Best gratitude journals recommended by mental health experts
With constant notifications bringing catastrophic news in a world primed for chaos, it's easy to fall into a heavy mindset of doom and gloom. One great habit you can pick up to combat this cycle of depressing events is to recognize that for which you are grateful, and to write these things down in a dedicated journal to help lock it into your mindset.
Whether it's taking three minutes to jot down something good that happened to you or an in-depth look at your day and how its events affected your mood, different gratitude journals are built to handle different needs.
We asked for suggestions from therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who believe in this routine to tell us some of their favorites on the market, and the answers they gave were as individual and varied as each person's daily experience.
The following represent a few of our top picks among their choices offered that reach a wide breadth of journaling needs, and many have fun twists on the standard format so you can log away while throwing a little joy in the mix.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Our first journal comes from Viktor Sander, a counselor at SocialPro specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships who tells us:
"I recommend is the Panda Daily Planner. It's relatively cheap, practical, and makes sense from a scientific perspective: Gratitude exercises are shown to increase well-being, but many gratitude journals are geared toward the law of attraction and similar concepts that I as a therapist do not feel comfortable recommending."
The Panda, according to Viktor, is just another productivity planner that has a small built-in section dedicated to gratitude built into its already useful construction, making it an ideal choice for those looking to dip their toes in the gracious waters without a big daily commitment.
Everything Sucks: A Gratitude Journal For People Who Have Been Through Some Sh*t
This journal markets itself as “the gratitude journal for people who hate gratitude journals” and will never have you rolling your eyes over its affirmations or instructions. With 2020 and its bountiful horrors just in the rearview, we’re all people who have “been through some sh*t,” so invest in one of these if you need a realistic and humorous way to record your thoughts, grievances, and gratitude.
Charlotte Hamilton, the founder and CEO of betternessmanifesto.org and a Positive Psychology Practitioner, gave us the heads-up on another great option for those who want to incorporate gratitude but don't have much time to dedicate: The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change. A bestseller with over a million sold, the journal offers "approachable and structured exercises" that promise to enhance the innate graciousness already within each user.
Another upside is Intelligent Change's current discount code of "GIVEtoGET10" which will save you 10%, then the company will turn around and donate another 10% to charity.
Christine MacInnis, MS and LMFT of Transcend Therapy, gushes about her best-loved journal by naming another pro from the field, motivational speaker Rachel Hollis. "I have been fortunate to see her in person twice," says Christine, "Her energy, positivity and blueprint for gratitude and personal success is very attainable. Her journals, that come your choice of black or white covers, help you jumpstart your goals and dreams through gratitude."
93 prompt pages encourage goal-setting, dream visualizations, and plenty of room for notes, so pick up this option if you're ready to look into the future and start envisioning yourself in it now.
"The theme is simple, every day your write down and contemplate on what you are grateful for that day." Simple and easy-to-use, the journal is also the most affordable on this list, making it the ideal option for someone curious but not committed to the idea of recording their gratitude.
Even Happier: A Gratitude Journal for Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
Dr. Thomas McDonagh, Psy.D., is a leading San Francisco-based clinical psychologist, anxiety expert, and founder of Good Therapy SF who came to us with a handful of options for gratitude journals he's encountered over the years, so we chose two to highlight here.
The first of those two is Even Happier: A Gratitude Journal for Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, which Dr. McDonagh learned of through a client who swore by it. "When I looked into it," he explains, "I liked how the skills are presented and are useful for any interest level. Plus, the author is well known in the field."
The Gratitude Journal: A Fresh New Start In 90 Days
"What I like about this is the simplicity," Dr. McDonagh says of this second suggestion that offers three months' worth of simple operations that will lead you to focus on the good in your life and eschew intrusive negative thoughts that could hold you back from cultivating positive change. The doctor adds, "There are clear directions and easy prompts that make this a realistic practice in modern life."
Up next is one for those who refuse to take anything too seriously and prefer a heavy dose of sarcasm with their meaningful rituals. Ashleigh Edelstein, LMFT from Austin Therapy and EMDR, says of Let That Sh*t Go:
"I have personally used this and love its humorous take on how to cultivate gratitude and let things go through profanity-laced journaling exercises and writing prompts." If you're prone to mumbling curse words or maybe sometimes shaking a fist in anger at the sky, this hilarious tool is right up your vulgar little alley.
Gratitude Journal: Questions, Prompts, and Coloring Pages for a Brighter, Happier Life
Dr. Sarvenaz Sepehri is a licensed clinical psychologist who has conducted psychotherapy and psychological testing with children, adolescents, and adults, with an emphasis in Therapeutic Assessment, which she explains is "a collaborative approach to psychological assessment aimed at diagnosing clinical presentations, planning treatments, and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions."
She first told us about Tiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal: Questions, Prompts, and Coloring Pages for a Brighter, Happier Life.
"This journal has many focused questions that encourage you to take stock of your present life, bringing your values into the foreground and fostering gratitude," Dr. Sepehri explains. “It also includes several coloring pages which can be therapeutic and soothing to your mind."
Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude
"It's the simplicity behind this book that's great for anyone new to journaling," Dr. Sepehri tells us of this journal that offers a full year of practices meant to change your outlook on tracking and analyzing your various state of mind throughout that time. "It's flexible and invites you to openly reflect on your gratitude daily and how this new practice is impacting your life."
If that isn't a glowing enough review, consider the Good Days journal is also a #1 best seller in Amazon's "Personal Time Management" section and has nearly 5,000 four and five star reviews.
Start With Gratitude: Daily Gratitude Journal | Positivity Diary for a Happier You in Just 5 Minutes a Day
Licensed clinical psychologist Dr Kim Chronister came to us next, touting the benefits of starting each day with gratitude as the aptly named Star With Gratitude journal suggests.
"I recommend this particular gratitude journal because it gives you prompts in case you draw a blank," Dr. Chronister says of the options like "music I enjoyed" or "food I enjoyed" that you'll find inside, noting, "It also gives the person the opportunity to record memories in addition to making gratitude lists and completing reflections."
An average review of 4.7 out of 5 stars also bodes well for the success of this journal, making it a beautiful, affordable, and helpful option on your wellness journey.
The 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids: A Journal to Teach Children to Practice Gratitude and Mindfulness
Now that you’ve browsed through journals for yourself, we decided to toss in a bonus for the youngins in your life.
This 3-minute gratitude journal for kids allows your children (or those close to you) the chance to start building healthy practices early through list-making segments that allow plenty of room for doodles and coloring should they want to draw pictures to back up their blessings.
Meant to cultivate gratitude during a very impressionable time in those little ones’ lives, the book is cheap and easy way to set your children on their way to a life filled with happiness and positive thinking through teaching them to look around with love for at least a few minutes each day.
Many journals, here and elsewhere, are geared toward women and thus contain flowery language and imagery that can be off-putting for men and other masc folks looking to take stock of their daily feelings and presence.
MindJournal is specifically created to combat that by applying practical techniques and clean aesthetics to its useful cues and guided practices. Different pages provide different prompts and space to jot down how you feel, some intentions and achievements, and what you’re grateful for that day. Some unique features include:
–a signature check-in tool
–three months of journaling
–three stages of self-discovery
–30 exercises to bring you reduced stress, clarity, and improved focus
Buy for the man in your life who needs a quick and easy way to feel less bombarded by the intensity of daily life to show him you love him and truly care about his well-being.
With a 12-week overview, allotted space for daily check-ins, and room to note your thoughts, dreams, feelings, habits, and gratitude, this is a fantastically streamlined journal that allows you the freedom to write about your day as you wish. The aesthetics are also modern and attractive, which make the experience all the more enjoyable.