Doing Gratitude All Wrong

Hard to believe I could screw up being grateful, right? I was.

For years I’ve dipped in and out of doing gratitude lists. Sometimes I’d do a list of 100, others I’d come up with 5 things a day. The problem is that on days when it was hard, I’d cop out and write things like, “the sun, my dog, I’m grateful this day is over.”

Now, these are perfectly valid things for me to be grateful for, but by the third time one of these general items made it to my list, they stopped inspiring a feeling of gratitude. It’s the feeling the list inspires, not the list itself that creates effective change in the brain.

I decided to shake things up a bit.

My daily gratitude practice now consists of 3 things that happened that day. And I’m not talking, “the sun rose today.” However, “I’m really grateful the sun was out today because I loved working outside.” The former is abstract, the latter, grounded in the day’s experience. 

This subtle change has worked wonders:

  • I now constantly scan my environment for the positive.
  • By using specific events, I relive the joy of those events as I record them.
  • I purposely engage in activities I know will bring me pleasure or peace of mind.

Could your gratitude practice use some tweaking? Let me know in the comments!

image via Pink Sherbet Photography