Why Is It Important to Make a Gratitude List?
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is such a powerful emotion. Over the last several years, I have been focusing on gratitude and applying it to my life. A gratitude list is something that I really recommend. First, I suggest that you find a quiet place, free of distractions. Try to avoid the television or talking to a friend on your mobile phone. I also find it helpful to put on a soft piece of music while doing this.
There are several reasons that a gratitude list is beneficial to enhancing the quality of your life. Some of you may ask, what is gratitude? Let’s get into a technical kind of definition. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, describes gratitude as “not merely a positive emotion; it also improves your health if cultivated” (Winfield).
This article has two parts. The first part will explain the reasons to write a gratitude list. The second part focuses on how many things we can be grateful for, even when we find it hard to do so.
Reason #1: A Gratitude List Spreads Good Feelings Through You
- A gratitude list makes you feel good. This exercise is a positive one that takes your focus away from your complaints or problems and helps you begin to focus on what is good in your life. You could just as easily take a look around you and say to yourself that you don’t have the kind of house that you want or that you don’t have the kind of life that you want now. Those are the kinds of things that you don’t need. Instead, take a step back and focus on what you already have. If you look carefully around you, you will find the good things in your life. For example one of them could be that you have the eyesight to read this. Even Dr. Joe Vitale mentions gratitude in the famous documentary film The Secret. This writer (me) had a gratitude list of 100 items before he had to format his hard drive. Nonetheless, just the action of writing a gratitude list and then reading it so that it sticks in your head as positive self-talk then leads to…
Reason #2: Opens You Up To Other Possibilities
2. A Gratitude list opens up the world to you. Over time, gratitude opens up the world to you because one good thing after another begins to manifest in your life. I have seen it and continue to see evidence of the good things that are out there. The holiday season and the New Year of 2017 is here and this is a great time to write that list. The gratitude list can be as long as you like. You can make that list as short as 10 items or as long as 100 items. Note: as of 2018 I have a 46 item gratitude list and I am trying to make that a 50 item list.
Reason #3: Helps You Become More Motivated And Increases Your Self-Esteem
3. A Gratitude list helps you to become more motivated to do other things. Gratitude increases your self-esteem and makes you feel like you are deserving of everything in this world. You become more positive and anything that is negative you become more capable to stay away from those negative things. A negative attitude cannot exist in a person who is grateful. On a related note, you can set a realistic goal or goals that can even serve as New Year’s resolutions.
Reason #4: Increases Your Appreciation of Life
4. And keeping a Gratitude list increases your appreciation of life and helps you believe and have faith that you can achieve anything you want to. I truly believe that I am destined to have a great life filled with prosperity and success. I suggest that you practice gratitude on a daily basis because it will change your life for the better. The Roman politician Cicero once said that “Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues but it is the parent of all others.” This quote is really inspiring because it shows the power that a grateful heart can have in healing us. I will always remember this quote forever.
When you express gratitude, make sure to write it down in a journal
How to Write a Gratitude List
Here is an important question to ask you. I think many people overlook this and don’t really pay much attention to it. And this has to do with gratitude. Gratitude is not the same as giving thanks to someone. Gratitude is a really deep appreciation for all the things that you currently have in your life. Gratitude is about feeling deep inside of you that you are totally satisfied with what you have despite the circumstances in your life or in the world. Our lives do not need to be perfect for us to express our gratitude for things. One of the strategies that I find to be most effective is writing out or typing up a list of things that you are grateful for having. Your list can be as short as 10 things or it can be as long as 100 things. This decision is totally up to you.
How long is your gratitude list? I hope that you can make it at least 50 items long. And if you can come up with more things to be grateful for that’s even better!
You want to be able to have fun with this. That is the important step in this process. Feeling good about you is extremely important. This exercise should never be a chore. I have gotten so good with gratitude that I find myself even enjoying taking a hot shower. I even enjoy brushing my teeth in the morning because I feel refreshed after doing that. This is your chance to express to the Universe what you are grateful for having. So please have fun with this process and do not stress out over this. And as you write your list, write it in the present tense. You can say something like I am so happy and grateful for_______________. You can obviously fill in the blanks with whatever you want.
Focus On What You Are Grateful For, Not on Your Struggles
I know that some of you might be asking, “Ara, how can I be grateful when I have lost my job, and the bank is about to foreclose on my home, and I have a family to feed?” I certainly understand the frustration that you may be feeling. You are not alone. Millions of people around the world are struggling as a result of what has happened since late 2007. I’m not asking you to ignore your situation. What I am saying here is that you most probably have things to be grateful for so focus on those things.
Focus on the things that you can change. You can be grateful for what you have. It is also proven that the more you are grateful, the more good you will bring into life. That is the first step in this process. Then, we should write a list of what we want to have happen in our lives; this will allow us to implement a plan of action. But that’s a topic for another day. There's a reason why parents usually tell their children to count their blessings. We all should do this, and it is part of gratitude.
Winfield, Chris. "13 Things I’ve Learned Writing 1,024 Gratitude Lists." n.d. chriswinfield.com. 2 January 2017.
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© 2017 Ara Vahanian