The Gratitude ABCs

The benefits of integrating gratitude into your day-to-day life seem endless. Gratitude promotes happiness, enhances relationships, counteracts depression, boosts self-esteem, and increases dopamine and serotonin, which lifts your spirits instantly. In time, you will be able to cultivate gratitude naturally, which will create new neural pathways. Through these pathways, you will further improve your self-esteem and self-confidence. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let's get started!

First, we suggest creating your own A-Z Gratitude List(s). This simple activity for practicing gratitude every day will allow you to visualize all of the things you are thankful for. Begin by writing down the alphabet, and then write down the things you are grateful for that begins with each letter. In your first list, feel free to jot down whatever comes to mind. As you continue making these, you can think about the material and nonmaterial aspects of your life that bring you a sense of gratitude.

We have created our own A-Z Gratitude List for you to use as inspiration or as a resource when creating your own. So, if you're feeling stuck – don't worry! Break down the task as needed. For example, complete 3-5 items per letter, or use 3-5 different letters daily.

  1. Air, animals
  2. Best friends
  3. Cats
  4. Dogs
  5. Exploration, education
  6. Family, friends
  7. Games
  8. Happiness, hugs, health
  9. Illustrations, Internet
  10. Jokes, journaling, joy
  11. Kids, kindness, kittens
  12. Love, laughter, life
  13. Movies, music, meditation
  14. Nature, naps
  15. Ocean, old friends
  16. Parks, pancakes, photos
  17. Quality time, questions
  18. Rain, rest, a roof over your head
  19. Sunshine, showers
  20. Tea, travel, texting
  21. University, universe
  22. Vacations
  23. Walks, water, windows
  24. X-rays
  25. Yellow, yourself
  26. Zippers, zodiac signs

Make it Creative

Secondly, we should think of fun and creative ways to show gratitude. Let's flip the traditional journal prompt for gratitude upside down! It would help if you constantly change your routine to keep it interesting. Furthermore, if this exercise becomes monotonous, you may stop doing it altogether. Using these ideas as a springboard to express yourself unleash your creativity!

  • Pick a letter each day at random
  • Let's play a game; how many letters can you get through in two minutes?
  • Decorate your gratitude box or jar however you want. Write down the 3-5 reasons you're grateful today (sometimes, it's fun to write only things that made you feel grateful today or limit yourself to one letter as an extra challenge)
  • Make groups of four or five letters out of the alphabet. Organizing the letters alphabetically is unnecessary; you need to group them. Assign a theme to each group and ask yourself: How can I express my gratitude to others? In what ways can others treat me in a way that makes me feel appreciated? Who has positively influenced my life or the community I live in throughout history?

How to Document Your List

There is no wrong way to make a gratitude list. However, we advise making it something physical and tangible rather than keeping it in your head or mentally completing your list. Your experiences today will likely fade into memory and not last long. It is helpful to write and store your positive experiences, people, or things in your life to continue to recall them in the future.

  • You can make a list in a journal, notepad, or smartphone app (though you might want to skip this suggestion if you are easily distracted by notifications - no judgment here, we all have them!)
  • Use gratitude-themed smartphone apps (see above about distractions, though!)
  • Stick notes on your fridge, set your alarm every morning, schedule it on your calendar, and don't forget to do it every day
  • Keep a pen, notebook, or journal in areas where you tend to wind down. This way, you can add to your list when you are relaxing and walking through your day

Top tip: Don't intimidate yourself by setting aside significant amounts of time; at the most, try 10 minutes.

How to Incorporate Gratitude Creatively into Your Life

Practicing gratitude at least 2-3 times per week is a reasonable way to start incorporating it into your life. Eventually, you may feel confident enough to start doing it daily. Over time you will see a significant improvement in your well-being and relationships with people around you. Not only will you benefit in the present, but you will also build a solid foundation for your future. Gratitude also helps you become more appreciative, positive, and optimistic. When we appreciate and acknowledge each other, we feel better, smile more, and inspire others to do the same.

When incorporating gratitude into your thought process, remember that this is challenging and will take work. However, it gets easier and easier the more you practice until, finally, you're accustomed to it and do it naturally. The following exercises are ways to incorporate gratitude into your life beyond journaling.

  • Take the time to perform a kind act every day
  • Encourage your friends and family with daily affirmations
  • Identify one thing each day that you are looking forward to
  • Take a moment each day to reflect on what you are grateful for
  • Remember to appreciate the things you usually take for granted
  • Make someone's life better by giving them a book you've found profoundly transformative
  • Walk through life with your five senses, fully engage in the present, and experience life fully

We can show appreciation in many ways, from watching the clouds pass by to writing handwritten thank-you notes, preparing a favorite meal for someone, or even filling out a journal prompt for gratitude. Upon reviewing your list, you may notice some tricky letters. We had trouble finding something that started with Z, for example. At first glance, zippers may seem like a silly item to put on a gratitude list. However, not only are zippers integral to everyday life, but they also help make life easier and more convenient compared to life without them. There's no point in ignoring the importance of everything, from every person to every letter. Be kind and understanding if you cannot think of an item or a personal connection to a letter. Instead, consider what you use daily, who you see, and the hardships that would arise if you didn't have them. Once you start looking for gratitude everywhere, you will see that the possibilities are endless in ways you can incorporate them into your life.

Pure Health Center would be delighted to speak with you if you think you could benefit from counseling or are curious and need more information. If you seek more ways to express gratitude in your life, or if you feel stuck at any time during the process, this is your opportunity! When you work with a therapist, you can gain peace of mind and overcome many obstacles. By doing so, you will be able to focus on your life's positive aspects and how much to be thankful for.

We also now offer individual counseling in three locations in and around Chicago (as well as online), and we are looking forward to meeting you. If you have been putting off counseling or have not been able to take advantage of our services in the past, please do not hesitate to contact us today. You can also schedule an appointment online.

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