Alyssa has studied psychology, philosophy, religion, and the arts. She loves sharing her thoughts, ideas, and papers with the world.
In the United States, November is known as the month of gratitude. This is the time where we plan get-togethers with friends and prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family. There's a societal mood shift as we focus on our blessings, giving thanks for the people in our lives and the things we are fortunate to have.
Gratitude shouldn't be limited to one day or one month out of an entire year. It's a powerful practice that everyone should incorporate in their daily lives year round. Gratitude can have a profound effect on a person's level of happiness. Learning to appreciate everything in life makes the highs that much better, and helps people get through those inevitable low points.
Years ago, I started a 30 day gratitude challenge. Every day I would offer a new theme to inspire thoughts of gratitude. People could choose to write down their ideas or just keep them in mind as they went through their day. It was a favorite of mine to write and share. It was my hope that the 30 days would help people create a habit of appreciation and mindfulness that would continue beyond the month of November.
This year I wanted to do something different. Instead of publishing a new theme each day, I thought it would be fun to create one entire collection for the specific purpose of journaling. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to cultivate your own daily gratitude practice. Below, I have given 30 days worth of prompts to get you started. Choose to follow the prompts in order or pick one out each day that speaks to you. The choice is yours!
1. Three Things
The best things in life are simple. Such is true when it comes to gratitude. One of the easiest ways to incorporate more appreciation in your life is by writing down three things you are grateful for each day. There are no rules to this, your list could include major events, things, people, ideas, the possibilities are endless. Choose to write your list in the morning before getting your day started, in the evening before heading to bed, or at both times. I recommend repeating this practice every day for optimal benefits.
2. Your Spouse or Partner
Think about all the reasons why you love and adore your spouse or partner. You could choose to write them in a list or recall a specific memory of a treasured moment together. How does your spouse or partner show their love and support for you? Think of all the little things he or she does every day and compile them in a list. Write about a time when he or she truly touched your heart. You could also write about how you met, your first date, when you knew he or she was the one, etc.
3. Your Kids
When you become a parent, your life changes in so many ways. List the ways your life has improved or the lessons you've learned since having children. How did you feel when you held them in your arms for the first time? Choose a time when your kids made you proud or had you laughing so hard you couldn't stop. What makes your children uniquely themselves? What do you love to do with them? What do you most admire about them? When it comes to your children, there are endless reasons for gratitude.
4. Your Pets and/or Houseplants
Animal companions teach us so much. What have your pets taught you? What do you love most about your pets? Write about when you first welcomed them into your family. Recall a funny memory or treasured time you had together.
Houseplants are also wonderful friends! They add joy to our homes and teach us patience. How do your plants improve your life? What do you love most about your plants? Write a list of the lessons your plants have taught you.
5. Neighbors and Friends
How well do you know your neighbors? Do you smile and say hello when you see each other? Are you able to ask them for help when you need it? Are your neighbors more like friends or family to you? Think of all the wonderful reasons to be thankful for your neighbors.
Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. That has been true on my end for all of my adult life. What do you love most about your friends? Compile your thoughts into a list or write about a memory that stands out to you. Who is your best friend? Why? Again, make a list of the reasons you are thankful for your best friend or choose a particular memory to write about. Alternatively, you could think about the lessons you've learned from your friends. When it comes to these important people in our lives, there are countless reasons for gratitude.
6. Parents and Grandparents
Think of all the things your parents have done for you over the years - the sacrifices they've made, the lessons they've taught, the help they've given. Whether you have a great relationship, a strained relationship, or a non-existent relationship, there is plenty to be thankful for when it comes to parents.
Grandparents are truly special. Mine have been gone for over ten years and I miss them every day. Think of all the things your grandparents have done for you - the wisdom they passed down, the practical life skills they taught you, the love and support they offered. Choose a favorite memory to write about or list the things you love most about your grandparents. If they're still here, give them a call or visit if it's safe to do so.
7. Your Body and Health
Health has been at the forefront of everyone's focus this year. It's something no one ever thinks about until they fall ill. How are you feeling? Are you staying healthy? If you are feeling well and engaging in healthy habits, these are reasons to be grateful. When you're not feeling well, it's difficult to find gratitude. In this case, you might take a little comfort in the time your body has allotted to rest, knowing that your immune system is working hard to fight off the germs.
You might also focus on gratitude for your body. You only get one, it's your home for this lifetime. What do you love most about your body? Maybe it's your eyes, your hair, or your hands. Think about each body part and everything it does each day for you. Your feet and legs support your body and allow you to get from one place to another. Your arms allow you to hug your loved ones and your hands do a lot of work every day, too! What about your heart? It beats constantly, circulating your blood. Your lungs allow you to breathe. Think about all that your brain does for you. Dig a little deeper and consider other reasons to be grateful for you body.
8. Your Job
It's easy to get so caught up in the daily grind and focus on all the reasons why you dislike your job. Maybe your boss is overbearing or your co-workers get on your nerves. Policy and guideline changes can be annoying; pointless meetings where nothing gets done wastes time; and doing the same thing over and over, day in and day out adds to the monotony and frustration. The complaints start to take over and you start to resent having to go to work. It's important to remember that simply having a job is something to be thankful for, especially when so many people don't have one. Being able to make money, pay the bills, and put food on the table is a reason to be grateful. Think of all the things you are able to have and do because you work. Who is your favorite co-worker and why? What do you love about your job? What are the most important lessons you've learned in your position? Think of how far you've come since first taking this job and list how your life has improved as a result.
Music is a language all on its own. There's a song, artist, or band to suit any taste and mood. It has the power to bring people together, get us through tough times, and inspires us to move. What is your go-to song when you're feeling down? When you need an energy boost? Do you have a certain playlist for getting ready for your day? Who is your favorite artist or band? What lyric has inspired you? Make a list of your favorites, categorized by mood or activity.
Thirty years ago, life looked much different:
- Most people didn't own a home computer.
- How well-off you were was related to how many TVs you had.
- If you had a cordless phone, you were cool.
- There were payphones on street corners, at gas stations, and at the mall if you needed to make a call on the go.
Thinking back twenty years ago feels like a different era altogether as well. Dial-up internet, AOL chat rooms, and bulky cellphones were all the rage. It's wild when you realize how far we've come: Google encompasses all parts of speech, most people have everything they need in the palm of their hand via their smartphone, and buffering is almost a thing of the past.
- Social media allows people to share their lives with others. It's easy to stay in touch with family, old friends, and make new friends all around the globe.
- YouTube is a wonderful source of entertainment and new knowledge.
- Shopping, dining, recipes, education, travel, movies, TV, the internet provides an endless list of opportunities.
There's so much to be thankful for when considering modern conveniences in terms of technology.
11. Your Residence
Do you have a roof over your head? That in itself is something to be grateful for. Whether you own your own home, are renting a place, or living with a family member there is much to appreciate. Make a list of all the things you love about your home. Maybe you put a lot of time and effort into restoring or beautifying it. Perhaps you have a unique room that you love to hang out in. You could focus on your garden or something as simple as not having to worry about stairs. Think about all the things you have in your home - an oven, a washer and dryer, a bathroom, a place to relax and wind down, a place to eat, and a place to rest your head at night. These are all things for which to be grateful.
12. Your Vehicle
Whether you drive your dream car, an old hunk of junk, or something in between, if you can start it up and get from one place to another -- that's something to appreciate. Does your vehicle have heat? Air-conditioning? Decent tires? Do all four windows roll up and down? Do you have a stereo that works? Think also of what you appreciate most about your vehicle. Maybe you have a spacious trunk, room for all your kids or friends to ride comfortably, or leather seats. If you do own your dream car, think back on all the vehicles you owned previously. Even if you don't own your dream car, try that exercise to put things in perspective. What was your first car or truck? Write about how you felt when you first got it. You could also think back to how you felt when you sat behind the wheel for the very first time.
13. Your Community
Where do you live? What do you love most about it? Do you live in a city where there's a lot to do? Do you live in the country where there's a lot of open space and nature? Do you live in the suburbs where it's just a short drive to anything you want to do? What is your favorite thing to do? Visit the library? Walk at the park? Dine at a local restaurant or catch the game with friends at the sports bar? Think again about your neighbors and the other people in your town or city. Make a list of what you love most or describe your favorite spot in a few sentences.
14. Your Hobbies and Passions
What do you like to do in your spare time? Why do you enjoy these activities? What have you learned from your hobbies? Think also of what you are most passionate about. Describe your passion in a few words or sentences. Why does this speak to you? How do you share your passion with your family, your friends, the world? What have you learned in the pursuit of your passion?
15. Your Mistakes
No one likes to dwell on their mistakes. It would be much easier to sweep them all under the rug and pretend they never happened, however that would be doing yourself a great disservice. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and better yourself. Sometimes they make for a funny story, too. Think back on three mistakes you've made. What happened? Why? What did you learn? How have these mistakes made you a better person today?
16. Your Achievements
Accomplishments are much more fun to focus on, aren't they? Think about all the things you've achieved in your life. Write them out in a list. Choose your three biggest achievements. What were they? How did you achieve these things? What did you learn along the way? How have these achievements contributed to your life? How have they made you better a person?
17. Your Age
How old are you? Think of everything you've gone through to get this age: the good, the funny, the near-misses, the bad. How fortunate you are to be here, right now, at this age. You've made it to see another day. Think of all the lessons you've learned, how much wiser you are, how much there still is to learn. You're never too old, it's never too late to learn something new and aim for a new goal. Embrace your age. Revel in it. Life is good. There is so much to be thankful for.
The Time You Have (In JellyBeans)
18. Your Favorite Book
Isn't it wonderous how words on a page can transport us to fantastical and faraway places? Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do. There's nothing better than curling up with a hot mug of coffee and a cozy blanket with a book. What is your favorite book of all time? Why? Did you learn anything from reading it? Who is your favorite author? What book has had the greatest impact on your life? List the ways it inspired you. Who is your favorite fictional character? Why? If you're like me, you'll have a wide selection of favorites to be grateful for.
19. The Sun
Few things in life are 100% certain: death, taxes, the Sun rises each morning and sets each evening. Aside from the obvious and practical reasons to be grateful for the glowing ball of fire in the sky, consider:
- The breathtaking site of a morning sunrise or evening sunset.
- How the sunshine warms your skin on a crisp Autumn afternoon.
- Beautiful sunrays as the light refracts in a window.
- The mood boost you get when the sun appears in the sky after a dreary day.
- The Vitamin-D the Sun's rays provide.
- The shadows created by varying its varying positions in the sky.
- The sparkle and glimmer it gives a blanket of snow.
- How the Earth is the perfect distance away.
- The very fact that the Sun exists.
There is much to consider and be grateful for when it comes to nature.
- Think about the variety of life on land and in the oceans.
- Think of the majestic mountains, the mystery of the forests, the wonder and awe of staring out at the horizon, where the lake meets the sky.
- Consider the power of extreme weather and the magical feeling of the Auroras.
- A warm, gentle breeze.
- The twinkle of stars in the night sky.
- The moon.
What do you enjoy most about nature? Do you love to hunt or fish? Do you enjoy hiking, backpacking trails, climbing mountains, exploring caves? Do you sit on your porch or in your backyard to relax, read a book, or enjoy your favorite beverage?
The Zombies - Time Of The Season
21. The Seasons
In Ohio, we experience all four seasons. Summer, my favorite, is sunny and hot. Winter is cold, alternating between dreary gray and sparkles of wonder. Spring is a mixture of cool and warm, with pops of emerald, coral, and gold among the patches of snow left over from old man winter. Autumn is a fantastic show of color with cool, crisp air. What's it like in your neck of the woods? What is your favorite season? What do you appreciate most about each season you experience?
22. The Food You Eat
Isn't it amazing how easy it is to walk into the kitchen, open the refrigerator or cupboard, and pull something out to eat? If you don't want to cook, you could easily head out to a restaurant to have food prepared for you. Don't want to leave your house? There are a variety of services who will deliver your prepared food to your door. These are conveniences we all tend to take for granted and are reasons to be grateful.
There are many people around the world who don't have enough to eat. Still others in the United States, perhaps even in your own state or city, worry about when they'll eat again or where they'll be able to get their next meal. If you're able to give back, I encourage you to do so. There are many food banks accepting donations or you could volunteer your time at a homeless shelter. Check in your community for opportunities to help. Not only will you be making a difference where it matters most, but it will make you feel good too.
23. Your Favorite Place to Visit
Do you love to travel? Where have you visited? Which place was your favorite? Why? Whether you're a globetrotter, a cross-country road tripper, or you stay local, think about your favorite place. What makes it special? What do you like to do there?
24. Your Favorite Movie
Like books, movies offer an escape from the real world. They give us a chance to visit new places and experience new ideas. What is your favorite movie genre? Why? What is your favorite movie? What do you enjoy most about it?
Exercise is a reward. It's a way to show love and appreciation for your body and mind. What kind of exercise do you enjoy? Do you go to the gym to lift weights or run on the treadmill? Do you enjoy walking or jogging outside? Are you a yoga person? Do you enjoy group fitness classes? Are you a swimmer? There are so many ways to exercise! Think about how good it feels to move your body. Isn't it amazing to challenge yourself and see what your body is capable of doing? How wonderful is it to crush a hard workout? Consider how you feel when you stick with your fitness routine. Think about the benefits you personally enjoy from exercise.
It's easy to take basic services for granted. It's just not something we normally think about unless something breaks or stops working. Need water? Turn the tap to choose cold or hot depending on the activity. Cold? Turn on the heat or stand in front of the register to feel the warm air blow on your feet. Too warm? Turn the air-conditioner on or stand in front of the fan. What about electricity? Almost everything in the house requires it. Pile the garbage in the bin and roll it out to the road every week. Are you reading this on a computer or your phone at home? How fortunate that you have internet access. These simple things go unnoticed in the busy day-to-day. We grumble when the bill comes, but we always expect everything to work perfectly. I encourage you to consider these basic amenities as part of your gratitude practice.
Expanding on the utilities above, I've included luxuries. One important thing I've learned in my life is that luxury is relative and dependent on a person's situation. Even the basic things in life, like shampoo, conditioner, body soap, toilet paper, paper towels, food items, and services like access to the internet can all be considered luxuries. Everyone's financial situation is different. Some people can buy whatever they need or want at a whim; Others have just enough to pay their bills; and there are many who have to decide between paying their bills and eating. Think about everything you own, from the simple things like furniture to the more fancy gadgets you just had to have. Consider the brands you buy when it comes to food and beauty. Do you have a smartphone, computer, laptop, TV, gaming console, streaming service, etc..? Any and all of these items could be considered luxuries, and they are all wonderful reasons for gratitude.
28. Public Service, Organizations, and the Military
True heroes are the ordinary men and women who do extraordinary things every day.
- Police officers who keep us safe.
- Firefighters who run toward the fire when everyone else is running away.
- EMT's and Paramedics who help us when we're sick or injured.
- Dispatchers who answer the phone when we have an emergency.
These men and women work around the clock, every day of the year - weekends, holidays, anniversaries, birthdays included. They see humanity in its darkest moments. Yet every day, they put on their uniforms and continue to go to work. These are challenging, thankless jobs and it amazes me to see these remarkable men and women dedicate their lives to bettering the world, one person at a time. They are the true heroes of our communities and we all owe them a great deal of gratitude.
Think also of the government services, mental health organizations, programs for children, Educators, and other community helpers who work tirelessly to try make their corner of the world a little better. Do some research to see all wonderful organizations available in your community.
This section wouldn't be complete without thinking about the brave men and women who have served or are currently serving in the branches of the military. Freedom isn't free, and we owe our way of life to those who have answered the call to serve.
29. The Simple Things
When it comes to a realistic, daily gratitude practice, I'm all about the simple things. Taking time to appreciate the little moments and ordinary things in life has the biggest impact. It really puts everything in perspective. I encourage you to seek out the simple things in your life. Similar to the first prompt, write down three to ten things you're thankful for everyday. Make it a habit and watch how it affects your mindset. Here are some examples and suggestions:
- The quiet of the morning.
- The sunrise.
- That first sip of coffee.
- A cool glass of water.
- The sound of laughter.
- A funny joke.
- Your favorite song.
- The way the light hits the trees.
- A beautiful day.
- The weather.
- The feeling of curling up with a cozy blanket.
- Holding hands with your spouse or partner.
- A picture your child drew for you.
- A conversation with a neighbor or friend.
- A sweet treat.
- A compliment you received.
30. Being Alive
Simply being alive is the ultimate reason to be grateful. Each new day offers opportunities and possibilities. Every morning you wake up means:
- You are still breathing.
- You have precious time to spend with your loved ones.
- You can work toward your goals.
- You can pursue your passions.
- You can enjoy a book, TV show, movie, or spend time on a hobby.
- You can make a difference.
© 2020 Alyssa
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on October 23, 2020:
Thank you Dora!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 23, 2020:
Very helpful prompts. Number 30 is the reason to be grateful continually.
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on October 22, 2020:
Thank you Jason!
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on October 22, 2020:
Thank you Abby!
Jason Nicolosi from AZ on October 22, 2020:
I loved your list. Very thought provoking. Nice job Alyssa.
Abby Slutsky from America on October 20, 2020:
This is a terrific list.
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on October 20, 2020:
Yes, absolutely Carolyn! Thank you so much! :)
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on October 20, 2020:
You are an inspiration to me, Bill. I appreciate your advice and friendship! :)
Carolyn Fields from South Dakota, USA on October 20, 2020:
Excellent list. I think I will make #30 my #1. As long as you draw breath, you can make life better.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 20, 2020:
That pretty much covers it all, doesn't it? Thanks for the reminder, of course, although I'm pretty good about staying thankful. My life is a sheer joy on a daily basis.
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on October 19, 2020:
Thank you Pamela! :)
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 19, 2020:
I think writing is very therapeutic and your sugestions are excellent, Alyssa. I think writing on all of these topics give us a better perspective on our lives. We have so much to be grateful for that sometimes we let some iittle problem take over our thoughts and writing is certainly a better thing to do than dwell on something negative.