The power of gratitude has been hailed as life-changing. Over the years it’s gained a cult-like following with its converts including psychologists to Hollywood celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. And gratitude is much more than the irritating social media posts of #blessed #grateful. Gratitude has been proven to increase job satisfaction, boost immunity and improve sleep.
Adding further to its appeal, gratitude is an extremely accessible practice – all we need is paper and a pen.
Oh, and something to be grateful for….and that’s where many of us get stuck.
Despite the power of gratitude, many of us find ourselves staring blankly at our gratitude journal, tapping our pen, trying desperately to think of something different to write. So how can we practically apply the power to gratitude in the real world?
To answer this, I’m going to share my nonsense, psychology-based gratitude guide on the power of gratitude. We’ll look at – what is gratitude, what’s the point of practicing gratitude and some gratitude journal prompts that will show you how to feel gratitude every day.
Before we dive into the practical stuff like gratitude journal prompts – let’s first look at what we’re prompting ourselves to feel, and look at the definition of gratitude.
Gratitude is the appreciation of life. It’s about finding the small blessings in life. And often these blessings don’t automatically spring to mind, because we take them for granted. After all, when you grow up in a world where you have access to running water, the right to vote, books, music, nature – you come to expect those things.
Gratitude provides the opportunity to be more attentive to the good things in life. It’s a chance to make you feel good about the life you’re living. And that’s an opportunity not to be missed.
Perhaps the best gratitude definition comes from Harvard Health who define gratitude as “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible” and it continues to say that “With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves”.
In short, gratitude pulls our awareness to expand beyond our immediate problems. It enables us to see the bigger picture, like the people who support us and the beauty of the world we live in. Gratitude won’t solve everything, but it will make things easier to solve.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF GRATITUDE?
Starting a gratitude journal can feel easy at first. Typically begin with all the obvious stuff; friends, family, job, health, and pets. And then by day five, we’re struggling to think of new examples. Throw in a bit of stress, and a few problems and it’s easy to feel your gratitude levels dwindle. But the power of gratitude pays off in the long run, but it requires a willingness to be compassionate and patient with yourself.
Here are some examples of gratitude:
#1 LOOK FOR THE OBSCURE
The best examples of gratitude often come in the form of the obscure and overlooked. In one workshop I’ve had people express gratitude for the internet, running, elevators, flowers, public transport, and dentists. There are so many tiny pieces in our world that make it work, challenging yourself to notice some examples of gratitude that are a bit ‘off beat’ is a great way to unlock the power of gratitude in your life.
#2 TUNE INTO SIMPLE PLEASURES
Look for the small things that bring you happiness each day. When we start to take time to notice during your day the little things that bring you joy, you’ll notice how you bring awareness to these simple pleasures. It could be a smile from a stranger, a thank you from a co-worker, a great conversation with an old friend. As you tune into the small pleasures, you’ll feel a greater since of gratitude.
#3 SHOW YOUR GRATITUDE
Whether it’s a kindly-worded email, a tip, a gift, charity donation, or signing a petition for better working rights – showing gratitude through action is a great way to feel more grateful. Expressing our gratitude, giving back, and feeling part of something greater than ourselves is a great way to show solidarity, feel connected to the world and feel better about life. (If you want some more tips remember to scroll to the end to get your list of gratitude journal prompts).
WHAT DO YOU WRITE IN A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
The best strategy is not to overcomplicate what to write in your gratitude journal. It’s not a test or a right or wrong exercise. Simply pick three things you’re grateful for and write them down.
My personal preference is to practice it first thing in the morning (in fact it’s the first thing in my best morning routine). It is a proven way to boost your morning mood and positively impact the emotional trajectory of your day (you can read more about that here). But remember the power of gratitude doesn’t just come from writing, it comes from really feeling how grateful you are. This can feel a little strange at first (for some it can feel almost fake or false) but lean into it and enjoy the process. It may feel like a bit of a struggle at first (that’s normal) but if you’re stuck refer back to the gratitude journal prompts in the next section.
GRATITUDE JOURNAL PROMPTS
To wrap up our power of gratitude blog, we’ll end with some gratitude prompts. These prompts are a great go-to to release the power of gratitude when you feel a little stuck with what to write in your gratitude journal.
20 Gratitude Journal Prompts to Get You Started
· What’s one small thing that made you smile?
· Who are you grateful for in your life and why?
· What activities are you grateful for and why? (e.g. swimming, reading, playing music)
· What did you achieve today?
· What opportunities are you grateful for?
· What do you see other people do in the world that makes you grateful (e.g., campaigning for social change, creating music, sharing their art)
· What in nature makes you feel a sense of awe and gratitude?
· What are you looking forward to today?
· What’s one thing about your health that you feel grateful for?
· What’s one thing you love about your body?
· What have you overcome? What strengths do you feel grateful for?
· What is one thing you appreciate about work?
· What friendships do you value and what makes them special?
· What food do you feel grateful for?
· What do you feel grateful for about where you live?
· What opportunities in life do you feel grateful to have access to?
· Notice what is in the room now – pick one object and write why you’re grateful for it.
· What small things do others do for you that make you happy?
· What qualities or strengths do you admire in yourself?
· What past events do you feel grateful for? How have they shaped you and your future?