Happiness Series – Expressing Gratitude in My Bullet Journal and Planner

I’m kicking off the Happiness Series with one of my absolute favorites — Expressing Gratitude. I’m grateful for so many things in my life, and I often think about how lucky I am in so many ways. However — I also think a lot about injustices, worries, fears, insecurities… The truth is, our heads are always full of both good and bad thoughts, so thinking about what I’m grateful for just isn’t enough. This activity begins with the most important word: expressing.

In the book, The How of Happiness, professor Lyubomirsky describes research that shows how expressing gratitude can not only bolster positive emotion and happiness, but it can also have health benefits. Sounds like a win-win to me! This is such a simple activity and it was delightful to set aside time in both my journal and my photography to intentionally and mindfully express my gratitude.

Two Weeks Later – My Results of Expressing Gratitude!

As you probably guessed, spending time focusing on what I am grateful for did indeed help me feel happier. 🙂 I think what surprised me was how it also fed my creativity! I tried different ways of expressing my gratitude, which helped me explore not only how I want to express it, but also how I want to reflect back on my gratitude in the future. This was something I hadn’t considered when I started this activity!

I found that putting some creativity behind the activity means I am spending much more time being mindful within the space of gratitude. You’ll see below that I tried various creative ways to express my gratitude to try and understand what works best for me.

Gratitude Expressions in the Bullet Journal

I had already been practicing making a very simple, short list of things I am grateful for in bullet format. (In the photo below, I decided to show my March list, since it’s several weeks of entries). This is really nice because it only takes a moment, but after really thinking about this — is this the best way to reflect in the moment about what you’re grateful for? I decided that this bullet-list format is best suited for:

  • Days when I am tired or not feeling well, but I still want to capture something I’m grateful for. It only takes a moment to write something down.
  • Great for tracking and reflecting — it’s easy to scan the list later to see how you felt over the month and get a quick look at many reasons to be grateful. Could be great for “down days”.

My next activity was to sit down and write about a specific thing I was grateful for. To go with my March list, I decided to think about what happened in March that made me feel grateful. Since Spring is one of my favorite times of the year, I chose to write about why I love Spring so much. This long-form intentional writing exercise felt amazing because I could just write out what I was feeling about the season and what I experienced. It felt less constrained because I could have bullet lists within the paragraphs, if I wanted to.

I also spent some time drawing in my journal to illustrate one of my favorite things about Spring and I found this to be very soothing and peaceful. (I can’t wait to get into the “Flow” activity in a few weeks!)

Grateful layout for bullet journal and planner

Gratitude Expressions Through Photography

During the second week, I found myself very tired after work and chose to nap most days so that I could have some meaningful family time over dinner and into the early evening. So, I saved my photography experiment for the weekend.

For me, the entire act of finding the right subject, setting up the shot, photographing, editing and adding an affirmation feels amazing and creative. Since that’s generally a lot of work, I don’t see myself doing this activity during the week very often. Instead, I had this fun idea of making “Grateful for…” cards during the weekend and then printing them out as inserts for my planner! Since I don’t have many blooming flowers in the garden yet, I used photos I had taken a few summers back.

Grateful cards for planners and bullet journal

Maybe this has sparked some ideas or you’d like to share how you express your gratitude? Perhaps you get creative with paint or you record vlogs! I’d love to hear from you in the comments or you can reach out to me at jess@pineconepapers.com!

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  1. Jessica | 19th Jun 17

    Hello! I have not started bullet journaling yet, but I know I want to…would you be able to share what types of journals you use? I tried to find it on here myself, I’m sorry I probably missed it! Your site is great, thanks!!

    • jess | 21st Jun 17

      Hey there! Thanks so much for your kind words – I’m so glad you like the site. 🙂 I am currently using the Happy Planner as a bullet journal. It’s a little different from how others do it, but it works great for me! (I’m posting about my hybrid method very soon!). I have also used traditional journals often used for bullet journaling, which I list out on my Tools page here: https://pineconepapers.com/tools/ If you’re just getting started, I recommend the Essentials journal since it’s a bit less spendy than the Leuchtturm1917 (which is what most bullet journalists use). I’d love to answer any other questions you may have! 🙂

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