3 Easy Ways to Take Your Gratitude Journaling to the Next Level | by Lynda Monk CPCC

Happy Client with Gratitude Journal

Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

As coaches, we are in the transformational field of helping people to improve their lives. Whether you're a life coach, health and wellness coach, leadership coach, business coach or a coach in any other niche area, using skills, tools and processes that can help your clients be the best version of themselves and reach their goals is part of the coaching agenda.

Keeping a gratitude journal is an increasingly popular tool and life practice used by those seeking to improve and grow themselves. In this article, I will share three ways you can take this tool to the next level in your coaching!

But first, I highly recommend engaging in gratitude journaling for yourself as a coach before inviting your clients to journal. Why? Because journaling of any kind is a powerful practice, and it's valuable to have first-hand experience with both its benefits and its impacts before inviting your clients to the page.

Why Gratitude Journaling?

Gratitude—along with our ability to express it and connect with it—not only feels good, but has many other benefits. And research shows1 that people who regularly practice gratitude sleep better, experience greater self-esteem and have improved psychological and physical health. Evidence has shown that being thankful is a beneficial habit.

Does gratitude journaling require its own separate journal?

There are no rules on whether to keep separate journals in different areas; for example, some people keep a travel journal, dream journal, goals journal, planning journal, garden journal, career journal, writer's journal and, of course, a gratitude journal. There is also the catch-all journal where everything goes. Journaling is one of those things that you make your own, and your clients can too!

Some people choose to keep a separate gratitude journal devoted to their lists and writing about all the things they are grateful for in their daily life. I have one client who starts her day writing about what she is grateful for, and another client who ends her day in this same way. Their gratitude journaling is kept separate from the broader journaling they do.

But I don't keep a separate gratitude journal. Rather, I weave it into my one and only 8½ by 11 spiral-bound, blank-page journal. My journal is a catch-all place for expressing and capturing my ideas, feelings, challenges, problem-solving, brainstorming, project notes, lists, poems, quotes, clippings or images, goals, hopes, dreams, desires and, yes, gratitude.

From the pages of my journal:Lynda's Gratitude Journaling Poppy!

There is nothing too small to be grateful for. This morning I noticed the first poppy growing from seeds I planted a couple of months ago. We are living amidst a record dry spell with over 45 days without rain. The ground is hard despite our regular efforts to water. I was so happy and grateful to see this poppy break through and reveal its pink beauty. This poppy is extra special since Darlene gifted me the poppy seeds from her garden last year. Seeing this flower makes me think of her. Our friendship, which started when we were four years old, has endured many conditions, including "dry patches" where long periods of time can pass between our visits or phone calls. Our friendship is lifelong—something we can both count on no matter what. I am grateful for flowers and friendship as I begin this new day.

As you can see from this unedited excerpt from my journal, gratitude journaling can simply weave into the broader context of what you might be writing about. If I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed or in need of an energetic boost, I know that I can grab my journal and spend a few minutes writing about what I am grateful for, and it's always uplifting.

It's powerful to have simple practices in our daily lives that help shift our thinking, shape our mood, and give us energy and a positive perspective. In this way, gratitude journaling is a tool for mental wellness and more.

You may be curious as to how one goes beyond simply listing what one is grateful for. Here are some ideas to help you and your clients deepen your gratitude journaling journey.

3 Ways to Take Gratitude Journaling to the Next Level

1. Use journal prompts that cultivate gratitude

Most people are familiar with the popular idea of keeping a gratitude journal. Whether you keep a specific gratitude journal or not, you can weave gratitude journaling into the pages of your journal and invite your clients to do the same.

Good questions, which are one of our most impactful tools as coaches, also make great journaling prompts. You can offer prompts that are aimed at cultivating insight as well as gratitude. Here are some to get you started—try them for yourself. And they make great coaching homework/playwork for your clients too!

  • What was the best thing that happened in your life or work in the last week?
  • What milestones have you reached that make you proud and grateful?
  • Write about someone whose life is better because of you. Why is this so?
  • What would you like to be thanked or appreciated for?

2. Engage in gratitude journaling within a coaching session

I know that the typical way coaches integrate journaling into their coaching, if at all, is to suggest that their clients journal between sessions. I often do this; in particular, I will give them some specific journaling prompts to work with flowing from the session itself. I simply send these personalized and relevant journaling prompts to my clients by email.

I also like to integrate journaling into the coaching session itself. For example, I will pause at the end of a coaching session and ask people to note what they're grateful for from the coaching session. I might give them a moment to do a timed gratitude writing in the moment (short—for example, two minutes) and then invite them to read what they wrote to me. Sometimes, I will write as well and we'll both share our gratitude writing and reflections at the end of the session. This models and taps into the value of gratitude within the coaching itself.

Gratitude itself can enrich the benefits of coaching!

3. Embody gratitude

Gratitude is something that we can notice, express, write, speak and embody. Years ago, well after I became a certified coach, I trained in body-centered coaching with Marlena Field. I remember an activity where we learned how to give acknowledgement to a client in a body-centered coaching way.

This same thing can be done by inviting our clients to think of something they are grateful for and then guiding them through a body-centered coaching exercise, asking them to notice where they feel gratitude in their body:

  • Does it have a shape, a colour, a sensation?
  • If this feeling of gratitude in their body could speak, what would it say?
  • You could also invite them to write their responses down so the exercise becomes a form of body-centered gratitude journaling.

You can expand on this and invite your clients to do a visual journaling activity, such as the following (you can also try this for yourself):

  • Visualize what you feel mentally, physically and emotionally when you're connected to the energy of gratitude.
  • Write down how it feels in detail.
  • You can also draw your response and do a visual or art journaling exercise with this prompt.

Gratitude Journaling gives us more Mindful Moments

So much of life can be filled with longing and striving and accomplishing. Gratitude is a practice of appreciating what is already here now. Taking time for a gratitude practice is a way of pausing to notice: What do you want that you already have?

Noticing what you're thankful for without longing for anything more is a powerful practice that can be grounding, calming and meaningful all at once. This mindful, present-moment pause can benefit coaches and clients alike!

From Journaling to Action…

It's important to live gratefully on and off the page! How can we take gratitude journaling one step further?

Try asking your client what awareness they have gained from this gratitude journaling experience: What is one action they would like to take in their life based on this awareness?

In this way, you engage the important bridge we must cross in our coaching work, which is going from awareness to action.

Wrap-up

Your turn to pause and reflect

I invite you to take a few quiet moments to reflect. You might even want to open your journal or a notebook and jot down your responses to the following questions:

  • What are some of the ways that you bring gratitude into your work as a coach?
  • How important do you think gratitude is to you and your coaching business?
  • How have you seen gratitude improve your life? Your clients' lives?

Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there is always something we could be grateful for. Barry Neil Kaufman

Lastly, I want to thank Emma-Louise for having me as a guest writer. And, thank YOU for reading this article.

Reference:

1 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude from a 2015 Psychology Today article.

Lynda Gratitude Journaling Book Cover

Special gift

If you want a wealth of ideas on how to use gratitude journaling in your own life and also in your coaching work, I invite you to access your FREE gift:

If you liked this article on gratitude journaling, you may also like:

Lynda Monk Headshot

Contributing Author:

Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. Lynda regularly writes, speaks, and teaches about the transformational and healing power of writing. She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection (2014), and co-editor of Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients: A Complete Guide to the Benefits of Personal Writing (2021). You can find her FREE gift for coaches here: Gratitude Journaling for Coaches & Clients Workbook.

Learn more about Lynda & see all their articles here >>

Image of Client with journal and coloured pencils to do Gratitude Journaling by krakenimages via Kraken Images

4 Comments

    • Michela Phillips

      You are most welcome, Joseph! So glad you found this article helpful 🙂
      - Kindly, Michela

      Reply
  1. Trevor N Lewis

    Great article! I would like to add to it with some new research from ReaserchGate.net via Daniel Pink (I have no connection to either.
    It boils down to the powerful effects of asking "What would my life be like if [name your favourite person/things] had never come into my life?"
    By looking at the effects of removing that one thing/person we can become all the more grateful.

    More at... https://www.danpink.com/pinkcast/pinkcast-3-02-want-to-feel-more-grateful-this-simple-mental-trick-will-help/

    or, more academically, at ... researchgate.net/publication/23422014_It's_a_Wonderful_Life_Mentally_Subtracting_Positive_Events_Improves_People's_Affective_States_Contrary_to_Their_Affective_Forecasts

    Reply

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