If you were to spend your day researching happiness, you could read fascinating articles and gather up tons of cool tips. You’d discover that happiness is not something you chase, but something you acquire by making meaningful progress on your goals and spending time on what you value most. Happiness comes from loving the journey, not pursuing it as a destination. But if every positive psychologist, happiness expert and social scientist could only give you one secret to unlock your happiness, it would be this: Gratitude. You can’t feel or be happy if you don’t take notice. Gratitude is all about raising your awareness on your incredible life. To help you unlock more happiness in your life, we put together this ultimate gratitude list just for you.
Wake up early. Many people wake up with just enough time to dash around and get everything done before heading off to work or to the gym. What if you woke up 15 minutes earlier to give yourself some breathing space to review all the wonderful things coming up in your day? Take that gratitude time before your day takes over.
Write down your core values. What do you care about most? We experience more gratitude for our lives when we align how we spend our time with what we care about the most. Look at your list of core values and decide if you are devoting enough time to the priorities that drive you.
Set a positive intention. Approach your day with a positive intention: I am going to enjoy this beautiful morning by being fully present. Or: I am going to work out this morning and start my day strong. And: I am going to fuel my body with a healthy breakfast so I can be full of energy. Every positive action step begins with the seed of an intention.
Notice the small. An easy breezy way to practice gratitude is to just tell yourself to start noticing and appreciating the small stuff. Begin with your morning cup of coffee, a smile from your spouse, a favorite colored pen, a giggle from your kids, a beautifully decorated room, or a sunny day. The more you practice noticing all the small things you appreciate, the easier it will be for you to practice gratitude naturally.
Designate a place of gratitude. Find a place in your house where you can collect a few things that make you happy. I have a stack of three colorful journals on my desk that make me happy. Each one has a different use: favorite quotes, writing tips, and one designated specifically for gratitude … but we will get to that in a minute. You can use a bulletin board to post pictures that make you happy, inspiring quotes, motivational images or personal achievements. The key is having a place that makes you feel filled with gratitude when you see it.
Write down three things daily. Back to the gratitude journal … I love beautiful notebooks, but you can use your iPhone or Android if you prefer. Record three things you are grateful for today. Try to come up with new things each day to expand your awareness.
Thank someone. When we think positive thoughts about other people they often go unexpressed. Tell your parents thank you for how incredible they are. Share with your friend that she inspires you to up your workout game. Share your gratitude for friends by thanking them for their generosity or kindness.
Track your progress on a goal. Bask in the gratitude that comes from seeing the results of your actions. Even small improvements or progress helps you to feel optimistic and grateful.
Do some random acts of kindness. Notice how many kind things you do a day, like smiling at a stranger or opening a door for someone.
Love the contrasts. If the summer sunshine is your thing, know that you love it so much because you made it through this thing called winter. Winter gives you the gift of appreciation of summer. Instead of lamenting changes you don’t like, realize the contrast is the gift. A sleepy day where you feel dragging will make you appreciate the day when you are supercharged. Enjoy the beauty of upcoming holidays rather than wishing they didn’t come so soon. Not living by the ocean can make you appreciate an ocean view even more.
Make a list of your favorite things. Playing with my toddler girls, date nights, reading, writing, running … Okay, that’s the start of my list, back to you. Make a list of your favorite things to do. How often do you do those things? Too often we push our favorites to the side to do all the things we are supposed to do. Prioritize you and you will feel more gratitude guaranteed.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward
Use your shower time wisely. Why not use the calm relaxation of your shower to mentally review what’s spectacular about your life?
Look for the good. In every mishap, closed door, lost opportunity or adversity, there is something good you can find. Decide you will always look for the good. You might find a lesson, a bit of wisdom, a new opportunity, rocket fuel for your next goal, or strength you didn’t know you had.
Related: 3 Simple Ways To Thrive
Go around the dinner table and share the best part of your day. Teach your kids gratitude by living it. As you enjoy dinner, go around the table and share the best highlight of your day. You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to express gratitude out loud.
Go with gratitude when you can’t sleep. Stress and To Do lists as long as your arm can keep you awake at night. Skip counting sheep and count your blessings to get back to sleep. Give your mind the peace and joy that comes from ruminating in all that is wonderful about your life.
Surround yourself with the positive. Science tells us that we are greatly influenced by our associations, so try and make sure the people you spend most of your time with are positive. Limit time with toxic people. Aspire to be around those who lift you up. Positive quotes, images and stories help too. So do flowers on your desk or dining room table. Create an environment that makes you feel positive.
Listen to your favorite music. Music that resonates with you can lift your spirits immeasurably. Use music to inspire you to feel more gratitude for your life.
Don’t set yourself up expecting the worst. When something goes wrong early in your day (break a nail, running late, a challenge at work) you might have a tendency to do what Dr. Michael Mantell calls “awfulizing” or “terriblizing” and you start expecting the rest of your day to go down the drain too. Don’t go down that mental rabbit hole. As he suggests, “Plan for the good, deal with the bad.”
Savor. Ever sip a cup of coffee slowly because it tastes so good and it’s the perfect temperature? You don’t want your happy moment with your warm coffee to end, so you sip slowly. This is savoring. Savoring is a way to make your happiness moments last longer. Savor vacation by taking pictures to enjoy later. Savor your family by putting your phone down, and looking around and feeling appreciative. Savor by immersing yourself in the present moment.
Send an email. Our social connections with others are instrumental to our happiness. Foster your relationships by expressing appreciation for the people in your life—both personally and professionally. What if you sent one positive email each week to someone?
Give back by sharing this list. Nothing can make you feel more gratitude than knowing you helped someone else to be happier. Share this ultimate gratitude list with someone you care about.
Talk to us. Tell us: Do you have a gratitude practice? We’d love to hear about it below.
Unlock more happiness in your life by practicing gratitude and live with a greater sense of fulfillment.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle