A pet rat and a dragon tattoo. Those were the first – and only – two things on my gratitude list when I was introduced to the gratitude concept years ago. Thankfully, the scope, power and crucial importance of a gratitude list eventually became clearer, while its benefits have pretty much come to blow my mind (in a good way).
What’s a gratitude list?
In its simplest sense, a gratitude list is a rundown of things you appreciate. And no, you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to break one out. Gratitude lists work as reminders of the jolly good things in your life, allowing you to focus on them instead of the crummy stuff.
Your mind tends to amplify whatever you focus on, so focusing on the good makes the good get bigger. Focusing on the crap, well, pretty much turns any day into your average Monday morning.
Gratitude lists are fabulous fixes for helping you shake yourself out of the doldrums when you’re going through a particularly awful day, week or situation. But they’re even more powerful when used a bit differently on a daily basis.
The foxhole gratitude list
Here’s where a long rundown of everything you can think of can go onto the list, providing a snapshot of the dozens of things you appreciate. They can range from your home to your dogs, from brilliant sunsets to warm corned beef from Katz’s Deli.
Try keeping up your crankiness when your mind is graced with thoughts of dogs, sunsets and warm corned beef. Pretty tough, right?
You can think of this as your foxhole gratitude list, or one you use for a quick fix when the world may otherwise feel like it’s crashing down on your head.
You write. You review. You conquer crankiness. I’ve used this method in many a pinch. It had also been the same type of list I’d make every morning when I first started a daily gratitude practice. Then my coaching training gave me a way to make the daily gratitude practice even better.
The daily gratitude zone
A daily gratitude list can take the whole concept to amazing new heights, plunging you into a full-fledged gratitude zone. That’s because your goal isn’t simply listing a huge batch of items you appreciate. It’s reflecting on how the items on your list make you feel, or actually recreating the feeling of gratitude in your body.
Start with one item to see how it goes. Write down something that brought on a feeling of appreciation or gratitude. (Dogs can again work here. Actually, dogs can work anywhere.)
- What situation brought on the gratitude?
- What emotions did you feel with this gratitude?
- What did your body do in response to these emotions?
Close your eyes. Think about it. And don’t open your eyes until that same feeling of appreciation is actually surging through your body.
Instead of simply reviewing a list of items that’s processed by the logical left side of your brain, you’re putting the right side of your brain to work recreating the sensations and emotions that trump logic every single time.
True, this type of gratitude list takes a bit longer than the foxhole list, but you can keep it super-short by sticking with three items. When you bring that sensation of gratitude back to your body, it can not only quash whatever may be ailing you at the moment, but it can set the foundation, vibe and your mood for the entire day.
Memories of my pet rats and dragon tattoos may still make my daily list, but they now come with warm, fuzzy feelings of love and admiration that help boost my attitude moving forward. Give the daily gratitude zone thing a whirl; let me know how it goes! Or share other tips for amping up your daily gratitude.
Love this kind of stuff? Then you’ll dig Rynski life coaching. Set up a free consultation now.