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3 Quick & Easy Prompts to Try if You're New to Journaling

Begin a Daily Journaling Practice with the GLAD Technique


This is it. This is the year you start a journaling practice. 


The crisp blank pages of your Instagram-worthy notebook are begging to be filled. 


Pen to paper you wait for inspiration to hit. 


Here it comes. 


...


You got nothin’, huh?


Captain America's high school PSA meme with text that reads so you bought a new notebook.
Meme created by Ariella Monti using Imgflip.com

It’s okay. It happens to all of us. 


I was seven when I first started scrawling my thoughts in a diary. I kept up the practice well into my early adulthood, but it fell off as I got older and busier and more stressed and more exhausted. I didn’t have the mental capacity to express my feelings at a time when I likely needed journaling the most. 


It wasn’t until my therapist introduced me to GLAD journaling that I found something more suitable for my current existence. At that time in my life, I needed the benefits of cultivating a mindfulness practice. There are so many ways to add more mindfulness into your life and writing has always been the way I expressed myself best. 


My Go=To Journaling Prompt: The GLAD Technique

What is the G.L.A.D. technique?


G.L.A.D. is an acronym for ways of finding the little bits of joy and balance that we experience every day. 


An image of a notebook open to a blank with the GLAD technique prompt overlayed.
Image created by Ariella Monti using Canva

G: Gratitude 

Something that you’re grateful for. The scientific data bolstering the benefits of gratitude are pretty clear and this technique gets right to the point by putting this prompt first. 


When I first started using these prompts, the obvious ones came first: Family, friends, food, shelter, etc. Over time, though, I found myself getting away from the obvious and feeling grateful with more specificity. The return of the hummingbirds, comfortable shoes, and a conversation with a friend. 


L: Learn

Something that you learned. Whether we realize it or not, we’re always learning. Learning doesn’t just happen in a formal class setting. This prompt is asking you to highlight any little bit of knowledge you picked up that day. This is an easy one if you’re a regular CK & GK Podcast listener. 


The prompt also offers you a chance to begin viewing the world with a little more curiosity. Don’t look at the prompt as an assignment that you need to complete, but more as a reason to look at the world through the eyes of a small child. 


A: Accomplishment

Something you accomplished. When you’re in a hard season, this can feel like a tough one. We usually equate accomplishments with productivity and that can lead to feeling shame, judgment, or guilt when you don’t accomplish much. But since this is an exercise in mindfulness, not productivity, you set the definition of accomplishment. If you’re sitting in front of an open journal thinking about what you’ve accomplished, you’ve already accomplished journaling. Write it down. 


D: Delight

Something that made you happy, brought a smile to your face, or made you laugh. This really could be anything. It doesn’t have to be deep or meaningful. Very often. my answer is a funny TikTok video or a meme I saw.


Sometimes this is a hard one. Not every day has happy moments. For those days I look beyond the past 24 hours and think about something that often makes me happy even if that thing wasn’t enough to shake off the gloom of that particular day. 


Give D.R.A.G. Journaling a Try

D.R.A.G. journaling is something I came up with after using the G.L.A.D. prompts for a couple of years. 


At some point, I added R for Reflection. This prompt gave me a space to reflect on something that happened and how I felt during and after. This prompt did a lot of heavy lifting to help me figure myself out and examine how I walk through the world.


I think L.E.A.R.N. is another great prompt, but after using it a few times, I found that this one is where I’d get stuck. I’d spend a lot of mental energy trying to remember what I learned that day. I’m an avid podcast listener and a bit of a news geek, so I’m always learning new bits of information. But when I’d sit down before bed, recalling that information was damn near impossible.


(Note: Now I know that my inability to recall what I learned is connected to ADHD and impaired short-term memory.)


Ultimately, it's a prompt that caused me more stress than it relieved—and that’s not at all the purpose of the exercise. 


Make Journaling Work For You

If you find that a prompt isn’t working for you, skip it. Once journaling becomes part of your routine, you might find other prompts better suited to your needs. 


Journaling is one of many tools that can be used to bring more mindfulness to our lives. The G.L.A.D. (or D.R.A.G.) technique is one way to begin a journaling practice and one that helped me for a long time. 


Have you used this technique before? Let me know in the comments.

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