journaling ideas

21 awesome journaling ideas for positive thinking (+ how to use the genius cancel-cancel method)

Looking for some new journaling ideas?

I will be honest, journaling was something I did a lot as a teen, but then totally abandoned it as an adult. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but maybe I thought it was childish. Or maybe I wrongly assumed I had all my shit together.

Both of those beliefs are totally false! Experimenting with different journaling ideas is far from childish. It’s a very commonly practiced mental health activity that has changed the lives of countless people.

And I definitely don’t have my shit together.

So, how do you make it work for you? And how can it make you think more positively?

In this post, I'm going to talk about the benefits of a gratitude journal, and share 21 journaling ideas you can use every day. I also going to share a free printable of the journaling ideas, and talk about my favorite method for… Share on twitter

This is part of my series on positive thinking! You can read my last installment here: 7 helpful questions you need to ask to improve your positive thinking. The series will wrap up on Monday, August 10.

Keep reading to find out my favorite journaling ideas that you can use on a daily basis.

This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. See my Privacy and Affiliate Disclaimer pages for more info.

Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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The benefits of writing in a gratitude journal

There is a reason so many people reach to journaling on a daily basis. Actually, more than one reason!

According to Psychology Today, there are 7 reasons why keeping a gratitude journal is so beneficial for your health.

  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Being a grateful person can make it easier to build new friendships and strengthen the ones you already have.
  • It is actually good for your physical health! The article states: “Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.”
  • Gratitude also improves your mental health by reducing the number of negative emotions you experience on a day to day basis.
  • It makes us kinder people, and less prone to aggressive behavior. We’re more likely to be sensitive to the struggles of other people.
  • Writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes a night can help you sleep better!
  • It improves your self-esteem, as well. By being grateful for the things you have, it makes you less likely to compare yourself to others, which is a major reason people have low self-esteem.
  • Gratitude increases mental strength, specifically by reducing stress, and reducing the time it takes to overcome trauma.

So, as you can see, adding gratitude to your list of journaling ideas is flat out good for your health. But what else can you write about?

purple background with white text that says "21 journaling ideas for positive thinking (+ how to use the genius cancel-cancel method)" with a black and white picture of a cup of coffee, flowers and an open journal with a pen resting on it

21 simple journaling ideas to try today

If you are looking for some simple journaling ideas, you’ve come to the right place! Give one of these a try each night before bed. Or pick more than one! The options are really endless, so feel free to mix and match based on what you feel like you need that day. Journaling can really be a fantastic healing tool.

  1. 5 things you are truly grateful for (Not just oxygen and food)
  2. 1 major thing you wish was different, and some action steps you can take to achieve that.
  3. Describe the most relaxing day you can imagine.
  4. Who is your ideal partner?
  5. Who is your ideal self?
  6. If you could tell your 13 year old self anything, what would it be?
  7. If you could tell your future/current children anything, what would it be?
  8. What is your favorite inspirational quote and why?
  9. Spend 5 minutes practicing free association writing about your day. (Without stopping to edit or think)
  10. 3 negative thoughts currently in your head, and then 3 positive counter-statements
  11. When did you feel the best physically?
  12. When did you feel the best emotionally?
  13. When were you at your lowest, and how did you make it through?
  14. What was the best day of your life?
  15. Talk about your dream vacation.
  16. Do you have any regrets? Write them down and then write, “I FORGIVE YOU.”
  17. Write a letter to the person you need to forgive the most. (Either send it, or don’t.)
  18. 7 things you love about yourself
  19. What job would you be amazing at? (If education, salary, benefits, travel, location, etc did not matter)
  20. What do you need to get done tomorrow?
  21. Who is your hero and why?

Download these free printable journaling prompts

If you want to make these journaling ideas a part of your daily routine, down this free PDF set and keep it next to your journal for easy access. You can get your copy here!

How to use the genius cancel-cancel method

One of my favorite methods for thinking positively is a perfect addition to your journaling prompts. It only take a couple minutes, and it’s completely free. It’s called the cancel-cancel method.

When I say it’s simple, I really mean it! But first, let’s talk about the difference between simple and easy.

If someone says something is “simple,” they are saying it is easy to understand and implement.

The word “easy” is understood a little differently. If something is easy, we believe that it is something that will happen quickly, feel effortless, and achieve instant results.

Unfortunately, that is not the case here. And it is not the case with most solutions for changing your mindset. There are no quick and easy solutions. They all take time and patience. That’s why I say the cancel cancel method is a simple addition to your journaling routine, not easy.

journaling ideas, journal

How does it work?

As I said, it’s quite simple, and no list of journaling ideas is complete without it. I practice this on a daily basis. It’s been a hard year for me personally, and, sadly, I have needed to reach for this tool often. But it really does help!

Here is a common example of how to use the cancel cancel method in your journaling.

Step #1: Write down any negative thought as it comes up, such as: “I am going to catch Covid and die.”

Step #2: Write “Cancel-cancel.” (Or you can say it out loud!)

Step #3: Write down a positive counter-statement like: “I am taking all the precautions I can to protect my immune system and those around me. I am healthy and safe.”

See? Simple! Not easy, because it takes time and patience for it to work. But it is one of my favorite journaling ideas because it takes so little time!

You can even write the phrase cancel cancel on a Post-It and stick it to your journal itself, or your journaling ideas print out, for a reminder to try this.

Journaling is a free life changing tool

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of journaling. It’s really not super complicated. Just buy a journal, grab a pen, and start writing.

That’s really it. Set a reminder on your phone to write in your journal for 5 minutes a night to start with. You can always go for longer if you feel inspired.

Have you ever tried any of these journaling ideas? Which ones were the most helpful? Let me know in the comments! Also, please share this post on social media using the Pinterest image above, or the buttons at the top of the page, if you found it helpful. Thanks!

Try these journaling ideas and see how your happiness improves!


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Related posts for journaling ideas:

Why Journaling for Mental Health is Something You Need to Try ASAP (+ 33 Free Journaling Prompts and Templates)

Journaling: How You Can Use Writing to Improve Your Mental Health

7 helpful questions you need to ask to improve your positive thinking

51 positive quotes of encouragement to help you conquer 2020

66 thoughts on “21 awesome journaling ideas for positive thinking (+ how to use the genius cancel-cancel method)”

  1. Such an inspiring blog post! I love writing in my journal. Thank you for providing uplifting and thought provoking journal prompts. I appreciate you.

    1. Hey Latisha, thanks so much! You are so kind. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my posts πŸ™‚ Glad you found it helpful!

    1. Hey Kristen, I love gratitude journal. Gratitude sometimes get overlooked because it seems like such an obvious thing, but it really is a very powerful mental health tool. Thanks for reading!

  2. sara lafountain

    I find journaling to be very relaxing. I want my teen daughter to try it but she is not sure she will like it. thanks for sharing these ideas!

    1. Hey Sara, can’t hurt to try it. You can always take these journaling ideas and tweak some of them to be more teen centered. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

  3. Journaling is an important and very helpful way of maintaining good mental health. You shared some good ideas here that will help people start and maintain a journaling practice.

  4. I journal every day and I like starting out with a clean slate. It makes me think about having a fresh start for the new day. Great ideas and tips here.

    1. Hey Rosemary, glad you liked the journaling ideas! And I’m glad you are finding journaling so effective. Keep it up, and thanks for reading!

  5. Monica Simpson

    I used to journal all the time when I was younger. I should get back into it. I think my daughter would really like these writing prompts as well.

    1. Hey Monica, feel free to pass the journaling ideas along to her! Hopefully you guys find them helpful. Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Lynndee, blogging can definitely be therapeutic! I’ve found just the blogging world in general so helpful in my recovery. Take care, and thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Marysa, I definitely find it helpful to have the prompts. I’m not always the most creative thinker, so having journaling ideas ready to go helps a lot. Thanks for reading!

  6. I never thought to keep a gratitude journal but as I read through the prompts, I could really see where this would be helpful to get everything out on paper.

    1. Hey Nancy! It definitely feels good to write things down. Give the journaling ideas a try and see what you think. Thanks for reading!

  7. Sometimes when I feel negative and I want to change that, I think how grateful I am for the things I have right now in my life!

    1. Hey Catalina, that’s awesome! Gratitude is a very helpful practice, and has so many benefits. Enjoy the journaling ideas, and thanks for reading!

  8. I love writing down my thoughts and feelings even if it means crumpling it up and throwing it away afterwards. I will definitely be using your prompts in my journal soon. I am currently working on creating a more grateful and self-confident self. It is so hard, but talking to yourself/thinking to yourself lacks a certain perception of self-accountability that journaling can give. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Sara, that sounds like a fantastic plan. I am working on myself too right now, and I agree, it’s challenging. Hopefully my journaling ideas help. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

  9. I love the cancel-cancel technique. I’m going to try that when my thoughts go negative. Another tool I use is to play out the worst case scenario so I have a plan.

    1. Hey Lizzie, I love that idea! I will have to try that myself next time I feel anxious. Enjoy the journaling ideas, and thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Heather, that is a great idea! It’s good to get kids started with self care activities as young as possible. Enjoy the journaling ideas, and thanks for reading!

  10. I really like these prompts. I like journaling, but I usually just write at random. However, some days I struggle to even write randomly, so I am trying to incorporate more prompts for days when I can’t decide what to write, plus I feel like this will expand on what I write about and give it a bit more structure.

    1. Hey Sarah, that makes a lot of sense! I am a structured kind of person and usually need some journaling ideas going in. I’m not exactly a wing it sort of person LOL. Take care, and thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Jen, glad you liked the post! Try out the cancel-cancel method or one of the other journaling ideas and see what you think. Thanks for reading!

  11. I too used to write in my journal when I was younger. Now I have to find the time to do so as I now have more responsibilities than before.

    1. Hey Anita, I hear ya! Adulting can get in the way sometimes. I think even if you can try one of the journaling ideas once or twice a week, it can still be helpful. Thanks for reading!

  12. Thanks, for all the inspiration. Living in such negative times we need to start shifting to a more healthy happy environment. I have not done journaling for a long time I guess I need to start this habit again.

    1. Hey Adriana, no problem! I’m glad you found the journaling ideas inspiring. Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes. Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Terri, I agree! There is something so fun about picking out a new notebook. Reminds me of getting new school supplies as a kid LOL. Enjoy the journaling ideas and thanks for reading!

  13. Great suggestions pet! I’m always stuck on what to journal about so I’ll definitely have to give these a go. Hope you’re keeping well. x

    1. Hey buddy, thanks so much! Glad you liked the journaling ideas. I’m hanging in there. Tired as all get out, but doing okay. Hope you’re doing okay as well!

    1. Hey Sarah, journaling is one of the best (mostly) free tools available! Let me know if you try any of my journaling ideas. Thanks for reading!

  14. Pam Wattenbarger

    I recently started a journal again and realized I was sleeping better when I got out all my emotions for the day before bed.

    1. Hey Amber, glad you liked the journaling ideas! I agree, it’s such a challenging time. We need the positivity more than ever! Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Tonya Lee, so glad you liked the journaling ideas in the post! Let me know if you try any of them, and how they work for you. Thanks for reading!

  15. Lovely prompts! I’ve been doing a gratitude journal for most of the year and I’ve certainly found it helps me to be more positive. I’m coming to the end of a journalling challenge so I think I’ll pin this one for when I’m done as I’ve really enjoyed it! x

    1. Hey Amy, thanks so much! Glad you liked my journaling ideas. Let me know if you try any of them πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Molly! Give the journaling ideas a try. You never how you will benefit until you get started πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Katrina! That sounds like an awesome strategy. Simple, yet effective. Hope you enjoy my journaling ideas. Thanks for reading!

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