Looking for a daily habit that can boost your well-being, enhance your mood, and help you cope better with stress? Why not try a gratitude list? Making a gratitude list can help to soothe your mind, relax your body, and enable you to focus on the positives in your life. If you are not quite sure how to get started, just follow these simple steps.
Step 1. Decide on a format.
Some people like to have dedicated journal while others prefer to keep their list electronically. You may even choose to create a mental gratitude list. If you are a more visual person, your gratitude list can be images or icons instead of words. Others like to speak their gratitude aloud, possibly recording their voice into a digital device or their phone. How you do it is up to you. Lists are short and concise, not long paragraphs of prose, though, so think how you would like to record your joy in this simple manner.
Step 2. Get in the right mindset.
When making a gratitude list, it is crucial to focus on the present. When you think too far ahead or dwell on the past, you can fixate on the negative emotions that you are experiencing, but when you land your attention squarely on right now, it is easier to acknowledge your gratitude. Spend a moment just centering yourself and thinking about how you feel right now.
Step 3. Make your list.
Think of everything and anything that causes you to feel appreciation at this moment. What do you see, feel, are able to do, have accomplished, or are working toward that brings you happiness? In what areas of your life do you feel blessed or for which you want to offer thanks? Think of the relationships, experiences, and emotions that stick with you when you reflect on your day. Don’t focus too much on what you own but rather what you feel.
There are no wrong or right answers. You may feel grateful just to be alive today. You may consider yourself lucky for your spouse, children, family members, or health. You may want to honor the struggles you are currently experiencing for what they are teaching you. List it all. List everything that you want to say “thank you” to at this time.
Step 4. Add your personality to the list.
Depending on your personal preference, you can add drawings, photos, or objects to your list. You can use different colored pens. You can create a graphic representation rather than just a plain list. It can be more multi-modal or only plain text. It is totally up to you. But make it yours and allow it to reflect on how you appreciate your life and what you have.
Step 5. Add reasons “why.”
When you think of this thing for which you are grateful, express why you appreciate it. Does it bring you happiness, security, or energy? The list is not just about the things you put on it but what those things mean for your life, so including your reasons for your appreciation will make it more meaningful for you.
Step 6. Be sure you stay specific.
Don’t just list “my partner.” Talk about what precisely your partner does for you that you appreciate. When you focus on the general, you can lose touch with the many reasons you care for them, so pay attention to the specific reasons that you are choosing to list this at this time.
Step 7. Reflect often.
A gratitude list is not something you should do once and forget it. Sit down every day and add to your list. Go back and re-read your list often to reflect on the many blessings in your life. Consider how your appreciation is evolving over time. Use it to remind yourself of what is good and positive in your life when you are feeling low. Look back over it regularly to help you remain connected to your gratitude and to evolve those feelings over time.