5 Secrets to Creating an Effective Gratitude List

Are you looking for a daily habit that can enhance your mood, boost your well-being, and help you cope better with stress? Then why not try making a list of things you are grateful for, or a gratitude list?

Making a gratitude list can help you get out of a rut, be more appreciative and help you have a more positive focus and perspective on your life, especially if you’re in a negative mood. It’s quick and easy to get started, so grab a pen and paper and just follow these 3 steps:

Step 1 – Decide What Format to Use

If you like writing things by hand and like to keep journals, then you might like to keep your gratitude list in your existing journal. If you are a “techie” and like to do everything on your phone you might find it easier to keep the list in an app on your phone. There are dedicated electronic apps or you can use the notes app on your phone too.

Also if you are a more visual person, you might even like to use images, or emojis instead of words for fun.

Some friends of mine even speak their list out loud using the built-in voice dictation on their phone into a notes app. This helps them speak and think aloud.

However you keep your list is up to you. The most important thing is to keep it simple and a format you can do quickly so you can make this a regular consistent daily habit.

Step 2 – Stay Focused in The Present

When you’re making a gratitude list, it’s crucial to focus on the present. If you focus too far in the future, or dwell on the past, it tends to lead your mind into a negative perspective. What’s important about your gratitude list is what you are grateful for today, right now. Not what you were grateful for yesterday. Not what you think you’ll be grateful for tomorrow. Just today, right now, in this moment.

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So just take a moment and think about how you feel right now and what you are grateful for right now in this moment.

Step 3 – Make your Gratitude List

So as you stay present in the moment right now, what are you grateful for? What do you appreciate? Who do you appreciate that is in your life? (Family or friends)? What areas of your life are going well that you appreciate? Think about your relationships, think about your emotions, think about your daily interactions, and think of your material possessions. Mostly focus on the feeling of gratitude.

Remember there are no right or wrong answers. You might be grateful for being alive today. Or for having a roof over your head. Or for having food in your refrigerator. And if you are having any challenges, think about what someone who has less than you would look at your life and probably be grateful for.

Step 4 – Add reasons “why”

When you write out your gratitude list, make sure to add some reasons “why.” Instead of just writing out a few things, elaborate on the why – why does this item on your list make you feel grateful? Does it bring you happiness, security, peace, calm, fun, enjoyment, energy, etc?

Including the reasons for why you appreciate each item will make this exercise much more powerful and meaningful for you, especially if you attach your emotional state to it.

Step 5 – Be as specific as possible

Being too vague and general is a common mistake people make when writing out gratitude lists.

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For example instead of writing “my partner” on your gratitude list, be specific about precisely what your partner does for you that you appreciate and using step 4 above, include your emotional state.

For example:

  • “I am grateful for my partner and how it takes care of me and our son. And that makes me feel happy and secure as he provides for our family.”

Hope this example is easy to follow. But it’s really simple, you don’t want this list to become an empty exercise and just a list of words. you want to attach emotion and meaning to it. And being specific will force your mind to be more precise and focused and get the greatest value out of creating a gratitude list.

Step 6 – Look at Your List Before you Go to Bed

A lot of people write a quick 3-5 item gratitude list first thing in the morning. I do that too!

Writing out a quick list in the morning, helps to get your mind focused on what you are grateful for as you start the day. And it helps to keep your mind in a positive space as you go about your day.

One great trick is to make sure to read at your list in the evening before you go to bed. That will prime your subconscious while you sleep. And many people find this helps to really retrain their brain more quickly. And the best thing is its free and easy and only takes about 30 seconds to re-read the list.

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So, try out these tips and let me know what works for you. And please leave a comment below!

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