Every morning I find the time to write a gratitude list. It only takes a few minutes to brainstorm 5-10 things I’m really grateful for in my life, but it makes the world of difference to how I am for the rest of the day. I’m calmer, more patient, more relaxed and definitely a better and more present Mum. Check out my post on why a morning gratitude list is the best thing you can do all day.
Why would you write a gratitude list?
At first thought you might think it’s just another time-wasting exercise. Yet another thing to add to your already huge To Do list. That’s if you even remember doing it at all, as I know you’ve got lots of other things to remember too.
I used to think like this until I gave it a go for myself.
Now I realise that five minutes spent writing my list first thing in morning, before the rest of the house wakes up, with my first cup of tea of the day next to me, is probably one of the best things I do to set myself up for the day.
What are the benefits?
- It’s difficult to have a bad day – I soon found that it was really difficult to have a bad day when I’d started that day off writing how lucky I was! Whenever I could feel myself getting grumpy, frustrated, upset, worried, overwhelmed, annoyed or just plain worn out (or any of the other negative emotions us busy Mums come across during a typical, average day), I called it out for what it was and put it in perspective.
- Emotions are a temporary state – Yes, I might temporarily be feeling one or more of these emotions, but I knew it was temporary. It was just a natural human reaction to whatever was going on around me at that moment in time. It didn’t necessarily mean that my whole life was crashing down around me and it was all a disaster.
- Keeping perspective – I could think back to my list and what I’d written that day, or the rest of the week, and focus on all the reasons that I had to be grateful. This would keep me going, perk me up, shift my bad thoughts to good ones and generally lift my spirits. All because of the five minutes I’d spent first thing that day making my little list. What a powerful and positive way to spend five minutes!
- My family benefits too – Better still, it’s not only me that benefits, but my family does too. I’m much calmer, more patient, happier, relaxed and definitely a better Mum when I’ve done my five minute gratitude list. It’s worth me doing it for that reason alone.
- Helps me prioritise – My list also helps me remember what’s most important to me and therefore what and where I should focus my time and energy throughout the day. If you’re really grateful for something then you should make it a priority and spend time nurturing it.
- Identifying common themes and patterns – After a while, I’d accumulated many gratitude lists and sometimes I look back over them. Often there are common themes or things that crop up regularly for which I’ve been grateful. Sometimes you can use these lists to see if there’s anything that you could incorporate into your daily life because you’re obviously really grateful when you’ve done them!
Examples of things I include in my day because I’m always really grateful when I’ve done them
- Taking a walk in our local woods once a day (with or without the kids) so I can get back to nature, listen to the birds sing, and breathe in some fresh air
- Have a bit of me-time each day – to read a book, or enjoy a cup of tea whilst doing nothing
- Spending time chatting with my kids, asking them how they day was and listening to the funny stories they tell me of what happened!
- Trying to eat healthy or cut out crisps (I love crisps!) because I know it’s better for me
- Catching myself before I yell at the kids (something I’m always working on especially when the kids aren’t listening to me) and trying to remain calm at all times!
Making it part of your morning routine
I’ve talked before about the benefits of establishing a really good morning routine to set you up for the day. You can read my post on how setting up a morning routine saved my sanity over here.
For those of you that have already gotten into the habit of waking up a little bit earlier to get a head-start on your day, then maybe you could incorporate a gratitude list into your morning routine, if you haven’t done so already?
If mornings are still a struggle, then don’t completely give up on the idea of a morning gratitude list!
Do you check your phone when you first wake up? Do you scroll through your emails or check out your social media feeds?
Why not substitute time spent looking at other people’s perfect Instagram lives and focus on making your own life better instead?
Five minutes each morning will become the best thing you can do to make the rest of your day shine brightly.
Try it out and see what a difference it can make. I’ll show you how…
What is a gratitude list?
- A gratitude list is nothing fancy and is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a list of things that you’re really grateful for in your life.
- You don’t need to write a lot of words. It doesn’t need to be in long, carefully constructed sentences and nobody needs to be able to read it, so it doesn’t matter if it’s in squiggly handwriting in bright pink marker pen!
- Preferably you should have a little notebook that you use specifically for your gratitude list. Buy yourself a notebook that suits your style and personality and that you’ll enjoy writing nice things in! Writing lists on scraps of paper isn’t ideal because you’re more likely to lose them. It’s also difficult to keep them all together in some kind of order so you can refer back to them if you ever felt like it.
- Keep it safe and near to hand so you can get to it easily first thing in the morning. You don’t want to be put off from doing it just because you can’t find the notebook easily.
How to write your gratitude list
- Keep your sentences as brief, or as long, as you like – there are no constraints about how grateful you feel!
- Bullet point the list so you can easily see the different things you’re grateful for. This way they won’t get lost in a whole load of long sentences and you’re less likely to wander off topic and ramble. Stay focussed!
- When you first start your list, you’ll probably be writing broad topics of things such as being grateful for your kids, your partner, your family, your home etc.
- Gradually become more detailed. When you’ve been writing your gratitude list for some time, you’ll notice that things you’re grateful for become more detailed. Not only will you be searching for more things to be grateful for (instead of repeating yourself day in, day out) but you’ll also be more generally aware of things to be grateful for as you’ll be thinking about it during each day. You’ll be keeping a look out for what you can write on tomorrow’s list!
- Don’t get too caught up on what you feel you should or shouldn’t include. There’s no right or wrong here and no-one is going to judge you for what you’ve included (or excluded, for that matter).
- Write each bullet point of gratitude as it pops into your head. Don’t spend ages trying to describe it on paper with long, complicated words. As long as you know what you’re talking about and will be able to understand and remember what you’ve written when you look back on it at any time, then that’s all that’s needed.
For those days when you can’t think of anything
It’s important to acknowledge that some days will be easier than others. It might be that your creative juices are flowing easier or you’ve had a really good day the day before and you’re buzzing.
However, some days you might feel a bit more down and struggle to come up with a full list. Maybe things just haven’t been going right, or you’ve had a set-back, or a particularly difficult or traumatic time recently. That’s perfectly ok and we all have times when we feel the world is against us and that everything is just going wrong.
Yet, even in these difficult seasons of life, you must be able to think of something to be grateful for, however small.
Write it down, make a note at the bottom of your list of anything that’s going on for you right now to explain why your list isn’t very long (just in case you come back to look at it sometime in the future).
A gratitude list sounds complicated and just one more thing that we should be doing but don’t really feel like doing.
But it’s so much more than this and really one of the best (and simplest) things you can do to help you have a better day, no matter what’s going on around you.
If you find that it’s too difficult for you to make a gratitude list on most days of the week and that it’s been this way for a while, you may need some extra support and guidance. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you feel you need it. There’s no shame in this and there’s loads of support out there, in different shapes and forms, to help you see light and positivity where you thought there wasn’t any before.
YOUR NEXT STEPS…
Here are links to some of my other posts on self care and looking after yourself which might help you out too!