How to start a journaling habit that will make you happier

One habit that has made me happier this year is to start a tiny journal where I record gratitude, a favorite memory, and a prayer or intention.  For years I felt only guilt about not keeping up with a journal. This tiny journal has WORKED for me, and has brought me surprising benefits as well. Keeping it small and extremely focused has helped me be successful. I explain all about how this works for me in the video below. If you don’t want to watch the video, keep reading…






For 2017 I decided I needed to try something TOTALLY different. I wanted to do better at tracking the important events in my life, and I also had a personal goal of growing closer to God. I knew I needed to create a habit that was simple, fast and somewhat fun, or it would never happen.
THE KEY TO MY SUCCESS was writing very short, very specific bulleted entries, in what I call my “mini-journal”. (This was before I even learned about this new craze of bullet journalling!)

I intentionally set it up to be very SIMPLE as well as enjoyable to do.
Here are the 3 categories I decided to focus on:


I use bullet points and just write a few things I’m grateful for each day. Plus I’ve been reading for years that gratitude journalling is scientifically proven to make you happier, so I was excited to finally give it a try.

Favorite Memory of the day:

This helps me think back through the specific events of the day and remember some small moment that brought me joy. It’s also helped me pause and live in the present during the little moments of the day, because my brain starts making notes and “saving” memories in case it will become the favorite memory of the day.


I decided to write down a few things that I would focus my prayer on for that evening. This is a good time to write down my concerns, track my personal growth and remember specific people or family members. Now, when I say my prayers at night I feel like they are really focused on what I need to talk to God about, and sometimes insights and inspiration will come while I’m writing in my journal.

*Note- to make it even easier, most days, I’ll just write: G, FM, and P for my categories instead of writing out the whole words.


Some days I write very little, some days I may write more if I feel like it. Amazingly, this has been a SURPRISINGLY great journal of my life. The big and the small moments are all captured in this tiny little journal. THIS has totally transformed my journalling AND helped me reach my goal of growing closer to God. I don’t need to write pages and pages to keep a good record of our lives. Each little entry captures moments with my family or friends that are really important to me, and it’s also helping me feel like I’m living a life of gratitude and purpose, and personal growth. Ultimately, this little habit has made me happier than anything else that I’ve done this year.

Here’s what to do:

Purchase a small pretty, notebook.

Mine is just 5″x4.” It’s CRITICAL that it be a smaller notebook because you want to feel successful after writing very little. I keep my notebook out on my nightstand as a reminder to write in it, so I wanted it to be pretty! (I purchased my notebook at Walmart for just a few dollars, but I’ve linked to a good option here and at the bottom of this post.)

Buy some great pens.

I know this may seem silly or unnecessary, but seriously, having pens that I really look forward to writing with make me soooo much more excited about writing in my mini-journal. A friend bought these little Japanese beauties and I was so jealous I just had to have some of my own. They are fantastic little pens that I look forward to writing with.

Decide what categories you want to include

Keep it to 3 or less and things that are easy to list. Do what feels right to YOU and fits YOUR personality.

Set some ground rules.

Are you going to write in it every night? If you miss a night are you going to stop? I’m someone who knows I will forget, so I had to tell myself that it was okay if I didn’t write in it every night. I’ve written regularly 4-5 times a week for 3 months now, and I’m GOOD with that.

Let me know if you try it!

Below are links to my favorite pens, and a notebook that might work for you. I’d love to hear if you try this, or if you keep a gratitude or prayer journal, I’d love to hear about what you do as well!





Gina, author of

is a passionate educator, mom to 4 wild and wonderful children, loves to travel and eat lots of snacks. Gina taught high school English as well as home-schooled her own children for several years. As a result, she loves talking about books, literacy, and how to help your children become better readers. Gina knows how much power moms have in their families, and is excited to share tips for moms about how to have smarter, happier homes. Follow Gina on Instagram @smarthappymom or

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