Practicing gratitude is a common theme in today’s world, and for good reason; it helps one appreciate what they have rather than what they don’t have. One of the best ways to start practicing gratitude is by making a gratitude list.
A gratitude list, as implied, is a list of things you are grateful for. Writing down what one is grateful for helps them appreciate their life, and it can be developed as a daily practice. Gratitude lists can be a part of a morning ritual, an evening winddown, or a throughout the day practice.
Starting a gratitude list doesn’t have to be complicated, but I’ll share some insightful tips to help you get started.
What is a Gratitude List?
A gratitude list is a numbered or bulleted list that one writes on a daily basis. You can write this list in a journal, on a phone, on a gratitude board, or whatever works best for you. This list consists of what a person is grateful for and can encompass many aspects of one’s life. There aren’t any rules for what one can and cannot write, as a gratitude list is for them and them alone. It is a way to remember the abundance in one’s life and manifest your greatest desires.
Writing a gratitude list is a powerful practice that can bring numerous benefits to our lives. By taking the time to reflect on and write down the things we are grateful for, we shift our focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant. It helps us appreciate the positive aspects of our lives, big or small, fostering a sense of contentment and happiness. Ultimately, writing a gratitude list allows us to find joy in the present moment and develop resilience to face life’s challenges with gratitude and grace.
To get a visual/auditory explanation, check out this guy’s perspective on keeping a gratitude journal:
Why Write A Gratitude List?
I have found that practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to pull myself out of a spiraling funk. By spiraling funk, I mean a thought process of focusing on the negative aspects of my life: what I don’t have, what I’ve lost, where I wish I was, and where I wish I wasn’t.
I believe our thoughts shape our reality, and we manifest what we focus on.
There was a time in my life when I was stuck at a job I didn’t want to be at, and the search for another job was entirely unsuccessful. Plus, I knew that my time there wasn’t over, and I needed to stick it out a little longer. Even though I knew this, I became fixated on my dislike for this job and my desire to find another. It filled me with anger, bitterness, and darkness. I would wake up in the morning dreading my day; longing for the weekend – longing for when my life would look different.
That’s when I had the realization that I was hurting myself through my fixation on what I didn’t have. I believe our thoughts shape our reality, and we manifest what we focus on. It occurred to me that if I stayed in this negative spiral, I would only manifest more negativity – I would only see that which I wanted to see. That is – everything I disliked about the world and my life.
That’s when I decided to start practicing gratitude for everything in my life – including the job I disliked so much. I started appreciating little things about my coworkers, what my job enabled me to do, and all the amazing life lessons it was granting me.
This is when things started to change, and I started to manifest the life I wanted. A life filled with abundance, meaning, and magic. That’s not to say I all of sudden liked my job nor did I want to stay. I knew I still wanted to leave and it wasn’t what I wanted, but I had the strength to find happiness and meaning in a difficult situation through gratitude.
This is why practicing gratitude every day is so important, it’s what fuels us to see a better day. To create a life we desire, and to not fall into a pit of negativity.
Studies have indicated that practicing gratitude is linked to overall well-being, and may enhance one’s health. Check out this article from the US National Library of Medicine that dives deep into the science behind gratitude.
Moreover, there was another study done on participants who practiced gratitude writing. The findings of the study, published by the National Library of Medicine, showed the group who participated in daily gratitude journaling experienced “significantly better mental health than those in the control group.”
How to Make a Gratitude List
Making a gratitude list is pretty straightforward – just find a pen/pencil, a piece of paper, and start writing. It can be as short or as long as you would like, but I encourage you to write down at least five things to get started. I’ve found that once I start listing a few things, it’s much easier to get on a roll of all the things I appreciate.
A gratitude list brings to light what we have the hardest time appreciating, and challenges us to find the beauty in those things.
Here’s a helpful tip: start with simple and easy things that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be deep right away, as that can be a bit overwhelming at times. Here’s an example of starting with basic/easy things:
- I am grateful for the warmth of the sun shining upon my back (or, you could just write “the sun”).
- I am grateful for the beauty of the blue sky overhead (or, “the blue sky”).
- I am grateful for my partner and their love for me.
- I am grateful for kitty cuddles.
- I am grateful for a delicious, nutritious breakfast.
See what I mean? It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or deep. However, there are times when deep gratitude is necessary, and I would suggest writing both.
Gratitude List Templates and Worksheets
Google and Pinterest are endless resources for gratitude ideas, templates, and worksheets.
Here is a couple from Pinterest to check out:
Here’s an example of a more in-depth prompt and worksheet:
These prompts are a great way to help you get started and reflect on your life. Sometimes coming up with things ourselves isn’t very exciting, so prompts are a great tool to utilize.
Some folks prefer to have a journal specific to their gratitude list, aka a gratitude journal. This concept is growing so much in popularity that you can even purchase gratitude journals. These books/journals are filled with ideas, exercises, prompts, inspirational quotes, and tools to help you develop a gratitude practice.
These journals can be found at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Etsy, and more. If you don’t want to purchase a gratitude journal, then you can simply designate a notebook as your gratitude journal.
Also, to start a gratitude journal/practice, having a specific notebook isn’t required. It can be in your regular journal, on your phone, or any other form that works best for you.
When to Write a Gratitude List
Many people recommend writing a gratitude list in the morning as a way to start your day with positivity. I definitely agree with that, but writing a gratitude list can be at any time of day that works best for you. It can also be done in the evening as a way to reflect on your day.
The most important part about keeping a gratitude list is committing to the practice. By sticking to a gratitude list, you’re able to focus on the positive aspects of life and can make getting through a difficult situation a bit easier.
It’s also fun to write a yearly gratitude list around the end of the year. With this exercise, you list everything you appreciate about the past year. This is a great way to reflect on how one has grown, what one has learned, and what one is excited about in the coming year.
Example of a Gratitude List
To help you have more insight on what a gratitude list looks like, I’ll share with you what I’m thankful for today:
- A job that I can work from home.
- The silliest chickens and ducks who make me very happy.
- The love of my partner.
- The wild birds who love eating the chicken food.
- The beauty of the trees blowing in the wind.
- My confidence to pursue my goals.
- My beautiful home overlooking the valley.
- The strength and intelligence of my body.
- My drive for self-discovery.
- Healing and soothing plants.
In this list, I tried to focus on external and internal things. I find that practicing gratitude for myself is more challenging, so I try to list things that I appreciate about myself. In this way, a gratitude list brings to light what we have the hardest time appreciating, and challenges us to find the beauty in those things.
Do I have to write a gratitude list, or is there another way of practicing gratitude?
Yes, there are plenty of other ways to practice gratitude. Writing and keeping a journal certainly isn’t for everyone, so writing a gratitude list isn’t required to practice thankfulness. You can simply list things in your mind as you drive to work, doodle what you’re thankful for, or say them through prayer. Another way is to meditate on what you’re grateful for.
How often should I write in my gratitude journal?
As often as you feel called to. In order to have the motivation to keep returning to your gratitude journal, I recommend writing in it every day to start out. Try writing in it every day for a week, or maybe two, and see what you discover!
Top Gratitude Practices That Real People Use
What does your gratitude practice look like? Because practicing gratitude is so important, I was curious if any of my friends and family had their own gratitude practice. I asked them if they had a gratitude practice, and if so, what their practice looks like. Here’s what I found out:
- Benefits Of Gratitude – Fewer Things and More Fulfillment
- Attitude Of Gratitude – How Perspective Can Change Life
- Being Content – My Methods to an Easier and Happier Life
- Appreciate What You Have – My Experiences with Gratitude
- Gratitude Meditation – Successful Ways to Reflect and Grow
- How To Practice Gratitude – Steps for Powerful Perspective
Keeping a gratitude list is fun, easy, and incredibly beneficial to one’s life. It takes as little as five minutes a day to reflect on the goodness of life, so – what are you waiting for? What are you grateful for in this very moment?