Grace Notes

a blog about life’s everyday magic

March 27, 2024

A Smaller Take on Gratitude Journals

Gratitude Journal

Words: Christen Hammons
Photo credit: Gillian Vann

Most of us have, at some point, made it a goal of ours to start a gratitude practice, usually in the form of a journal. We also likely followed the same guidelines, winding down at night by writing three things we were grateful for that day. And, if you’re like me, you overthought it, wrote down the same things each day — something broad and unspecific — and became bored with the routine.

Gratitude Journals: A Smaller Take

After reading “Little Pieces of Hope: Happy-Making Things in a Difficult Word” by Todd Doughty, I was moved to have fun with my gratitude practice. You see, the author wrote a book full of some of the most tiny, yet specific things for which he was grateful. Things like “Having the remote control all to yourself,” “Mastering the eyelash curler,” and “Funny-shaped ice cubes.” Of course, I have big things in my life to be grateful for, like my health and a stable job that I love. But there are also so many things I encounter or experience every day — most of them so small and seemingly insignificant — that I am thankful for, but by waiting until the end of the day to acknowledge and appreciate them, I will likely forget them by the time I pull out my journal. 

To help with my journey to create a gratitude practice that was all my own, I’ve turned to technology, something I rarely do. Throughout my day, when something sparks joy in my heart or makes me feel grateful for experiencing it, I make a voice note right away. I say things into my phone like, “Silly socks peeking out from a business suit,” and “A piece of chocolate so decadent it made me close my eyes for a moment.” I dusted off my journal, and each night I listen to the notes I left myself throughout the day, smiling as I write them down, happy to revisit the things that brought me such joy. 

Sure, some of these things might seem silly, and perhaps in some ways they are, but on those days when it’s hard to feel grateful for much of anything, I’m especially thankful for these tiny joys that serve as big reminders that there is still happiness to be found all around me. And the more I make an effort to express my gratitude for them, the more I find them. 

Small Moments of Joy

Here are some of the small moments of joy I wrote in my gratitude journal last week, one that was especially stressful: 

  • The stray cat on our street stopping in front of me to ask for belly rubs
  • Customers and crew at my local market singing “Happy Birthday” to a 5-year-old girl wearing her special birthday dress
  • A thunderstorm that came and went in a matter of minutes
  • The driver of the car next to me listening to my favorite song from eighth grade
  • A few dollars in my wallet when the ice cream truck came down our street
  • Perfectly painted fingernails
  • The bright citrusy smell of a perfectly ripe clementine
  • Babies wearing silly sunglasses
  • Five of the same cars (in the same color) being parked in a line

Tell me, what have been some of your recent little pockets of gratitude?


Discover gratitude journaling prompts to practice daily in Field Guide To Everyday Magic magazine.

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Comments ( 5 )

  1. Caryn D, Ottawa CA

    March 30, 2024 at 12:03 pm

    Love this. Excellent idea about the voice notes and keeping track throughout the day. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Letitia Short

    April 5, 2024 at 4:16 am

    It is amazing how many wonderful moments there are in a day. It is nice that you try to capture them through voice recordings and then writing them down. I feel blessed to have many magical moments in my day. They are what makes life so special.

  3. Crystal

    April 8, 2024 at 2:38 am

    Love this take on gratitude journaling and it was an enjoyable read; especially seeing the things that made your journal entry.

    Also, the accompanying photo is everything. A great idea to try in one’s teens and 20s, before hands get full with precious little ones like mine are now.

    Perhaps I will try it when my kids are older.


  4. Julia O'Donovan

    April 9, 2024 at 11:46 am

    I love the idea of simplifying. Oftentimes things that are supposed to help – like gratitude lists – become these high-pressure tasks where certain standards must be met. Something that I am always grateful for is having the precise amount of an ingredient I need left in the container. I especially love it when it’s exact down to the exact gram! 💛

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