When things get tough in life, how do you react? Do you easily get upset and feel full of self-pity or are you are able to see the good in everything and make the best out of a bad situation?
You may think that your approach to these situations is based on your personality type – “some people have it and some people don’t”! But what if I was to tell you that you can become the sort of person who sees the glass half full instead… the secret? Keeping a gratitude list.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is the act or feeling of being appreciative or thankful towards someone or something.
This could be someone who has helped you recently or simply feeling grateful for life itself!
Practising gratitude involves identifying and recognising positive things within your day-to-day life and taking time to appreciate them. Sometimes this feeling can last only a couple of seconds, but noticing these things can have huge benefits to your mental health and others around you.
What is a Gratitude List?
Put simply, a gratitude list is a list we create for the things we are thankful for! For many, they can be a fulfilling step in finding happiness in all corners of life.
There isn’t a set number of things we need to write down and it doesn’t matter how often you do one (although you’ll see the most benefits with daily practice).
There isn’t even a ‘correct’ way of writing them – some people may like to use bullet points, others prefer long sentences and some use notepads with gratitude lists built in!
By writing down what we are grateful for on paper, we are able to turn our focus to them on an even deeper level and look back on our day from a more positive and meaningful perspective. In fact, the benefits of writing things down can be found here!
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Benefits of a Gratitude List
When we think happy thoughts, this has an impact on how we feel and what we do. This is a fundamental belief in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and can be linked to the Law of Attraction.
If we start looking for certain things in life, we’re more likely to find them. Gratitude lists follow the same principle – the more we look for the good in things, the more likely we will view the world in a positive light.
The benefits of writing a gratitude list are huge from a mental, physical and spiritual perspective and have been proven again and again.
1. Mental Benefits
Practising gratitude regularly has a number of psychological benefits including improving self-esteem and getting rid of negative emotions such as anger, jealousy or sadness!
When we write a gratitude list, our brains release dopamine and serotonin – two ‘happy’ hormones that make us feel lighter and happier. These make us feel good, and have been linked to alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Gratitude lists can also reduce the stress hormone cortisol, meaning we are more able to manage stress when it comes our way.
Gratitude lists also have the effect of influencing those around us. Studies show that when we practice gratitude, we are able to understand and empathise with other people’s feelings better and even treat others in a kinder way even when given negative feedback. Also, appreciation of others’ actions towards us can help strengthen relationships and lead to new opportunities.
2. Physical Benefits
If the psychological benefits of a gratitude list weren’t enough, being grateful also plays a key part in our physical health too. As we reduce stress levels, this has the effect of reducing blood pressure which is great in improving heart health and reducing the risk of issues such as heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia.
Gratitude lists can also support with improving our quality of sleep, reducing inflammation and even helping with body aches and pains!
3. Spiritual Benefits
Feeling connected spiritually can take many forms and doesn’t necessarily mean spirituality on a religious level. Being in touch with your spiritual side is a form of self-care and helps us understand our place in the wider world.
Through writing a gratitude list, we are able to see things from a different perspective than our individual self and instead as a larger part of the universe. Gratitude also keeps us grounded to nature and our environment by appreciating the good in life around us. When we feel like this, we are more likely to give back to others too!
Alternatives to a Gratitude List
If writing a gratitude list isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways in showing your appreciation for the things around you. Some examples include:
- Writing a journal or log for what you are grateful for
- Keeping a gratitude jar, adding something you are grateful for everyday
- Writing things down on post-it notes to come back to later in the day
- Speaking and sharing what you are grateful for with a friend
Tips for starting a Gratitude List
If writing a gratitude list is something that you would like to start, then here are some top tips you may wish to follow.
- Understand that there isn’t a correct format – some ways could include:
- Bullet points
- Long sentences/journal style
- Post its
- Notepads with gratitude lists
- Try to write at least 3 – 5 things you are grateful for
- If you can, try and practice gratitude daily as this will help make it become more natural to you
- Its OK if your terms are general or specific but you may want to increase specificity to avoid repeating things daily (e.g., I am grateful for my job vs. I am grateful for the flexibility I have in my job)
- Keep it spontaneous and fun. No one is judging you on it so be free to appreciate anything and everything!
One thing we’re grateful for is YOU! If you enjoyed the blog or want to share what you are grateful for then please comment below!