If you’ve ever done a quick Google search for the search for happiness you’ve probably heard of a gratitude list! It’s a quick, easy way to boost your mood and cultivate joy in one’s life. This simple tool has proven itself over the years to be an effective way to become a better you.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. It can be saying thank you for the the good or valuing those uncomfortable life lessons. In my experience, gratitude is a conscious understanding and acknowledgement of life’s gifts.
What is a gratitude list?
A gratitude list is an inventory of appreciation for your life. It’s a physical list of whatever blessings come to mind. Very simple. Here’s an example:
- I am grateful for a warm bed.
- I am grateful for health insurance.
- I am grateful for the help of friends.
- I am grateful for clean water.
I was taught that it’s not supposed to be this big, daunting list meant to minimize whatever you’re going through – it’s just a way to consciously say “thank you”. I usually start with the big ones like my family, my house, etc. and then I’m moved to writing down most mundane parts of my life, those little things like a pillow or unspoiled food. In my experience, that’s the hit: finding gratitude in things I’m blind to on a regular basis.
The power is not simply in the list itself, but also in the action of writing it on down. Once it’s on paper, it’s hard to continue to tell yourself that you have nothing or that the world is against you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bullet point list or a flow of sentences. There is no correct or incorrect time of day or time of life to write one! They can be as long or as short as needed.
Why does it matter?
We all get down in the dumps and have days where life seems so unfair. Ever feel like the world is against you? If you’re anything like me, you get caught up in comparisons – who has a bigger house, a fancier car, the usual. One of my favorite quotes about comparison is “jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own”. We are often caught up in this, especially today with the rise of social media and the elusive “perfect life”.
“Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.”
Here’s a link to a Forbes article from 2014 that lists the perks of the article. To summarize, here are their 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude,
- Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
- Gratitude improves physical health.
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
- Grateful people sleep better.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem.
- Gratitude increases mental strength.
So, it’s easy to see how gratitude can play a necessary part in improving our lives.
Taking a few moments out of the day to give thanks can yield great results. It’s an active step towards practicing gratitude in the real world, like keeping in touch with loved ones or holding the door for a stranger. When we are kind to the space and living things around us, we receive that kindness back.
So, do you have experience with a gratitude list? What’s something you’re grateful for today?