You have probably wanted to start a gratitude list for a while now but you simply don’t know where to start. If that is the case, I am going to show you a step-by-step guide on how to write a gratitude list. It gets pretty easy once you know what you are doing!
A gratitude list is simply a list of things that you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to contain grandiose or life-changing items, it can be as simple as “I am grateful for my bed” or “I am grateful for my favorite coffee mug”.
The point of a gratitude list is to help shift your focus from negative to positive. People often think about what they don’t have, or what they wish they had, and this can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and discontentment. A gratitude list helps to change that focus by reminding you of all the wonderful things that you DO have in your life.
But how to do it? Where to start?
How to write a gratitude list?
Here are some tips that can help you start your gratitude list (and eventually journal) so that you can reap all the benefits of gratitude:
1) Write down without thinking too much
Just let the words flow out of you without overthinking them.
This is a very important tip because if you start to overthink things, you will get in your own way and you will find it harder to connect with your gratitude. Just let the words come out naturally and don’t worry about whether or not they are perfect.
Some gratitude points are going to be long, others short. Some of them might not make perfect sense. Others might be very specific. And that’s all okay! Just let it all out without overthinking it.
2) Be grateful for the bad moments
This tip on how to write a gratitude list is a bit counterintuitive but bear with me.
It’s important to be grateful for the bad moments because they make us appreciate the good moments even more. They remind us of how lucky we are when things are going well.
Also, bad moments teach us lessons and make us grow as individuals. So next time something bad happens, like you get in a fight with a friend or you have a tough day at work, try to find something to be grateful for in that situation.
For instance, getting in a fight with a friend might make you realize how much they mean to you and how far you are willing to go to keep the friendship (even if you don’t realize it at the moment).
It might be hard but it will definitely help you cultivate more gratitude in your life.
3) Be more present
In order to find more things to be grateful for, it’s important to be more present. This means that you should try to live in the moment and really experience all that life has to offer, both the good and the bad.
It’s easy to rush through life and not really take the time to appreciate all the little things. But if you are more present, you will see that there are many things to be grateful for, even in the simplest of moments.
For instance, you can be grateful for the sun shining on your face, for the smell of fresh coffee in the morning, or for the sound of laughter. Even the sound of boiling water can be something to be grateful for (You can hear the world around you, you are so lucky!), or you can just take a moment to sniff some spices.
There are many things to appreciate if you just take the time to notice them.
4) Imagine how would it be without having something
This is a great tip to write a gratitude list if you are struggling with finding things to be grateful for.
Just take something that you have in your life, like your job or your home, and imagine how would it be without having it.
For instance, if you are struggling to find a job with a bigger salary, be grateful for the job that you have. It might not be your dream job but it’s a job nonetheless. Some people didn’t have a chance to have an education, making it so hard to find a job. So if you have a job, even if it’s not your dream job, be grateful for it.
The same goes for your home. Even if it’s not the biggest or the most beautiful house, it’s still a roof over your head and a place to call home. Many people don’t have that.
5) Start big
In the beginning, you can simply write down broad things that you are grateful for. These can be something like:
- I am grateful for my family
- I am grateful for my health
- I am grateful for my home
- I am grateful for my job
- I am grateful for my friends
- I am grateful for nature
You can also add things like:
- I am grateful for my ability to read
- I am grateful for my sense of humor
- I am grateful for my intelligence
The idea is to start with the broadest, most general things that you are grateful for in your life. This will make it easier for you to get started, and it will also help you to establish a foundation of gratitude in your mind.
After a while, you can revise these and write them again. You can even repeat the same point every day if you feel like it.
6) Get more into detail when you feel like it
Once you have started to get the hang of things and you feel like writing more, you can start to add more specific things to your list.
You can write things like:
- I am grateful for my bed, it is so comfortable
- I am grateful for the rainy day today, it was so calming
- I am grateful for making myself a delicious lunch today
- I am grateful for having time for my children today
- I am grateful for the flowers that I saw on my way home
Adding more specific things to your list will help you to connect with your gratitude on a deeper level. It will also help you to start noticing the small, everyday things that you are grateful for, which is the whole point of gratitude!
7) Connect with your emotions
When you are writing your gratitude list, try to connect with the emotions that you are feeling. This will help you to really connect with your gratitude and to appreciate the things on your list even more.
Do not just write down things, feel and connect with each one of them. Think how would it be without them.
You have to try to appreciate as many moments in your day as possible, and then write them down. And not the other way around. This way, you will really start to feel gratitude and you will be more present and connected with your life.
For instance, if you pass by a flower field, look at it, see how beautiful it is, and be grateful for it. Don’t just pass by and be lost in your thought. Really take a moment to appreciate it and then write it down.
8) Get inspired when feeling uninspired
Although there are tons of things to be grateful for, sometimes we get limited in our thinking and we can’t seem to think of anything to write. Or every day seems to have the same things.
If this happens to you, there are a few things that you can do to get some inspiration for your gratitude list.
- Consider more aspects of your life. Here are some of them: relationship, health, friends, family, career, finances, fun, personal development, and spirituality. For instance, let’s take finances. You can be grateful that you have money to survive today, that you have a job to pay your bills, or that you are debt-free. Even if your financial situation is not perfect, there are always things to be grateful for.
- Read other’s gratitude lists. There are many websites and books that you can find with other people’s gratitude lists. This can give you some ideas of things that you can be grateful for in your own life. Here is mine.
- Be present. If you are really struggling to think of things to be grateful for, try to be present at the moment and look around you. There are always things to appreciate, even if they are small things.
9) Don’t overthink the formalities
Some of us think that we need a special journal or app so that we can write down our gratitude lists. Others of us might feel like we need to write it in a certain way or at a certain time of day.
This makes it really hard to stick to writing a gratitude list because it can start to feel like a chore. So my tip here is to not overthink the formalities. If you have a journal or an app – it’s great! If not, it’s also great.
A piece of paper, your phone, or even a napkin can work just as well. Just write it down whenever you feel like you are grateful for something. At least in the beginning. After a while, it might be easier to stick to a certain time or place. But in the beginning, just let it flow.
10) Create a structure
There is evidence that shows that when we make something stand up and in a structured form, we tend to remember things easier.
What does it have to do with a gratitude list? Well, if you want to be able to sink all the benefits of gratitude, make bullet points.
It will be much easier for your brain to register all the things you are grateful for when they are in a structured form. Which will make it easier for your brain to remember to be grateful for these things in the future as well.
Not only that, but making your gratitude list visible will also help you to see all the things you have to be grateful for when you are feeling down or when you need a little reminder that there are good things in your life.
So yeah, try to make your gratitude list in a way that will help you remember it and look at it often!
Don’t just write down “I’m grateful for my family” or “I’m grateful for my health”. Write down WHY you are grateful for these things.
Of course, some points might be sweet and short, but if you want to really sink in all the benefits of gratitude, try to elaborate on why you are grateful for certain things.
By doing so, you will be able to see all the good things about a certain situation or a person, and you will appreciate them even more.
12) See each thing on your list as a gift
This is something that I read somewhere and I think it is so beautiful. Whenever you are looking at your gratitude list, try to see each thing on that list as a gift.
For instance, if you are grateful for your job, see it as a gift that you were given. A gift that allows you to support yourself and your family.
This is a powerful way to look at the things you are grateful for because it will help you to appreciate them even more.
13) Keep going
Writing gratitude lists gets easier with time. The more you do it, the more natural it will feel, and the easier it will be to come up with things to be grateful for. This is like a snowball effect. You are going to be more and more grateful, and therefore more and more present and happy.
Yep, there is actually quite a lot of research on this topic, showing that gratitude is powerful, including this study.
That is why it is important to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it, and especially when you don’t feel like it. Because those are the moments when gratitude is needed the most. (Yes, gratitude does help you overcome the bad times, look here.)
Only by doing a routine out of journaling you can change the way you see things and be more grateful. So don’t give up, keep writing those gratitude lists!
What is the best part of the day for writing a gratitude list?
There is no wrong time to write a gratitude list. It makes sense to write it whenever you feel like it.
- Morning. Some people find it helpful to do it first thing in the morning, as it sets the tone for the day and helps them focus on the positive.
- Evening. Others find it helpful to do it at night, as it allows them to reflect on the good things that happened during the day and go to sleep with a positive attitude.
- During the day. If you see something and you think, “I’m really grateful for that,” then just write it down! It doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as you do it.
Some people find it helpful to have a routine and write their gratitude list at the same time every day. This is because it makes them stick to it and become more consistent. You should try it and see what works best for you.
How often should you write a gratitude list?
5 minutes each day. Does it sound like a lot? Well, no. Since it can literally change your life. You will become more grateful, more present, and happier. So if you can spare 5 minutes each day, it is worth it!
Just write down a few things you are grateful for each day. It can be anything, no matter how big or small.
You can also write a gratitude list once a week. There actually was a study done by Sonja Lyubomirsky that shows that weekly gratitude lists are more beneficial, which is counterintuitive. You would think that the more often you do it, the better. But please don’t overdo it. Psychologist Robert A. Emmons suggests that more than 10 things are too many.
Benefits of gratitude lists
1) Helps you to focus on the positive. When you’re feeling grateful, you’re more likely to pay attention to the things that are going right in your life, rather than dwelling on the negative. As a result, gratitude can help you to appreciate the good moments, even when times are tough.
2) Makes you happier. Gratitude has been linked with increased happiness and well-being. One study found that people who were giving thanks were 25% happier than those who didn’t.
3) Increases your resilience. When you’re grateful, you’re more likely to see difficult situations as challenges, rather than roadblocks. This can help you to cope with setbacks and to bounce back from adversity.
4) Helps you to overcome difficult times. Gratitude can help you to find meaning and purpose in difficult times. It can also give you a sense of perspective, and remind you that things could be worse.
5) Strengthens your relationships. Gratitude can help you to feel more connected to others and to appreciate the people in your life. It can also make you more likely to act in a way that is helpful and supportive.
6) Improves your health. Gratitude has been linked with better sleep, lower blood pressure, and improved heart health.
7) Makes you more productive. Gratitude can help you to set and achieve goals, and to persevere in the face of setbacks. It can also increase your motivation and focus, and make you more likely to stick to your goals.
8) Helps you to focus on what is important in life. Gratitude can help you to prioritize your time and your energy, and to focus on the things that are most important to you.
Gratitude is underestimated. It is powerful. It can change your life.
So thank yourself for being here and reading this article that will hopefully get you closer to your goal of writing a gratitude list.
Writing a gratitude list is one of the most simple, yet powerful things you can do to change your life. The benefits are numerous, and it only takes a few minutes each day.
So yeah, I hope this article was helpful.
I am grateful that you are here.
Have a lovely day!