Although I believe I am the type of person who is naturally quite grateful for the life I live, I never used to give it much thought. Like most people it was often only when something was taken away that I realised how important it was, and when something new arrived I was only grateful for a short amount of time before it became the norm and I stopped thinking about it.
For example, being in my position, while I certainly do not have the monopoly on being ill I do have times when things are more difficult. I get chest infections and pressure sores, and regular illnesses knock me back more than most. On several occasions over the past 20 years I’ve had to stay in bed for more than a week because of an illness. On the day I get out of bed, back into the chair and am mobile again, I’m happy for a while – but it doesn’t take long before I forget how much it sucked being in bed and start taking my normal level of health for granted.
For the past eight months I’ve been writing a gratitude list every morning to keep me mindful of the things I have that I’m grateful for. I try to make sure it consists of at least five items every day.
What is a gratitude list?
Simply put, it is a list of things you are grateful for at that exact time. You can note down anything you are grateful for, you can include as much detail as you want and make it any format you like.
Why make a gratitude list?
Most people are not ungrateful in life, but they don’t very often put any thought into the things they have. This is exactly what the gratitude list is about. It reinforces a positive attitude by making you sit up and take notice at the start of every day that you have things to be thankful for.
Let’s say you have a child. When was the last time you took a moment out to be thankful that they are healthy? Look at it the other way; how much more do you notice those occasions when they are ill? Keeping a gratitude list will help you to take note of the everyday good things, not just the bad.
Sounds good, what I have to do to start a gratitude list?
There are many different ways people keep a gratitude list. The most common is to make a list first thing in the morning, either by thinking things through in your head, saying them out loud, or by writing them down. I recommend a combination of all three – think about what you are grateful for first, then condense those thoughts into a list format. Although there are no hard and fast rules here are a few guidelines I personally try to stick to:
- Do it every morning.
- Write at least five things. Don’t just list two obvious things and give up.
- Try not to repeat anything from the previous day. Really think!
- It doesn’t matter whether you think it would matter to anyone else; this is your list.
- Never think anything is too small or insignificant to be grateful for.
Of course these are just my thoughts and even I do not stick to these points religiously, but I hope you find them useful in starting to be mindful of the things you have in life.
Take a short moment after writing each point to actually feel grateful, don’t let writing the list become a routine or chore that you just rattle off before you brush your teeth. If you struggle, consider that sometimes you might need to imagine what it would be like to lose something to really appreciate it.
I find writing my list always starts the day off on a positive note. Whatever frame of mind I woke up with, I consciously begin my day thinking about something positive. You have to think of something first in your day; why not make it a good and uplifting thing? You are never too young or old to start doing this – in fact I highly recommend it is done regularly with children, as it will not only form a good habit for them, but genuinely expressing gratitude is a fantastic life skill to learn early and learn well.
Sometimes I post my daily list on my Facebook page. I used to be embarrassed about the insignificant things I’d include each day, but now I don’t care. If I am thankful for the fact that I can breathe then that is what I write. Some may think that’s weird, but to me it’s important. I’ve had difficulty in my life with breathing many times.
Here is my list this morning.
- My dog is healthy at the moment.
- I have no sores and don’t have to stay in bed.
- I have new batteries in my chair.
- My Internet has stopped playing up.
- Although I loved having my friends staying I am grateful for the peace and quiet now they’ve gone home!
I’d love to read what you’re grateful for right now. Leave a comment and let me know.