The Gratitude List

Here’s a gratitude list. I’m grateful for the internet. I’m grateful for our phone service. I’m grateful for being online. And I’m thankful for being able to blog.

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday (Tuesday) on my normal Tuesday and Friday schedule. It was the first time since I started blogging that I’ve missed a scheduled post. We were offline Monday and most of Tuesday because of unusual rainstorms (it’s the dry season)  this weekend that knocked out phone and internet service to our house. The phone repairman came Tuesday afternoon and made some temporary repairs that will hopefully last until a damaged cable can be replaced.

For the past six weeks I’ve been keeping a daily gratitude list. The list can be mundane like the first paragraph above. Basically anything you’ve come across in your life resulting in a feeling of thankfulness is worthy of jotting down on your list.

The idea of keeping a gratitude list pops up when researchers talk about factors that influence people’s happiness. It’s an easy thing to do with outsized benefits when it’s done with the idea that you’re trying to become happier,versus just going through the motions. A gratitude list pushes you to pay attention to things in your life you might otherwise take for granted. One researcher suggests viewing the items you list as “gifts” you want to savor.

It’s easy to do. I think it’s good to use a cheap spiral bound notebook or any thing you’re not too fussy about. If you get a fancy leather-bound journaling books  you may be reluctant to write all the simple and private things you’re grateful for in such a permanent feeling “book.” With a cheap notebook, you can tear out pages and even chuck the whole thing out when it’s full, who cares? The point is to write just four or five sentences that mean something to you and aren’t for anyone else. Don’t worry about spelling or penmanship.

Like most new habits the hardest part is just starting. But if you just break it into small easy chunks you’re on the way. Take it day by day and pick a time that’s convenient, like right before bed. Write the four or five things you’re thankful for, current or older, simple or grand, and especially people. Going for detail about a particular thing is more effective than a superficial listing. If removing something from your life would make your life less enjoyable it’s a good candidate.

And you can be grateful for this: once you establish the habit the research seems to show that doing it once or twice a week is effective too.