. I’m more of a #HotMess than #MomBoss. I’m the one who gets superglue in my eye while trying to fix her son’s shoes (true story).

Why is all that important?

Because even though we had good intentions, it shouldn’t be a surprise that our gratitude journals lasted less than a month.

I can’t speak for the rest of my family, but mine is still on my nightstand collecting dust. It has a total of nine entries.

But here’s the thing (and this is important): It’s not that I didn’t write in it because I wasn’t grateful. I am.

If writing 3 things in a journal everyday doesn't make you overflow with gratitude, that's okay. Click To Tweet

It’s the writing down three things at the end of a long day that didn’t work for me. It’s much easier for me to cultivate gratitude on the go. To live a life of thankfulness, instead of plucking at seemingly random facts to fill in blanks.

If you are a person who loves the structure of gratitude journals, that is awesome! I am by no means trying to dissuade you from using them (check out this one I found for my daughter). But if you’re like me and they just don’t work for you, I just want you to know that that’s okay, too.

3 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude Without A Journal

Instead of trying to do something that doesn’t work, I have found there are a few ways that I can cultivate gratitude in life during the Thanksgiving season, the start of a new year, or really just all year long. And that’s what I really wanted to share with you today.

1.) Say Thank You

Making a point to say thank you is probably the easiest way to cultivate gratitude. It’s something we teach our children, but when we get busy as adults, it’s something we sometimes let slip.

3 ways to cultivate gratitude

Related Post: 103 Reasons to be Thankful

When was the last time you told your kids thank you for putting their dishes in the sink? Or took the time to thank the secretary at their school for helping you with something? What about another parent who helped you nail down a homework assignment, get your child to or from an event, etc.?

This could also be as easy as responding to a text or email thanking someone for the information. It doesn’t matter if they are just doing their job, letting them know they are appreciated might just add a little sunshine to their day.

2.) Take A Moment

This is my favorite way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Simply slowing down and taking a moment to look around me. Just realizing how blessed I really am. Yes, the holiday season can be stressful. So can life in general. There is always something, isn’t there? But even in the midst of every trial, there is something to be thankful for.

Taking a moment and finding joy in the trials of life… just to breathe deep and soak up all of life’s blessings. That’s my favorite way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

3.) Prayer & Praise

Finally, no list on cultivating gratitude would be complete without prayer and praise. Taking the time to thank God for what He has given us is so important. Whether that’s when you pause for a moment and look around, at the end of a long day, or even before the sun comes up. There is no wrong time to give God the glory for the blessings in our lives.

And if we’re having a really bad spell, asking God to help us see the blessings can’t hurt either. Sometimes prayer makes all the difference. It can soften our bitter hearts. Help us get a new perspective. Or let out our frustrations and refocus on Jesus.

What’s Your Take On Cultivating Gratitude?

So what about you?

Do you use a gratitude journal? If not, how do you cultivate gratitude in your life? Join the conversation in the comments below.

3 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude During The Holiday Season Click To Tweet


P.S. Don’t forget that Christmas is coming. Prepare your heart for the holidays with these Christ-centered devotions written by Heather Hart. Get your copy from Amazon or click here to learn more.

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  • Stephanie says:

    Loved this.. I would so forget to write in a gratitude journal tooo thanks for writing this.

  • Maree Dee says:

    I love keeping a journal. It keeps me in an attitude of Gratitude all day long. I do mine a little different. I incorporate it into my prayer time using the TRUST acronym. I start my prayer time with T – naming three things I am thankful for. Sometimes they aren’t well thought through just the first things that come to mind. So mine isn’t a separate journal just for gratitude.

    I love that God made each of us different. Sometimes I get so caught up in doing things the way someone else does it that I don’t do it at all. You have a great way that works for you.

    • Yes! I love that we are each unique. Finding what works for us instead of trying to fit the mold of “everyone else” relieves so much pressure. And working your gratitude journaling into your prayer time sounds genius.

  • Love this! Not all of us are designed to use gratitude journals, so amen. But isn’t it wonderful that there are so many options for those who do? Thanks for sharing with us why you don’t use a gratitude journal.

    • Yes! I loved looking at all the gratitude journals at the end of last year and picking ones that fit the personalities of everyone in my family. And my daughters loved them. I think they are also the ones who lasted the longest with theirs.

  • Melodie Haas says:

    This is perfect for World kindness day – which is today!

  • Jana says:

    I love this, Heather. I’m a journaler (is that a word?), but I never was able to keep a gratitude journal. It’s strange. I see the journals, I love the look of them, I love the idea of them, but practically speaking, they just don’t work for me. That said, I do spend a lot of time in gratitude when I journal naturally. I really appreciated your honesty in this post and your excellent ideas for cultivating gratitude in other ways.

    • That makes total sense to me, Jana! Partly because I’m the same way. I’m not a journaler (it sounds like a word to me), but I do pray before bed and I pour out gratitude during that time. But writing it down? That’s a different story. I think it’s just the way God made us.

  • I have wanted to start a gratitude journal so many times but have not stuck with it. I have been learning to cultivate gratitude for several years now by intentionally saying thank you for everything I can think of. I used to say ‘sorry’ too much, and that wasn’t healthy. Now that’s been crowded out by ‘thank you’s and God has me in such a better place.

    • Yes! ‘Thank you’ is so much better than ‘sorry.’ What a great reminder. I love how God takes us on our own journey. I still probably say ‘sorry’ too often, but it’s one I am working on as well.

  • Hi Heather. I am publishing a post next Friday on something new we are doing this year for gratitude. Would you mind if I link to this post in it? I think it would be a great companion! laurensparks.net

  • Summer says:

    I’m with you. I can’t be consistent with a gratitude journal. I love your tips and will be more intentional about following them.

  • I love that you have found was to cultivate gratitude that work for your family! I personally really like journaling and writing my thoughts. I’m not always consistent, so I appreciate your suggestions of other ways to practice gratitude daily.

  • This is great and super honest. I would be right there with you. Seeking gratitude throughout the day and in prayer is the way to go. Thank you for sharing.

  • Oh my goodness! This line made my day lol! “Now, before I go any further, I want to remind you that I’m a Mary not a Martha. I’m more of a #HotMess than #MomBoss. I’m the one who gets superglue in my eye while trying to fix her son’s shoes (true story).”

    I liked how you offered alternatives to gratitude journaling. In some seasons of my life, it really works for me and in others, it collects dust like yours. I realized what works better for me is just saying what I’m grateful for out loud.

    Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas again, Heather! <3

    • Thanks for stopping in, Sarah! And I totally get what you are saying about seasons. In some seasons some things work better than they do in others. As moms, we just have to learn to roll with it.

  • Haha! Love what you said about being a hot mess instead of a mom boss. That’s so me—the Mary living in a Martha world. Loved your advice!

  • Boma says:

    We must be intentional about cultivating an attitude of gratitude, so our perspectives are not skewed in ways that portray our reality falsely. Thanks for sharing, Heather. Blessings to you!

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