7 Gratitude List Ideas & Alternatives to Keep the Joy Alive
Don't feel like writing down 3-5 things you’re grateful for, even though you know it’s good for you? Good news: there are options! Here are a few ways to make the gratitude list a little more enticing, and maybe part of your everyday life.
“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given to you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach
By now, you’ve probably heard countless times that gratitude is good for you. It has been shown to improve sleep, self-esteem, physical health, psychological health, emotional resilience, and relationships. All of that, plus it’s free. So, you practice gratitude every single day, right?
I know: I know that gratitude is good for me in all sorts of ways too, but common knowledge doesn’t equal common practice. This is why I wanted to share a few gratitude list ideas and alternatives with you today that are easy enough to practice on a regular basis.
When the ordinary jot-three-to-five-things-down-in-your-gratitude-journal just isn’t happening for you, here are seven alternatives to keep you feeling like you truly are blessed to be here at all. I supplied a short explanation, a prompt, and my answers to get the joy flowing in your direction.
The slight variations with each exercise could be what you need to refresh your appreciation and get you thinking about all sorts of reasons why it’s good to be alive.
7 Gratitude List Ideas & Alternatives to Keep the Joy Alive
1. “I Got To” List
Listing off what we’re grateful for is sometimes made easier if we approach it with a specific set of words in mind. In this case, considering what we “got to experience” today elicits a sensation of appreciation without us having to think too hard. I had no idea what I was grateful for today, but this prompt was swiftly followed by answers.
Go ahead and try it for yourself. What did you get to do, have, be, or experience today that you enjoyed or found meaning in?
Today I got to…
Stay at home all day writing. Meditate for however long I wanted to in the morning. Finish two blog posts like I wanted to. Jog on the treadmill for 1.5 miles.
2. “I Didn’t Have To” List
Sometimes, we can be thankful for the things that didn’t happen to us. I wrote about that a few weeks ago when I was inspired by extraordinarily frustrating situations; I remembered that I didn’t always have days like this (thankfully) and it helped me put things in perspective.
This is a useful list to make when you’re not feeling particularly thankful. It’s also an approach you can take when someone else is going through something you wouldn’t want to go through. In the case of the latter, after you’ve offered to help the person in need, go ahead and jot down what you’re grateful not to have.
Today, I didn’t (have to)…
Go to multiple doctor’s appointments. Make or answer any unwanted phone calls. Search in vain for my lost piece of jewelry.
Expressing gratitude is like growing young in the heart.
3. “Things I’ve Received” List
We receive more than we tend to think we do, so this list might require that you dig a little bit deeper to extract your hidden-in-plain-sight blessings, gifts, joys, or whatever you want to call them. Whatever they are, you’re glad they were given to you.
Since this could be a little more of a challenge (but possibly more rewarding as a result) you can go through your week, month, or even the past year to hunt and gather what you’re grateful for having received.
This week/month/year, I received…
An offer to write a book, which I accepted. The title of Auntie. More help with my website than ever before.
4. “Favorite Little Things” List
Gratitude really doesn’t have to be complicated. If all you did was think of the tiny, little things that you saw or experienced today that made you smile, laugh, get curious or present, or appreciate just being alive, I bet you could list them off pretty easily. Make it simple.
My favorite little things today were…
Getting to walk across the street to my mom’s house. Practicing yoga for a few minutes without my lower back hurting. Looking up at the sky while it was snowing and thinking it was beautiful. Hugging my boyfriend when he got home.
Allow yourself to be grateful for small things, things that seem to be too insignificant for gratitude. Gratitude is what turns a meal into a feast.
5. Spoken Gratitude List
When do you normally talk to yourself? In the car, when you’re home alone or doing the laundry, walking the dog or making a meal? Use your self-conversations as a means of expressing your gratitude.
As you’re walking around the house, driving or stuck in traffic, spend your time audibly describing (in detail) what you could express sincere thanks for right now.
I am so thankful that my schedule is flexible enough to allow me to go to the chiropractor mid-morning. I love the way the light shines perfectly through the window like that. I can play whatever song I want in my car through my phone; that’s awesome that I live in a time with this kind of technology.
6. Public Gratitude List
If you’re on social media, use your platform for something positive! I know it can seem strange at first to tell the whole world what you’re grateful for this week, but you might inspire someone else to think about what they’re grateful for. It beats spreading around negativity.
Try sharing a few things that went well for you this week or month, things you’ve accomplished, people who helped you, people you’ve been blessed to help, etc. If nothing else, at least you’re promoting what you love which puts you in good standing for more of it.
Making your gratitude list public also holds you accountable. It can not only improve your mood but solidify your commitment to this mood-boosting practice (especially if others start to engage with you, sharing their good stories and positive responses).
This week, these good things (or this good thing) happened:
I received technical assistance with coding for my new website so I didn’t have to figure everything out all on my own. My boyfriend surprised me at work with a coffee. I turned a bad mood around in 60 seconds.
Promoting what you love puts you in good standing for experiencing more of it.
7. “What Are You Grateful For?” List
This approach focuses on others. Your happy task would be to ask at least one other person every day what they’re grateful for, using whatever language you’d like to extract the joy from their experiences.
For example, instead of asking someone what they do for a living, ask them what they’re grateful for. Ask them what brings them joy, what they like about their work, or what’s going well in their life right now.
Make it a part of your dinner table talk, and go around the table to see what the best part of everyone’s day was.
At the end of the day, recount your conversations and write down what other people were happy/grateful for today.
______ (insert name of the grateful person) is grateful for…
Receiving positive new about a health concern… Being able to come to a job they don’t hate… Being able to go home to love.
. . .
How do you practice gratitude?
Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I’d love to know!
Shine on what you already love.
P.S. Want 100 reasons to be grateful tonight? Get my book Sleep Rituals for 100 at-home practices that are all about you. You'll think, breathe, sleep, and feel... better.
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