Our dog Buddy has been with us now for over ten years. Yet every morning when we come down the stairs, he greets us like he hasn’t seen us for so long. He’s so happy, his tail is wagging, and its contagious – you can’t help but want to pat him and say hello with as much enthusiasm as he has rewarded you with… just for coming down the stairs. And while I’m probably bringing more meaning into it than necessary, Buddy’s morning reaction and how it positively impacts the whole household, is how I think gratitude works for us as humans.

I’ve been reading a lot about gratitude lately as part of my Master Degree in Applied Positive Psychology.

What we know from a range of research studies is that gratitude is a powerful and positive influencer on our overall sense of well-being. And when our overall sense of well-being is positively increased, what we know from science is that we become healthier, live longer, have better relationships, are more resilient, and benefit from a range of other outcomes.

The reality is though, it’s so easy to accept simple ideas, but not so easy to take intentional action on them to help you live a more happy, flourishing and prosperous life.

I certainly get the idea of gratitude, and I do humbly believe that I am a grateful person. I’m blessed in so many wonderful ways of which I am truly grateful. And I do believe that because I am truly grateful in so many ways, that I’m experiencing the benefits of that to my overall sense of well-being… especially when it comes to my close relationships (of which I am also very grateful).

I started my own ‘gratitude journal’ some time ago now, but I have to admit, it’s easy to leave it on the shelf.

And yet, every time I do write something in my journal, there’s a combination of both physical and emotional responses that’s hard to explain, other than to say it puts a smile on my face and warms the heart.

I know, it all sounds a bit soft and gushy, but the reality is, even though I’m very aware of my personal gratitude for the what and who in my life, when I write things down in the journal, it has a more positive and lasting effect than if I just think gratefully about something.

To make it easier for me I set up an intentional default that Sunday morning is my morning for reviewing my week and writing something in my gratitude journal… then I make wholemeal ricotta pancakes for breakfast (now that’s something to be grateful for).

Here are the topic prompts I use each Sunday…

  • This week in my thoughts I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my feelings I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my physical well-being I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my family relationships I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my social relationships I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my work role I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my work relationships I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my finances I’m grateful for…
  • This week in what I already have acquired I’m grateful for…
  • This week in what I’m taking action to acquire I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my past I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my present I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my future I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my world I’m grateful for…
  • This week in my life in general I’m grateful for…

If you think it all sounds like a bit of psycho-babble that might work for others, and that you don’t really need to give it a go… you’re probably right.

But what if?

It’s amazing how being consciously and intentionally grateful for one thing can quickly get you focused on other good things in your life for which you either already are, or perhaps ought to be grateful for.

In fact, that’s how I’m now describing what a happy, flourishing and prosperous life means to me. It’s about being intentionally grateful for the past and what it’s taught me; being intentionally grateful for the present and what it’s teaching me; and being intentionally open to the future and pursuing personally meaningful lifestyle experiences that enhance my health, mind, relationships, spirit, sense of self and overall well-being.

Gratitude! It’s a habit worth forming.