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Are you in the practice of creating a daily gratitude list? There are some major benefits for you health wise (mental and physical!) if you can get into the habit of keeping a gratitude journal and even just jotting down one thing each day! Use these tips (and the free template!) to get started with this life-changing exercise.
If you are anything like me, sometimes we get so wrapped up in schedules, to-do’s, and moving forward to ever stop and think about things we are grateful for. And that can quickly lead to a cycle of exhaustion and negative emotions. What if I could help you break that unhappy streak in just a few easy steps? You’re in? That’s the spirit! Let’s get to it.
HOW TO START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Your first step in starting a gratitude list is to determine where you are going to keep your list. There are quite a few options for this, so just be sure to pick something that works for you!
You can get a notebook and keep it somewhere that you will see every day. On your nightstand or at your desk. I suggest getting a notebook that is small enough to keep in your purse so that you are more likely to keep it close to you. If you keep it on your nightstand it is also nice to have a small notebook so it doesn’t take up tons of room. You want to be sure that the notebook is functional so that you are more likely to use it!
Another idea is to keep your gratitude list in a digital format. You can use the notes app on your phone or download an app like Evernote so that you can add items at a moments notice and refer back to your list easily.
If you are looking for a gratitude list template, I made one just for you! You can download it for free by signing up in the form below. You can use this template instead of a journal, or just download it to use as a reminder of how to set up your gratitude journal!
SET A TIME FOR YOUR GRATITUDE JOURNAL
The more you make this habit a part of your daily routine, the more effective you will be. Try to pick a time each day that you can stick to and write down your journal items then.
The time of day does not matter as long as you find something that works for you. It is most helpful to start by sandwiching your gratitude journaling time between two things that are already a solid part of your daily routine.
For example, if you want to journal in the morning, your routine may become: Coffee –> Gratitude List –> Breakfast
If you are going to journal in the evening, it may look like: Brush Teeth –> Gratitude List –> Read
Consistency will be key to getting this habit to stick, but once you have it built into your routine, it will be almost natural!
HOW DO YOU WRITE A GRATITUDE LIST?
This is actually the easy part!
Simply start by asking yourself “What are the three things I am grateful for today?”
These three things can be anything at all. Your list can include people too! This will certainly get easier to do as you practice. Just start small at first. This list of three things shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes each day to jot down.
It really does not have to be groundbreaking stuff. It is actually so refreshing to be able to recount all of the small blessings in your life because those little moments are what life is made up of. If you are constantly waiting on the big monumental stuff to come around in your life, you are going to miss all the beautiful little things that are happening right under your nose.
LOOKING FOR EXAMPLES OF THINGS TO BE GRATEFUL FOR?
Since I know it can be hard to get your juices flowing sometimes, here are a few examples of things that you can jot down on your first few gratitude list entries.
- Good weather
- A walk around the neighborhood
- Your child says “I Love You”
- Dinner with friends
- Movie night with your spouse
- Seeing a birds nest (my mom loves that stuff)
- Finding a great pair of jeans
- Getting a few minutes of rest
- Opening a fun piece of mail
Whenever I am having a rough day, it helps to have a notebook full of little reminders about the things that bring me joy. So even if the only thing you are grateful today is having a cup of coffee, write it down! Counting your blessings will have a huge impact on your daily outlook. Get excited to become a more positive version of yourself with this one little exercise!
SHARE YOUR GRATITUDE
The next step is to say it out loud! Tell people what you are grateful for (bonus points if you are grateful to the person you are sharing with). Speech is a huge part of solidifying a habit or state of mind. If you keep repeating something, it is much more likely to stick. I would also bet, that as you start sharing what you are grateful for with others, they will start thinking about what they are grateful for as well. Or they may even just be intrigued by your newfound positivity and wonder what is making you different these days.
You might even use this as an opportunity to encourage others by telling them that they are on your gratitude list. I am sure it will mean so much to hear you say that they are having an impact on you.
If you share your gratitude list with others, it is sure to have a ripple effect. Who knows how far your practice of gratitude will spread?!
KEEP IT GOING!
Once you have built a foundation of gratitude, take it (maybe) a bit out of your comfort zone.
Doing acts of service for others can make you much more appreciative when they are done for you. Find something that you are passionate and sign up for a volunteer shift. Take someone dinner while they are going through a tough time. Take time out to celebrate a small milestone with a friend. Giving of yourself, via time or resources, is one of the best ways to strengthen your capacity for gratitude.
The next time someone goes out of their way to help you, you will be able to remember how it felt when you stretched yourself for others. And you will be all the more deeply grateful for their act of kindness to you.
NEED MORE IDEAS?
Pay for someone in line behind you at Starbucks. Go to the nursing home nearest you and ask the front desk to point you in the direction of someone who needs a visitor. Volunteer at the food bank or clothing donation center.
These small acts of kindness will also make you more grateful for the things you have in your life. So often we let our problems overwhelm us till they feel so enormous that they block out all of the good things in our lives. But most of the time, if we look at the world around us, our problems start to seem much smaller.
I once heard a pastor say “The majority of the people in this world would kill to have the problems that you have.” I remind myself of that every time I start to feel like my problems are so big that I have nothing to be grateful for. It changes my perspective 100% and I am able to fill up a whole page of blessings in my notebook.
Let’s start RIGHT NOW! Share three things that you are grateful for in the comments below. I can’t wait to read them! I’ll start.
I am grateful for:
- Sunshine (allows for daily walks outside!)
- My puppy Sadie (puppy cuddles are pretty great)
- An encouraging text a friend sent me today – always a day maker!
Remember, if you are looking for a gratitude list template to get started with, you can download one for free using the form below!