Let’s start off with a song – with any luck the tune will echo through your mind whilst you read this article and further on into the rest of your day, evening, or night. I loved it, so happy, down-to-earth and up-beat! Hope you do too. Why not play it whilst or before we get to the matter at hand What Is A Gratitude List [& How It Benefits Your Entire Life]
I am not a psychologist, not professionally trained in any way when it comes to psychology. Everything I am sharing with you will either be something I have experienced for myself or will include a link to its source.
Let’s Start With The Initial Question – What Is A Gratitude List?
A gratitude list is a list that you write on every day, or as close to every day as possible. I recommend more than once a day (first thing in the morning and last thing at night) but we do not want this to become a chore. It’s a case of whatever suits you most. The reason I recommend more than once a day is that that your mind is focused on what you are grateful for when you wake up in the morning and just before you go to sleep at night.
Writing a gratitude list really is an uncomplicated process. Once or twice a day you write down what you are grateful for. It does not need to be an extensive list, just one thing is enough to start off with. I encourage you to build up to three things, it’s really not time-consuming or difficult at all. If you need guidance with what to write about, here are some ideas:
- What sound are you grateful for today?
- What sight are you grateful for today?
- What taste are you grateful for today?
- What texture are you grateful for today?
- What ability are you grateful for today?
- What belief are you grateful for today
- What place are you grateful for today?
- What season are you grateful for today?
- What about your body are you grateful for today
- What story are you grateful for today?
- What tradition are you grateful for today?
- What challenge are you grateful for today?
- What moment in this week are you grateful for today
- What talent or skill are you grateful for today?
- Who are you grateful for today?
- What holiday are you grateful for today?
- What knowledge are you grateful for today?
- What food are your grateful for today?
- What forms of expression are you grateful for today?
That list will give you the gist and getting your “gratitude juices flowing”.
Why Write A Gratitude List?
Writing a gratitude list is a way of directing your thoughts to something positive. We humans are strange beings, thinking about negatives things is so easy for us. When we focus on what we are grateful for it takes our minds off the negative and just re-frames our thinking.
A simple example comes to mind for me. When I think about paying my bills at the end of the month, I used to have a reaction in my core, literally my belly became queasy. Now, I think about how fortunate I am to have a pay day and be in a position to pay my bills. That sensation has changed completely. A lift has happened, it feels so much lighter to think about money that way.
The same goes for when I think about something I would really, really like to buy and do not have the money for right now. If I dwell on the thought of not having the money, it becomes a really heavy thought and feeling. If I shift my attention to “what can I do to generate this money needed?” suddenly the shift occurs again. I start thinking about opportunities rather than threats. Does that make sense?
Opportunities give us something to look forward to. Threats can create a flight reaction. In this process my mind literally opens up to ideas, rather than closing down. The gratitude for being able to find ways to make money, is a far more uplifting experience than the concern of not having it.
I read something recently that said transforms your sorry into a thank you, this is a similar process. You change the way you view something. Here are some examples taken from boredpanda.com:
- Instead of saying “Sorry I am late”, rather say “Thank you for waiting for me”
- Instead of saying “Sorry I’m not making any sense”, rather say “Thank you for understanding me”
- Instead of “Sorry I’m kind-of-a drag “, rather say “Thank you for spending time with me”
- Instead of “Sorry I am rambling”, rather say “Thank you for listening”
- Instead of “Sorry I take up so much space”, rather say “Thank you for appreciating me”
- Instead of “Sorry I am such a disappointment”, rather say “Thank you for having hope in me the whole time”
Can you feel the difference inside of you when you consider the alternatives? I certainly can.
Why Gratitude Is Important?
There is also scientific evidence available that gratitude, an attitude of thankfulness benefits us from a physiological perspective:
thriveglobal.com has an article to provide more information on this. Here are a couple of quotes from the article, very compelling quotes:
“According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude (the quality of being thankful and readiness to show appreciation) literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. In 2008, scientists first used fMRI to study gratitude. In the study the researchers measured brain activity of participants experiencing different emotions, and found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and lights up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and the hypothalamus. In short, just like Prozac, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine.”
Woah! OK, that is solid evidence right there!
“In 2009, NIH Researchers (National Institute of Health found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity it starts to become clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects, from increased exercise and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains.”
They go on to say that even trying to be grateful has a positive effect on you:
“What’s really interesting is according to Dr. Alex Korb in his book Upward Spiral, the act of “seeking” the items to be grateful for has as much if not more benefit than the item you are actually grateful for. Dr. Korb states:
“Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.”
You must surely be convinced just from those few references. These references also teach us that in thinking about the positive things, the things we can be grateful for, no matter how small – make a marked difference on who we are as people, our health and of course the spin off of this is how gratitude will affect our relationships our businesses or working life too! It’s quite incredible.
Different Ways Of Experiencing & Expressing Gratitude
We started off speaking about a gratitude list but in truth there are different ways to experience and express gratitude, here are just a few of them:
- Keep a gratitude journal, this is where you can write detailed pieces about what you are grateful for. This will develop your attitude of gratitude. You can even paste images into the journal or draw. A journal does not have to be only about writing. Some people do not enjoy writing at all, in that case, perhaps pasting images would suit you better, or mementos of the things you are grateful for. A theater or movie ticket, or train or airline ticket.
- You could create a gratitude board, yes, a bit like a vision board, but this will be a board with pictures and drawing and paintings (or whatever appeals to you) and place it in a prominent place.
- Gratitude cards can be written on and pasted on your fridge or mirror, somewhere you can incorporate into your daily habits (assuming you brush your teeth or hair daily, lol)
- Gratitude letters or emails – you could write a quick letter or drop a quick email to one person a day, letting them know what you are grateful for about them, and why. This is extremely powerful, I did this with a remedial teacher I had in primary school, just popped her a note via Facebook messenger and told her what a difference she made to my life (this is 45 years later!) – she LOVED it!
- You can express gratitude in prayer. “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say thank you?” William Arthur Ward
- You can experience and express gratitude just in a quiet time alone, thinking about what you are grateful for.
- Spend time with grateful people. We have all met people who are enthusiastic and express gratitude joyfully and with ease. I hve friends like that, but one in particular from my church, oh man, she is just a breath of fresh air!
- Surround yourself with gratitude quotes, just the words “gratitude appreciation” really make me bubble inside with a happy feeling. I will leave some gratitude quote for you further down so you can
Gratitude can be experienced and expressed in so many different ways. I do recommend that you start with one of them and develop a habit of gratitude with just one so that you don’t overwhelm yourself with 3 or 4 different things to do every day and then become very ungrateful about gratitude, heaven forbid!
Benefits of Gratitude
I’ve done a bit of research and come up with the following common benefits of gratitude:
- People who are grateful experience an enhanced quality of sleep which assists in feeling more rested when waking (another opportunity to express gratitude, count your blessings instead of the proverbial sheep)
- Grateful people often enjoy a healthier diet (happy people eat more nutrient dense foods, instead of bingeing on the sugary stuff)
- Grateful people enjoy better health – even going so far as to lower blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness and help us to become less irritated by aches and pain, plus the benefits of a stronger immune system
- Higher energy levels are attributed to grateful people (this make sense, just based on the above four)
- Grateful people often have an optimistic attitude towards life
- Grateful people deal with stress better
- Grateful people exercise more regularly
- Facing and managing difficult mental challenge is better handled by people who are grateful
- People with a high level of gratitude experience deeper relationships and friendships
- Gratitude increase self-esteem and self-worth
- Grateful people tend to display higher levels of productivity
- Grateful people enjoy the work they do and perform better on the job
- Grateful people are generally more generous, helpful and compassionate
Surround yourself with gratitude quotes that speak to your heart, listed below are a few of my favorites which I found in an article containing 50 Gratitude Quotes
- “Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.” – Edwin Arlington Robinson
- “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
- “Happiness cannot be traveled to owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
- “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous
- “Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” – Lionel Hampton
I am a believer so this is a very important aspect of gratitude for me, the most important in fact. Here is another of my favorites, this quote is from Philippians 4 : 6-8
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The second thing I love about this particular passage is the attention it gives to what you focus on, what you think about and how you should guard your heart and your mind.
How Gratitude Benefits Your Entire Life
Something I always try to do – don’t always success, but I do try – is to over deliver on what I am offering within the articles on this website. I hope you will agree that this article is one of over delivery. In the beginning I offered a discussion on answering the question “What Is A Gratitude List” and went on to say [& How It Benefits Your Entire Life]. My aim has been to show you that by sharing how gratitude impacts:
- Your mind
- Your emotions
- Your body
- Your spirit and
- Your soul
The above also relates to every aspect of your life:
- Your studies, employment and/or business (or both)
- Your relationships
- Your physical and mental health and your
- Your spiritual well-being
I truly hope that is what you have received from this article. I am very interested to know about your thoughts on gratitude and how it impacts or affects your life and the lives of those around you.
In case you are keen to read a little more, I have written a couple of articles which may be of use to you with mindset and how it affects your business life, whether you are employed, self-employed, have a look:
Thank you so much for spending this time with me here, I really do appreciate it. Let me know you were here by dropping a comment in the section below.