The 10 Best Gratitude Journals of 2021

Boost happiness with this five-minute daily ritual

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Our Top Picks
The weekly, guided journal offers a year's worth of content that harnesses the principles of positive psychology.
It includes 15 coloring pages to help readers kick-start their creativity and embrace daily gratitude.
Serving as a personal time capsule, the journal documents a reader’s personal growth and evolution throughout five years.
It takes only five minutes a day to reflect with the help of these guided writing prompts, lists, and quotes.
Participants will learn how to combat negative mindsets and focus on the high points in life to harness happy thoughts.
It's filled with a variety of challenges, questions, and prompts, including a thank you note challenge.
Introducing kids to a gratitude journal at a young age demonstrates that one can appreciate even the smallest things in life.
There are no preset dates, so the user creates a schedule for when and how often they’d like to journal.
This gratitude journal is designed to be used for 52 weeks (or however long it takes you to get through it).
The exercises help the user build a habit of daily journaling, with prompts walking them through what to think about.

When we express gratitude, it can fire up multiple areas of the brain that are responsible for delivering mood- and happiness-boosting chemicals—like dopamine and serotonin.

Writing down what one is grateful for each day can positively impact the way the body and mind function—from quality of sleep to boosting immunity and happiness. A gratitude journal serves as a personal outlet to reflect on what one is grateful for in life.

“Gratitude journals may allow individuals to better organize their thoughts and tasks, potentially leading to improved organization and clarity," says Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and Regional Medical Director for Community Psychiatry + MindPath Care Centers.

Spending a few minutes a day or even a week to acknowledge and absorb the positive attributes of life can make a significant impact on one’s overall well-being.

Here are the best gratitude journals on the market.

Even Happier: A Gratitude Journal for Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment

Pros
  • 52 weeks of exercises

  • Activities reference empirical research

Cons
  • Not great for someone looking to write daily

  • Some simplistic and common sense insights

“Even Happier” is a solid option for people looking to dip their toes into a gratitude journal or incorporate gratitude reflection on a weekly basis. Author Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., offers a year's worth of content that harnesses the principles of positive psychology from his time teaching at Harvard University. 

This weekly guided journal includes 52 weeks of new exercises, meditations, and self-reflective writing sessions.

Tiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal: Questions, Prompts, and Coloring Pages for a Brighter, Happier Life

Pros
  • Flexibound hardcover

  • 15 coloring pages included

Cons
  • Lower-quality paper

  • Small print

This 160-page gratitude journal guides readers to creatively foster gratitude through drawing and self-reflection. 

Each day includes a prompt or question to motivate readers to recognize small blessings and acquire a more positive mindset. Examples of writing prompts include, "I appreciate that I live in a part of the world where anyone can..." and "which challenges are you proud to have overcome?" 

The journal also includes an artistic portion, with 15 coloring pages to help readers kick-start their creativity and embrace daily gratitude.

The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record

Pros
  • Minimal effort required

  • Good for tracking over time

Cons
  • May be too small for some

  • Some misprints of the dates

This popular pick is a good choice for people new to gratitude journaling. Inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project," this journal follows a simple structure—calling for just one sentence a day. 

This daily ritual guides readers through up to five years of gratitude reflection and inspirational quotes. Serving as a personal time capsule, the journal documents a reader’s personal growth and evolution throughout the years.

Start With Gratitude: Daily Gratitude Journal

Pros
  • Self-written dates mean no set schedule

  • Minimal time commitment

Cons
  • Includes a spiritual component

  • Positivity manifestation included

“Start With Gratitude” includes daily entries that are broken up into two sections—morning and evening. It takes only five minutes a day to reflect through the wealth of guided writing prompts, lists, and quotes. 

Thought-provoking entries include a list of goals and intentions for the future, as well as daily writing prompts like “music I enjoyed listening to today,” “things I did for myself today,” and more. Incorporating these practices helps provide balance and positivity in everyday life.

Happy Journal, Happy Life: How drawing your day ignites creativity, boosts gratitude, and skyrockets happiness

Pros
  • Doubles as a guide and a journal

  • Helps users combat negative mindsets

Cons
  • Better for those who like to draw

  • May require more instruction

Author Jennie Moraitis guides readers in her self-discovered “Happy Journal” method. This motivational book helps people creatively reflect on the happiest moments in life. 

With ten minutes a day, “Happy Journal, Happy Life” aims to get the creative juices flowing and help people harness gratitude and happy thoughts. This journal is for writers and artists of all levels, and it guides readers in using drawing and doodling as mediums for expressing what brings joy into their lives. 

Through the “Happy Journal” experience, participants will also learn how to combat negative mindsets and focus on the high points in life, both big and small.

A Life of Gratitude: A Journal to Appreciate It All, Big and Small

Pros
  • Vivid watercolor illustrations

  • Designed for all ages

Cons
  • Prompts may be too simplistic

  • Fading print makes some copies difficult to read

This bright and cheery journal aims to help readers find happiness in the present moment. Filled with a colorful collection of watercolor illustrations and a variety of challenges, questions, and prompts—including "who has been your greatest teacher in life?” and a thank you note challenge—this journal will stimulate the mind and help readers embrace everyday gratitude. 

Spend anywhere from a minute to a day completing the various pages and projects depicted in this beautiful 224-page book.

Today Is Great!: A Daily Gratitude Journal for Kids

Pros
  • Fun and engaging challenges

  • Includes space to write and draw

Cons
  • Specific days require commitment

  • Smaller size book

Share the gift of gratitude by getting kids started with their very own gratitude journal. This kid-focused journal features daily entries, challenges, and questions. One of the many activities includes the challenge of writing a thank you note to someone who has helped them, like a teacher or bus driver. Humorous illustrated characters keep kids engaged, with plenty of blank space for self-expression.

Introducing kids to a gratitude journal at a young age demonstrates that one can appreciate even the smallest things in life. This daily practice could guide them toward a lifetime of positive thinking.

The One-Minute Gratitude Journal

Pros
  • Good value

  • Nice and quick

Cons
  • Lower-quality paper

  • Not a lot of variety in quotes

What we love most about this journal is the flexibility—you’re in the driver's seat. There are no dates, so the reader creates a schedule for when and how often they’d like to journal.

The book serves as a blank canvas to reflect on what one is grateful for each day, through short journal entries and blank drawing pages. Additionally, each page includes a new motivational quote. 

“The One-Minute Gratitude Journal” is extremely time-efficient. With just one minute and three to five sentences a day, readers can begin to reap the benefits of regularly expressing gratitude.

What Experts Say

“Gratitude journals can certainly be effective in helping boost mood and a sense of positivity. We often get focused on what’s not going right in life, so a gratitude journal can prompt us to focus on everything—big or small—that is positive in our lives," — Carla Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist practicing in California.

Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal

gratitude-journal
Pros
  • Quick morning exercises

  • Weekly gratitude checkpoint

Cons
  • Few open pages for free writing

  • Too repetitive for some

Available in both traditional paperback and a spiral-bound edition, this gratitude journal is designed to be used for 52 weeks (or however long it takes you to get through it).

In addition to daily quotes and space to jot down the things you’re grateful for each day, the journal has a weekly gratitude checkpoint, where you can reflect back on all of your recent blessings.

The 5-Minute Gratitude Journal: Give Thanks, Practice Positivity, Find Joy

Pros
  • Brief, 5 minute prompts

  • Explains psychological and emotional benefits of gratitude

Cons
  • Prompts don’t offer much variety

  • May feel repetitive

This is a great gratitude journal for beginners who don’t know where to start. The exercises help the user build a habit of daily journaling, with prompts walking them through what to think about. Also, the journal comes in both traditional paperback format, as well as a spiral-bound version that makes it easier to write in.

Lastly, we know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the design on this one is especially nice.

Final Verdict

For those with less time, but who still want to establish a practice of gratitude, The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal (view at Amazon) is a great choice. It allows users to easily take a look back at what has changed in their lives since they started journaling. Plus, it requires a minimal time commitment.

For those looking for a gratitude journal they can take at their own pace, Even Happier (view at Amazon) is your best option. It’s available as an audiobook so you have a chance to listen to the prompts, and we love that it’s grounded in research—specifically, the principles of positive psychology that author Tal Ben-Shahar taught in a popular course at Harvard University.

What to Look For in a Gratitude Journal

Prompts

Many gratitude journals come with a variety of prompts to help the user get started. But, as Manly points out, not all prompts are equally helpful. “If you’re purchasing a gratitude journal, make sure that any pre-printed prompts resonate with you,” she says. “Some people find pre-selected prompts to be a true benefit, whereas others find them irritating.” According to Manly, different types of prompts include romantic relationships, friendships, family, food, nature, free time, and life’s unexpected surprises.  

Structure

There is no single correct template for the structure of gratitude journals, and Magavi recommends choosing one based on your story and personality. “Some individuals fare better with more structure and guidance, while others excel with more space and freedom to be creative and fluid,” Magavi explains. “Some individuals enjoy journaling freely, while others prefer completing daily tasks and gratitude worksheets.”

Cost

A good gratitude journal needn’t be costly. “An inexpensive notebook can do the trick for those who enjoy creating their own prompts, or free-association gratitude journaling,” Magavi says. And ultimately, what you get out of a gratitude journal depends almost entirely on what you put into it—not whether it has heavyweight paper, a visually appealing cover, or fun fonts.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a gratitude journal?

    A gratitude journal is a notebook or other space devoted to writings focused on the blessings in one’s life. “While other journals can be spaces for free association, planning, or simply venting, a gratitude journal is devoted specifically for thoughts of gratitude,” Manly says.

    Gratitude journals not only provide an outlet for identifying and acknowledging aspects of our life we’re grateful for, but they also give us the chance to express ourselves in different ways. For example, Magavi says that some individuals even draw pictures linked to the content and share their journal and gratitude with others.

  • How do you start a gratitude journal?

    There is no “right” or “wrong” way to start a gratitude journal—it’s all about finding an approach that works best for you. You can start by buying a simple notebook, or even expressing your thoughts in an email draft.

    “The key is to have a specific, sacred space that is designed solely for the expression of gratitude,” Manly says. “You can use a journal that offers prompts, you can create your own prompts, or you can simply go with what pops into your mind. Keeping a consistent gratitude journal is a wonderful, ongoing reminder of the importance of living in gratitude.”  

    Magavi advises her patients to complete short journal entries on a daily basis, without fixating on grammar and punctuation, and to journal at a specific time of the day, which helps create a routine. “I advise individuals to write letters to themselves and others, and short positive messages and lists,” she adds. “Some individuals benefit from picking two or three things they are grateful for each day and writing these things down."

  • Why do gratitude journals work?

    It’s important to note that like any other exercise to improve our mental well-being, gratitude journals don’t work for everyone.
     “Some people don’t find gratitude journals effective, particularly if it feels like one more chore to be accomplished,” Manly explains. “And those who suffer from serious, chronic mental health issues may not feel able to gather the energy or focus to write in a gratitude journal, so the task can trigger feelings of overwhelm or hopelessness.”

    But for those who do believe they are getting something out of writing in a gratitude journal, there are a variety of different benefits. “Journaling helps individuals gain clarity and understand themselves better,” Magavi says. “A gratitude journal can allow individuals to pinpoint the positive aspects of their day-to-day life, and consequently, dissipate negative and distressing sentiments. Individuals can rejoice about any small victory.”

    By allowing people to learn how to prioritize their needs and emotions over society expectations, Magavi says that writing in a gratitude journal can help alleviate anxiety and boost a person’s mood.

    “Using a gratitude journal can be very beneficial to overall mental health by creating a more mindful way of being,” Manly explains. “Gratitude journaling increases a state of inner calm due to the focus required to turn inward for self-reflection. This, on its own, engages the calming parasympathetic nervous system.” 

  • What should you put in a gratitude journal?

    Magavi advises her patients to list things they are thankful for physically, emotionally, and spiritually every morning and evening. “I also recommend individuals to think about and write down the things and people they are thankful for in their life,” she says. “Writing thank-you letters to loved ones, or simply thanking others could release neurochemicals responsible for happiness, motivation, and the alleviation of stress.”

    In general, Manly says that it’s best to be as specific as possible when writing in a gratitude journal. “Specificity allows the mind and spirit to focus on the uplifting details that are often missed when we are busy or stressed,” she explains. “Journaling reflections focused on relationships and life’s unexpected joys often yield significant mood-boosting results.”

    For example, Manly says that rather than writing, “I am grateful for my best friend,” a more specific reflection might be, “I feel so blessed to have Erika in my life. She is a constant source of support and kindness. I am so grateful to have a friend who has such integrity, compassion, and love in her heart.” This more specific type of journaling generates a more intentional, uplifting focus. Gratitude can make life's challenges feel smaller and manageable.

Why Trust Verywell Mind

Emily Stone's research has led her to a deeper understanding of how the brain functions as well as what feeds into happiness. Gratitude can often be drowned out by the day’s headlines or an unpleasant encounter. By taking even one minute in the morning or before bed to reflect on the positive, we can significantly benefit both physically and emotionally.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Yuko.

As a seasoned health writer and editor with a special focus on mental health and well-being, Elizabeth Yuko understands how powerful stress-relieving activities can be for many people—as well as the fact that they’re not one-size-fits-all. With decades of first-hand experience dealing with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, she’s always on the lookout for new (and research-backed) products, techniques, and services that can help people cope with stress and other mental health challenges.

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  1. Emmons RA, Stern R. Gratitude as a psychotherapeutic intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2013;69(8):846-855. doi:10.1002/jclp.22020