How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude Year-Round

Why do we save all our thanks for Thanksgiving?

Goal Setting Makes Mojo Happy

By Coach Mojo

One day a year isn't enough

Picture this: it’s Thanksgiving and despite being 35 and fully employed, you’re sitting at the kids’ table again. But then, over the Macy’s Day Parade rerun, you hear Aunt Lydia repeatedly steering the conversation toward politics and voices rising. Suddenly, your seat doesn’t seem so bad. Sure, your knees hit the table, and Tommy can’t keep his mashed potatoes to himself, but the adults don’t have chicken fingers: you know, you’ve checked.

Then, you hear it: “Let’s all go around and say something we’re grateful for.”

Why Do We Share Gratitude on Thanksgiving?

Going around the room sharing gratitude is a longstanding tradition in many homes on this one day. Gathering with family with the specific intention to give thanks can be very powerful — no matter what people decide to share!

In our home, Aunt Lydia is thankful for her new wine membership, Uncle Reggy is thankful for Aunt Lydia’s new wine membership, and Little Tommy is thankful for any food that can be thrown farther than a few feet. And while it all sounds small, the world smiles a little bigger when we think of what we’re grateful for.

Today, you’re just thankful for chicken fingers.

There’s normally only one calendar day a year set aside for us to sit around in our Sunday best, chronicling what we’re thankful for, but why not make this part of our everyday life? The journaling, that is, not the white lace dress in your living room.

What is a Gratitude Journal?

Gratitude journaling is a great tool to help you remember yesterday’s reasons to smile long after Thanksgiving day. The first sip of an iced coffee with the perfect amount of caramel drizzle, or giving a really good high five are moments that are easy to forget, but lovely to look back on.

What's the science, and what are the Benefits?

Taking stock of what we’re grateful for is proven to help regulate blood pressure, reduce stress reactivity, and help you sleep better — three things that cannot be said about spending time with Aunt Lydia.

A gratitude journal is of the most well-studied and effective gratitude interventions. It’s also one of the easiest — showing results in about 90 seconds per day. A gratitude journal helps you focus on positive, rather than negative experiences and thoughts, can help you sleep better (especially if you do it before bed), and can ease feelings of anxiety or stress, leading to increased happiness.

Those who write down moments of gratitude are willing to work harder for long-term goals, save money, and exercise more. So think of your gratitude deposit as an investment in future you’s happiness.

In essence, a gratitude journal can teach you to flex a positive emotion each day, making each day a celebration, and bringing a deep sense of personal happiness. This strengthens our overall optimism, kindness, generosity, and the ease with which we see goodness in the world. 

What Should I Write About?

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
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You’re not going to get a big promotion every day, so think small. Some days you’ll be grateful for seeing an old friend, a cute dog, or having a particularly strong belly laugh. Others you might be grateful for family, a good cup of coffee or the end of a tough week— but every day, you can be grateful for something.

Don’t be too discerning. Write down any special person you encountered or emotion you felt, any event you experienced or thought you had. There’s no wrong way to acknowledge the moments that made that day uniquely yours, leading to increased happiness.

We help you get started with 50 unique prompts here. Choose a different category each day!

Sounds Good — what are some tips to make it a habit?

Gratitude Prompt Help
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To start, take a moment to reflect. How did you wake up, who did you see, who might you see, how is the weather? More often than not there is beauty in the basics. Then write down five things that made you feel grateful. It’s really that easy. Try to stay consistent and do it with intention. Like most things, in gratitude journaling, you get what you give.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Be specific. A shorter list full of details is more beneficial than a long bulleted scroll. We suggest you start with five to help get the ball rolling, but studies find that the most effective gratitude journaling is the one that gives details, not lists. For example, we can say, “I’m grateful for mashed potatoes” or “I’m thankful for mashed potatoes sticky enough to keep the gravy from falling out of the mashed potato volcano I built.”
  • Nothing is off-limits. Your sweater smelling like lavender, your loans being paid off and the existence of Lauryn Hill all hold equal weight in a gratitude journal. Write what’s true to you.
  • You are your target audience. Your writings don’t have to be the beginnings of the next great American novel. Write nonsense, misspell a word, draw a picture of a pretty hat you saw. No one but you ever needs to see it. Each run-on sentence and cliche thought is there solely for you and your benefit.
  • Do this at the same time every day. That helps to build it as a habit.

 

For a few minutes every day, on the bus, at your desk, or on your notes app, take a moment to look back — and you’ll be surprised how gratitude will move you forward.

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