How to Create a Gratitude List: 6 Steps to Be More Thankful in 2021

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Want a simple way to find the good things in life?

Then one strategy that can help is to create a gratitude list. 

A gratitude list is an actual psychological and emotional key that can unlock a greater sense of happiness about your life.

At minimum, it's an ideal way to gain greater clarity about your life, your priorities, and your future plans. After all, increasing your sense of gratitude is very powerful. It's life-changing!

In this article, we will provide an overview of how gratitude lists work and then provide a step-by-step process to create your own gratitude list.

What is a Gratitude List?

A gratitude list is simply a list you write of things about your life that you can call to mind for which you're grateful. It's a list you can refer to for inspiration, or as a reminder when you want to feel the sense of happiness that comes with thinking about good things in your life.

Why is it important to take a few minutes to think of around 1-10 things you're really grateful for in your life and write them down? Because, practicing gratitude in this way can generate big payoffs in greater happiness and even improved mental and physical health. Research has shown that identifying and writing about positive things in your life for which you feel grateful has a significant positive impact on emotional well-being.

You're not the only one who benefits from your personal increase in your sense of gratitude. Your loved ones, peers, and anyone who communicates with you can benefit from the increased sense of patience, more relaxed demeanor, and increased general sense of happiness and satisfaction with your life that you can gain from taking a few moments to consciously recognize the things about your life for which you can feel grateful.

Writing down things about your life you feel grateful for can help you keep perspective on what’s most important, so that you can better direct your personal energy and time.

Note the common themes that you may see emerging across your gratitude lists, or things that appear regularly on it for which you feel especially grateful. You can use your lists to see what things apparently cause you to feel very grateful, and you can include those more often in your usual routine.

Although there may be no real secret to achieving happiness, making a gratitude list is a scientifically validated method of increasing the sense of joy. The act of acknowledging one's feeling of gratitude is associated with increased positivity and happiness.

These improvements are understood to lead to increased resiliency in managing adversity, improved relationships, and even a greater sense of physical well-being. These are game-changing benefits — all from just expressing gratitude!

How to Write a Gratitude List

Here is a simple step-by-step process for writing your own gratitude list:

1. Keep it simple.

It does not matter how your gratitude list looks, or how it's formatted. It’s a list. It's just a quick and easy expression of things that you’re grateful are in your life. You don't need lengthy explanations. You can just jot down a word or a few words for each list item. Ideally, keep a little notebook or digital file in your phone to use exclusively for your gratitude list, so you can keep your lists together, in one handy place, so you can look back on and enjoy them anytime.

2. Keep it short.

Of course, you can make your descriptions of your items on your gratitude list, or any comment you make about it to express your sense of gratitude for it, as short or long as you wish. There are no rules. If you're writing more than one to a few words on each line, consider using bullet points, so you can easily distinguish your listed items from each other in the big block of text.

3. Expect increasing specificity.

You're likely to start out writing that you're grateful for things you'll describe in broad terms. For example, you might write that you're grateful for your job, your home, your family, your friends, good health, etc. Then, naturally, instead of continuing to repeat those general areas every time you make a new list, eventually you'll probably find your list topics are becoming narrower in scope.

Plus, you'll likely find yourself becoming increasingly aware of more specific things you're grateful for around you every day to include on your next list.

4. Write spontaneously.

Just write down things that occur to you as they come to mind. In other words, don’t spend a lot of time trying to write elaborate descriptions of things you're grateful for.

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Only write down things that occur to you as they come to mind.

Don’t worry about what actually is worth including on your list of things to feel grateful for. If it makes sense to you for any reason, then it's worth including. The list is just for you. There’s no wrong entry of anything you find to be something to feel grateful for in your life.

5. Consider all facets of your life.

Express gratitude in each of these seven primary areas of your life. Think about some things you're grateful for in each of these areas, and maybe write down one or two in each area, or write down as many as you wish in just one or two of these areas on one day, and choose things in others of these areas to write down on other days, in any combinations you wish:

  1. Career
  2. Finances
  3. Health
  4. Relationships
  5. Leisure
  6. Personal Growth
  7. Spirituality

6. Write down things for which you're grateful.

Finally, just write down a list of some things about your life that come to mind in one or multiple of the categories listed above in step 5 above, for which you're grateful. Or, use some of these 22 examples to create, or add to your list of things for which you're grateful:

  1. Financial stability
  2. Skills and talents and opportunities
  3. A comfortable home
  4. A good job
  5. Good health
  6. Love of family
  7. Good friends
  8. Good neighbors
  9. Pets that are a joy  to have in your life
  10. A beautiful view
  11. Having some down-time to enjoy reading a book or listening to music
  12. Spending time outdoors
  13. Spending time in causal communications with friends
  14. Healthy foods
  15. Ability to keep your patience and poise in challenging situations
  16. Beautiful weather
  17. Family members who are happy and doing well
  18. Exciting goals and progress toward them
  19. Excellent recreation
  20. Opportunities to travel
  21. Progress in personal growth
  22. A strengthening sense of spirituality

Check out 120 more good examples of things that you can be grateful for in our post, “120 Gratitude Journal Prompts to Create More Thankfulness in Your Life.”

Of course, for any number of reasons, it's likely to feel a little more challenging than usual to think quickly of a great variety of things to feel grateful for, especially if you're having a rough day.

In such a time, it can be helpful to write down anything you feel grateful for, even the smallest things. Or, maybe write a little note at the bottom of your page, explaining what's happening that is impacting you as you write your list.

Final Thoughts on Creating a Gratitude List

Writing a gratitude list on a regular basis is one of the simplest, easiest, and most enjoyable things you can do to find greater happiness with your life. This simple practice can also help you achieve greater clarity on your short- and long-term goals, and increased focus on priorities that lead to those goals.

What does it take to feel genuine gratitude? It takes simply stopping for a few minutes to consider what there is about your life that you can feel grateful for. It's about taking the satisfying opportunity to stop, be quiet for a few moments, and shift your thinking to focus on what's good in your life — on what you can feel grateful for.

Taking these moments to appreciate the abundance of things you're fortunate to recognize as positive aspects of your life is the actual act of being grateful. It's as simple as that. For the full benefits of practicing gratitude, take a few minutes to write those down. Making gratitude can make the experience of assessing things for which you're grateful much more impactful.

Start practicing gratitude today! Just use the process explained in the seven steps above to create your first gratitude list. For additional helpful information on how to write a gratitude list, or about other fun ways to help improve your health and happiness, see today's feature advice on developing good habits.

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How to Create a Gratitude List: 6 Steps to Be More Thankful in 2021