Why you should write a gratitude list – and how to do it

-Apr 27, Jenny Paul , Health -

Don’t let negativity drag you down! Boost your spirits and alter your mindset by writing down all the things you actually have to be grateful for. 

The power of positive thinking is often underrated, especially when you’re in a situation where you think there’s not a lot to be grateful for! But there’s a lot to be said for looking around and seeing the glass half empty, rather than half full and that’s where writing a gratitude list comes into play. 

If you’re stuck in a slump or you’re simply looking for a way to brighten your days, then try putting pen to paper for this super uplifting lesson in positivity.  

Writing a gratitude list is simply a daily ritual, which takes very little time at all, but can be incredibly rewarding. Being grateful has consistently been shown to improve happiness, better relationships and your health too. So where do you begin?

Related: 10 motivational TED talks to boost your health and happiness

Pick a book

Since this is a daily habit – which you’ll like want to look back on – you’ll want to find a journal or notepad to write your list on. Scraps of paper get easily lost and aren’t particularly appealing. Make your journal your own and then ensure you lay it on your nightstand so it’s there for you to jot thoughts down on when you go to bed as well.

Use a pen

It can be tempting to turn to your computer or phone to make your notes, but there’s something cathartic and less robotic about physically writing your list. So grab a pen or pencil for your journal and give technology a miss if you can. 

Start small

Every day life likely isn’t going to present you with monumental moments you’ll cherish, remember and be grateful for, for the rest of your life. So don’t waste precious time worrying that you don’t have anything major to write down. That’s kind of the point. 

The key is to look around you and notice the small things, which often fly under the radar. “I could drink clean water”, “I’m breathing”, “I have somewhere to sleep” or “somebody loves me”. 

Begin by promising you’ll write three things down and before you know it you’ll like have a longer list than you thought possible. 

Make it routine

For many of us time is tight and the thought of adding to our hectic schedules sends us into a panic. But this is a practice which truly takes very little time, but benefits us in amazing ways. So build it into your daily routine and make it as habitual as brushing your teeth. 

Related: How to adopt a healthy new habit

Don’t dwell on rules

Most importantly know that there really isn’t a right or a wrong way to write your list. The points above are just helpful guidelines. Rules shouldn’t eclipse the process, and you deserve a pat on the back simply for setting the goal to write the gratitude list in the first place. 

How to be more positive

If you’re negativity is truly hindering your ability to form a list, don’t despair. To begin with simply make steps to becoming a more positive person. Adopt some of the tips below and when you feel a little more optimistic, introduce the gratitude journal into your life. 

  • avoid negative people – it’s almost impossible to be upbeat if you surround yourself with people who are constantly negative. There’s a big difference between being a shoulder to cry on and being a sounding board for people who zap you of your cheer. 
  • exercise – you’ll feel better about your body and your mind if you add some exercise to your life. Working out releases the happy endorphins and can lower stress too. 
  • healthy eating – a diet packed with unhealthy, processed foods fogs the brain and expands the waistline. Add lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to your plate and you’ll be surprised by how uplifted it can make you feel. 
  • sleep well – being tired can make you feel all kinds of emotions, but positivity is rarely one of them. Waking up well rested can put a real spring in your step however. So work on getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night to boost optimism. 
  • be kind – helping others can instantly improve your mood, even if it’s just paying them a compliment or holding a door open. Aiding others in a less fortunate situation too may make you take a second look at your own life.

If you need some inspiration as to how you can help other people during this difficult time then here are some tips to giving back to your community and why volunteering could help your own health.

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