An Exercise in Gratitude


Do you tend to focus on and notice the things that go wrong during your day?  Many people find that it is the frustrations, disappointments, and challenges that they face during their daily life that dominate their thoughts.  Especially when we are facing particularly challenging life circumstances, it is easy to feel that there is a pervasive darkness in our life, with few rays of light.

Some people find the following exercise helpful in creating greater balance and finding moments of joy even when things are very difficult.  Those who are not currently feeling distress, may find it helpful in increasing their positive outlook and finding meaning in various places within their lives.

Daily Gratitude:

  1. Each evening before bed, pull out a notebook and a pen.
  2. Add a new item each day to a gratitude list.  This can be difficult at first.  If you do not normally notice these kinds of things in your life, you may feel like you cannot think of anything.  Keep trying.  It can be a brief moment or a major event.  Maybe the sun was out and you were grateful for the warmth on your skin.  Maybe you had a cold drink on a hot day and were grateful for your refrigerator.  Maybe a stranger picked up something you dropped and you were grateful for their kindness.  Maybe you are grateful for chocolate!
  3. Do not repeat any items.  Each night you must come up with something new you are grateful for.  You may have to start looking for these things during your day so that you have something to write down in the evening.
  4. Challenge yourself to see how long you can keep this going!

The aim is to fight back against the part of us that tends to focus on the negative, and to make an effort to notice the positive things in our lives as well.  I want to emphasize the fact that it is normal to pay more attention to what goes wrong than what goes right, and there is nothing wrong with you if this is what you find yourself doing .  I also do not want to ignore the fact that those things that go wrong are important and worthy of your attention.  This exercise is merely about noticing what might otherwise go unnoticed, not ignoring the bad.

Here’s to getting grateful!

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