On day 1 of adopting a gratitude practice such as The Five Minute Journal, it may be fine and dandy to say “I’m grateful for the sunny” day. By the end of the week, being grateful for the weather can seem really REPETITIVE.

Today, I’ll talk about  4 ways how to keep gratitude fresh so you can keep the good vibes flowing for years to come.

 1. Get Specific

The more detailed you get with gratitude, the more impactful it will be. Saying “I am grateful for Mom” is nice IF you connect with the feeling behind it. But it can quickly feel repetitive saying this for several weeks in a row. Sorry Mom.

To remedy this, pick something specific like “I am grateful for Mom’s laugh” or “I am grateful for Mom not telling me to clean my room as an adult."

You want enough detail so you can VISUALIZE the gratitude and FEEL it. This is key. If you are doing The Five Minute Journal and need more room to write, simply scratch out the numbers.

2. Use Negative Visualization

Odds are you have (or are considering) a gratitude practice in the first place is because you find it easy to be a critic rather than a celebrator. Most people do. In psychology, they call this the Negativity bias.

Now is the time to use this to your advantage. Instead of visualizing all the good in your life, imagine it was all taken away.

Goodbye puppy. Goodbye good health. Goodbye dream job.

Kind of jarring isn’t it and perhaps a bit morbid? Well, this used to be an old Stoic exercise that put the things you value into perspective real quick. The Stoics would even take it as far to dress in their worst clothes or go without food for a day to take it further. For our purposes, we’ll keep it strictly to gratitude journaling :)

Imagine you did not have your foot. Imagine you did not have your phone for a day (the horror!). Imagine you lost your best friend. Doing this exercise is often one of the most powerful.

3. Use Gratitude Categories

For all you planners out there, you’ll love this one. Instead of trying to randomly think of gratitudes each day, we’ll add a bit of structure to gratitude. It’s simple.

Pick a gratitude category for each day of the week. It could look like this:

  • Monday = gratitude for romantic relationship
  • Tuesday = gratitude for relationships besides romantic relationship
  • Wednesday = gratitude about myself
  • Thursday = gratitude about things I own
  • Friday = gratitude about the world
  • Saturday = gratitude about friends
  • Sunday = gratitude about how my negative qualities could be positive qualities.


4. Share your gratitude with others

Although on the surface this seems simple, telling others how awesome they are can still feel weird. Will they think I have an agenda? Will they think I’m weird? They probably already know how I feel about them?

Gratitude is all about the emotion. If you just intellectually THINK about gratitude without feeling, you are receiving little psychological boost. Sharing your gratitudes with others can take the emotion to the next level.

YouTube Channel SoulPancake decided to test this by having participants call those closest to them and share their gratitudes. The results were dramatic.

A 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough found that keeping a daily gratitude journal leads to not just an increased sense of well-being but also better sleep, willingness to accept change, and also helped lower symptoms of physical pain. So keep your gratitude practice fresh!

Want all this in a simple PDF for handy reference? Get the Gratitude Journal Guide PDF Here.

Written By

Kevin Evans

Head of Growth and Marketing at Intelligent Change. I have my hands in all things from emails to product creation. Passionate about improving mental health education, fitness, and nutrition. Sucker for donuts. You can find me in sweet home Chicago.


  • Great post! Thanks so much for sharing a way to be grateful by focusing on different aspects of life. Another way that I teach younger kids is by using your hand as a reminder of who to appreciate.

    For example:
    Thumb: be grateful for those who are positive and encourage you
    Pointer finger: be grateful for what you have (things, abilities, experiences) (use the pointer finger to point to yourself)
    Middle finger: be grateful for who you respect in the community, in the world
    Ring finger: be grateful for those you are committed to (your romantic relationship, family)
    Pinky finger: be grateful for the simplest blessings.

    Gratitude is far by the secret to wealth!



  • Hi! I have one question, does the app and the 5 minute journal book have the same information? I mean questions and excercise?


  • Thank you very, very much for the Love that you have shown by means of the 5MJ and the Productivity Planner. I’ve used the 5MJ for 3 consecutive weeks now and it has enabled me to more fully embody and give the Love that I am. I can’t wait for the Productivity Planner to further my boundless growth. You guys are fricken awesome, and continue growing in Love and ways to give of your Love. That’s all that matters in the end anyway.

    -Alexander the Awesome

    Alexander Cuadrado

  • Happy New Year!

    As I sat down to start my new 2017 journal it was lovely to be able to go back and see all the entries I had made for the entire 2016 year. It started with being grateful for finding your journal and how it has made difference for me.

    I wanted to give back and share some other things I have done with your journal template.

    1. At end of day I go back and check all the items “what would make today great?” and love being surprised that they DID happen just as I had requested?

    2. I actually never fill in “how could I have made today better?” as I find this to be a negative question. And prefer to go to sleep in a positive mindset after reflecting on " the amazing things that happened today…."

    I just noticed your app and might try that instead of paper journal. I wonder if has searching capabilities to see a summary of all the things asked and all the things received giving the individual feedback that being positive and journaling as the research has shown is in fact working for them.


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