How To Write A Gratitude List (11 Easy Steps)

Did you know writing a list of things you're grateful for is beneficial for your lifestyle?

And that grateful people experience improvements in 7 areas of their life?

Here's a list of 7 things you can improve by practicing gratitude:

  1. Gratitude helps you sleep better
  2. Gratitude improves well-being
  3. Gratitude improves physical health
  4. Gratitude improves self-care
  5. Gratitude contributes to happiness
  6. Gratitude helps build relationships
  7. Gratitude helps reduce aggression 

First let's make sure you understand what a gratitude list is so you write a good one.
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What is a gratitude list?                      

A gratitude list is an acknowledgment or the act of being grateful for the people, experiences and places in your life.

With this in mind, if you don’t put any real feelings or thoughts behind practicing gratitude you might as well not even do it. 

Such as the 7 benefits that grateful people experience in the beginning of this post, you can achieve big results in your lifestyle by simply writing a gratitude list.

Why practicing gratitude works

In the groundbreaking research study by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, “Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.” 

The first scientific study to show “…a positive trait is related to sleep quality…” conducted by Alex M. Wood, Stephen Joseph, Joanna Lloyd and Samuel Atkins.

How to write a gratitude list - 11 easy steps

1. Invest in a notebook or journal

You don’t have to use a fancy journal or notebook. However, you should pick one that encourages you to write in it. Writing a gratitude list like a ritual. Enjoy the process by loving your journal or notebook because it will encourage you to keep writing.

2. Make it a habit

Practicing gratitude is an investment in your self-care. When you set aside time to write a list of things you’re grateful for, you’ll experience the improvements in your quality of life. 

Choose a space to sit and write consistently. When you first start, try to dedicate at least 5 minutes to writing down 1-3 experiences you’re grateful for.

It’s recommended that you write lists by hand. On the positive side there’s no hard rules for writing gratitude lists. Using an app, or dictating a voice note are both acceptable. What matters is the act of giving thanks for the feelings, or lessons you’ve come across.

I encourage you to make gratitude writing a good habit by attaching it onto another preexisting habit. Associating one behavior with another preexisting behavior will “anchor” the habit. An anchor habit is the function you do daily or weekly without fail. It serves as the anchor for which you attach the new habit that you’re creating.

Great examples of existing behaviors to which you can “anchor” gratitude writing are:

  • Making tea or coffee
  • Playing music
  • Breathing exercises
  • Praying
  • Meditating
  • Stretch break
  • Exercise

3. Use categories

Grouping your gratitude into categories makes thinking of ideas easier. Here are 8 gratitude categories to use in your journal: 

  • People
  • Places
  • Skills
  • Experiences
  • Lessons learned
  • Accomplishments
  • Health
  • Lack of sickness/pain

4. Be specific

When you first start making lists it’s okay to have general ideas. As you keep writing its important to get detailed. A superficial list isn’t as helpful as specific items.

5. Use prompts

For example, use the prompt “I am grateful…” for an easy way to acknowledge gratitude. Here are two examples of using this prompt:

“I am grateful for my family that loves me”

“I am grateful for the nutritious food that feeds my body”

“I am grateful for a car that gets me places”

Here are 10 examples of gratitude prompts because sometimes you may not have a clue about what to write: 

  • Something you accomplished today
  • Something someone else did to make you happy
  • What’s something you’re looking forward to?
  • What musician are you grateful for?
  • What’s a tradition are you’re grateful for?
  • What is something beautiful you saw today?
  • What bit of information do you know that you’re grateful for knowing?
  • Name a basic need (food, clean water, safe home) that is being met?
  • Why do you like the city you live in?
  • What is your favorite city in the world?
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6. Have fun

Like I mentioned before there’s no wrong way to write a gratitude list. Each of these 11 steps are guidelines to help you create a positive experience. Try out the steps, see what works for you and adjust as needed. Being grateful should a be a joyful experience.

 7. Remember quality over quantity

Begin with a few items. The list doesn’t have to be long and you can write whatever comes to your mind. The more you write each day or week, the more items will flow from your thoughts. Basically, it gets easier with practice!

 8. Use bullet points

Include bullet points to define your experiences. When you want to review your lists, scanning a few bullet points is much easier than reading through a page of jumbled sentences.

 9. Write often

The more often that you write, the more frequently you can shift your attitude away from negative thought patterns.

10. Keep it fresh

Again, when you first start writing gratitude lists you may notice a pattern of the same items. If you get stuck for ideas use the categories in Step #3 and the prompts in Step #5 of this post to help you.

 11. It’s about feelings and experiences

Writing a gratitude list is about connecting with your feelings. Sometimes those feelings will include the negative stuff. Don’t shy away from exploring lessons you’ve learned from both bad and positive experiences in your lifetime.

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Recap of How To Write A Gratitude List

The practice of writing a gratitude list teaches you there’s always something to be grateful for. Even in the lowest, toughest of times. Share a moment that you're grateful for experiencing in the comments.

Xoxo,
Nicole

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