Gratitude: It Starts With a List

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

The most common and ancient advice you hear about developing a practice of gratitude is the idea of counting your blessings.  Every positivity book I have ever laid my hands on has a section that encourages making regular, even daily lists of the blessings in your life. Taken to the next step, this daily listing lives in a gratitude journal.

I have had an approach/avoidance relationship to my own little pink gratitude journal that is decorated with a paisley yellow bird. I chose it in one of my inspired moments with gratitude, determined to fill it up with what I promised myself would be my new consciousness of the blessings that fill my life. It is a small, pocket sized book that I began writing in February.

I feel a little embarrassed that there are still so many pages to fill in such a small book.  My original plan was to carry it with me in my purse, thinking I would stop throughout my day to jot down moments of gratitude.   Lately it sits on my night stand where I recollect feelings of gratitude before I sleep. The book is filling up more regularly now but as I move into this gratitude challenge, I know there is a real and important difference between listing the things I am grateful for and actually feeling them.

Learning how to recollect and experience the felt sense of moments of gratitude takes my full attention in a way that listing my blessings doesn’t. Tapping the soft space inside, where my heart holds the memory of being loved, of loving, of feeling well in myself is akin to feeling deeply blessed, which I think is where gratitude and love are one in the same.

Still, on the many moments when I have no idea how to get to that tender hearted place where I feel in every cell the blessings of my life- making a list is a noble start. It is the mental practice,  the promise kept of leaning towards the goodness that we all have in our lives.  Aldous Huxley  accurately noted that, “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Making a commitment to a gratitude journal or even just scratching notes on the evening paper about our own good is how we begin to overcome this most common human deficiency that keeps us ever looking out there for what must be found inside.   If you have never done it before, try today to list five, or heck, even ten things that bless you. It can be as small as finding a parking place or as big as the beauty of an evening sunset. It can be a cold drink on a hot, sticky day or a moment of tenderness with someone you are trying to love. Do this one thing: write it down and acknowledge it.

Positivity Quest: A Summer of Gratitude



Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

rene davis
irene davis5 years ago


Tim Cheung
Tim C6 years ago


Harsha Vardhana R
Harsha Vardhana6 years ago

Thanks for the article. I got it when I was searching for gratitude.

I am making my list today!!

Jessie D.
Jessie D6 years ago

Gratitude List July 31, 2011

1) my Beloved
2) that he is quitting smoking
3) that I can focus today on understanding rather than to be understood, to loved rather than to be loved
4) going to road trip to see family and go to lake Michigan over the next few days
5) that my sponsor had me strategize and pre plan AA meetings while I am there
6) that I am sober today and able to be of use to others, I hope ;)
7) that I can surprise my brother for his birthday!
8) naps
9) supports, friends, supportees
10) my new sponsor

gotta go! namaste

Leslie M.
Leslie M6 years ago

Wendy, you have a true gift for getting the message across! Seeing the THANK YOU written in the sand reminds me of Bridgit S in Arch Cape OR who used to leave wonderful quotations written in the sand on her daily walks. She passed on a few years ago, and she will always be missed.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Gloria Wood
Gloria Wood6 years ago

Don't forget that a word of gratitude to another, with a specific comment, can lift their spirits as well. Being grateful without expressing thanks is like wrapping a gift and never giving it.

Akin Adelakun
Akin Adelakun6 years ago

What a great article

Anita R.
Anita R.6 years ago

I've kept a Gratitude Journal for two or three years now, although I don't write in it everyday. It's a wonderful way to remind yourself of the many uplifting blessings in your life.

However, over time, I have cut my writing down to one thing that I am grateful for because I tend to expand on that gratitude and it becomes more a full fledged journal entry. Because of that I have also taken to noting time of day, weather conditions, temperature and if the day was significant in any other way - eg. Mother's Day.

I like the idea of putting pictures of things, people, etc. in it as well. That would make it even more fun to look back.