We all know that our mood can color our whole day. What if there were a simple way to color your day with happiness? Enter the gratitude list.
What Is a Gratitude List and How to Make One
The name gratitude list pretty much says it all: it is a list of things that you are grateful for. A gratitude list is not a one-and-done thing. It is not the list itself, but the making of the list that holds the magic.
A gratitude list can be written on anything, anywhere–match your list to your needs and personality. It may be a lovely bedside journal. It may be typed into the notes app on your phone. It may be scrawled on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker or stuck to your fridge with a post-it.
Start making your list. Start small. Complete this sentence three times. “I am grateful for…”
- I am grateful for my kids.
- I am grateful for my spouse.
- I am grateful for coffee.
Yep, you can start with basic ideas. There is no right or wrong to a gratitude list. The only prerequisite is that you take a moment to be thankful for whomever or whatever you write down.
How Starting and Ending the Day with Gratitude Can Make You Happier
Have you ever used a microscope? Think back to high school biology. Do you remember placing a slide on the metal stand and looking through the eyepiece? The image was fuzzy. You had to turn the knobs on the side of the microscope to see the image clearly. And then–amazingly–all the things (previously too small to see) were suddenly clear as day. A beautiful world waiting to be noticed.
That’s what a gratitude list can do for your perspective. It can alter it, sometimes just a little, to have you see your life in all its beauty.
The negative can quickly consume us, but confronting the truth about your blessings every morning can change your mood–and even your life–for the better.
Start each day with three “I am grateful for…” statements. Write them down, pen to paper. You might start your day with an ever-so-slight extra spring to your step. Or maybe when your preschooler spills grape juice on the floor, you can take it with aplomb. You’re grateful for this child.
In the evening, pause your brain from running through tomorrow’s to-do list. Take a minute to savor the day. Add three new “I am grateful for…” statements to your gratitude list. Appreciate what you have–bask in that stillness.
Developing an Attitude of Gratitude
Don’t expect to be good at this at first. Developing an attitude of gratitude takes time and practice. But once you start taking notice, you will soon discover you have much to be grateful for.
- Who has supported you in your life? This goes beyond family to friends, neighbors, teachers, or pastors.
- What events have shaped you for the better? (Even if the events themselves were difficult)
- What do you have that you sometimes take for granted?
- What do you appreciate about yourself?
- What do you appreciate about the world around you?
Once you start going down the rabbit trails of gratitude, you may be overwhelmed by all that is good in your life. Open the floodgates of happiness!
Bertolt Brecht, the famous playwright, said this: “Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.”
Once you start writing your gratitude list, you’ll be one of the lucky ones who has open eyes and a full heart.