Writing Exercises to Promote Gratitude

The air is getting cooler, the leaves are falling, and pumpkin spice is in everything. That can only mean one thing—’tis the season for gratitude!

Thanksgiving is such a special holiday because we get to take a deep breath and reflect on what we already have. What a gift! It can get pretty overwhelming to be part of a culture in which we are constantly comparing ourselves to others’ Instagram profiles or Snapchat stories. We often forget that what we have and who we are is enough, and we should be thankful.

So this Thanksgiving, we want to spread the gratitude. Here are some suggestions and writing prompts to help you feel full of thanks, whenever you might want a boost:

1. Gratitude list: The tried-and-true standby! This is as simple as it sounds—make a list of all the things you are grateful for. It can be a daily practice, maybe in the morning or right before bed. You can keep a special journal with your lists, or a spot on your phone. You can list as many things as you can think of, or aim for a certain amount each time you write.

2. Thanks for being a friend: Often when we reflect on what we are thankful for, it’s the relationships we hold dear. Next time you sit down to write, think about a time when someone you love really supported you. Write a letter about how much that support meant to you. You don’t have to send it, but you could use it as inspiration to send a quick message of appreciation! Imagine how nice it would be to receive a text like that.

3. Wallpaper: Be honest—how many times do you look at your phone during the day? A lot? We know. Why not use that prime real estate intentionally? Each week (or each day if you’re an overachiever), replace your lock screen with something you are grateful for. You can even screenshot one of your gratitude lists and make that your lock screen!

4. Grateful for me: We often have an easy time giving thanks to others, but not so much when it comes to thanking ourselves. You are way too amazing to be left out like that. So try keeping a list all about you! Some prompts that are useful could be “I am grateful for my ability to . . . ,” “I am grateful for my strengths in . . . ,” “I am grateful I have grown to . . . ,” or whatever calls to you. You deserve some love, too!

5. See it: Take five to ten minutes out of your day to sit quietly. It can be in your home, at a park, or even on your commute to school or work. Use your surroundings to inspire gratitude. Start by writing what you see. Then, from a perspective of gratitude, write what you see again. You might first see a tree. Through a lens of gratitude, you might be grateful for the oxygen or shade the tree provides or for the beautiful way the light is coming through the leaves. The possibilities are endless!

6. Wear your reminder: Pick a favorite piece of jewelry (or a new piece—treat yourself!), and designate it as your gratitude charm. Every time you have that piece of jewelry on or whenever you touch it, it will help you remember your attitude of gratitude!

7. Jar of thanks: Lists are cool and all, but they stay tucked away in a book. Why not take that show on the road—or to a cute little jar on your desk? Think of it as a little jar of sunshine, and at the end of the day (or as the day is happening!), write down all your happy moments! Did something make you smile? Did you make someone else smile? Write it down, put it in the jar, and watch your jar fill up!

8. Love letter to the sun, moon, and stars: Sometimes the things we forget to be grateful for are the most simple—like the sun, which warms our world and grows our food, or the moon, which causes tides and lights the night. Write a love letter to the sun and the moon, or anything you’d like. Maybe you have a favorite place or a favorite book! Maybe this evolves into a poem! Just see where it takes you.

For some quick starts, here are writing prompts for the next time you sit down in an attitude of gratitude:

  • Today, I feel grateful for              because              . With it/them, I can              . Without it/them, I              .
  • If my life was a puzzle, what are the pieces that come together to support me?
  • I am grateful for my body. Today my body was able to              .
  • Write a story about someone or something that recently made you smile.
  • Write an acrostic poem about something you are grateful for.

Did you enjoy this article on gratitude writing prompts? Discover more writing inspiration here, and get social with us at @getunderlined!

Become a Book Nerd

When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.