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?

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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