Create a gratitude list for the past year

gratitude, give thanks, be grateful

It is a new year and a new decade. Being in the year 2020 brings with it hope and optimism for some. For others, it is sadness, dread, and hopelessness. Even achievers who tend to set their goals and start taking action go through a multitude of feelings at a year’s end, some years better than others.

Regardless, we are all on a journey and at different points of our journey, we meet people who have supported us in some form. So, at the beginning of this new year and decade, I would like for us to pause and be thankful for all those people and things that helped us on our journey.

Pause, reflect and be grateful for all we have had the past year and decade because an attitude of gratitude will set you up for success in the next year.

Benefits of gratitude

You may be tempted to ignore this idea of giving thanks and being grateful but the health and productivity benefits of being grateful is supported by too much research to ignore.

In a long-term research project, Professors Robert A. Emmons, University of California, and Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami found that “Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.”

So, pull out a pen and paper and start noting what you have had to be grateful for in the past year and decade.

If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions on what to be grateful for.

Be thankful for people who supported you

While action and progress are mostly their responsibility, achievers still use all the support they can get. Each human being is not an isolated island. Instead, we are all connected in some way. Regardless of any hurt feelings in the past year, I am sure you have at least one person to thank, maybe just for their kind words.

So think of the persons who helped you in your personal life, work, career, business, hobbies, spiritual journey, and various social tribes. Note what they did or say to you that helped you in some way. Then, either call that person and thank them or write a short letter.

One benefit of reflecting on who helped you is that you get to first focus on the good of the past year. Also, you will know who you can leverage in the next year to support your new goals and you set yourself up to focus on the good of the new year.

Be grateful for taking action and for all the things you used to support your journey

Be grateful for the steps you took towards your goals. Acknowledge you wanted the goals and took action to get to those goals.

Be grateful for all that you have that allowed you to achieve goals or to make progress in getting there.

Being grateful can help in deciding how to maintain those things that supported you.

When I did this part of the activity, I realized that I needed to take better care of myself and my things.

For example, some of the things that I am grateful for are my brain for thinking and writing, my two hands which I use to write and type, my body for supporting my daily life endeavors.

To take action each day I need my mind and body. When I say I am grateful for my brain for thinking and writing I also remember why I need to take care of my body so that it continues to serve me well.

I am also grateful for my apartment. I can occasionally work from home. All things are working and I am thankful for my landlord and landlady who are decent and respectful people.

I am grateful for my desktop and laptop from where I write. These continue to serve me well. I should look at cleaning them, getting rid of desktop clutter and maybe updating their memory capacities.

Read over your gratitude list

When you are done with writing down the things you are grateful, read over your gratitude list. Recognize that you had everything you needed, at least, in the moment you had them. Feel a bit of joy and contentment.

Keep this list close. Your journey continues. When you meet an obstacle and you get frustrated, read the list. You have a lot to be grateful for.

Feeling grateful for something you have had already will displace the negative emotion you were feeling. Then, go find a way to solve your problem.

You can take this gratitude activity one step further. All you need is a small notebook and a pen. Every morning or night, note three things that you are grateful for every day. According to Tal Ben Shahar,

When you appreciate everything you have, what you have appreciates.

A daily gratitude practice helps you to focus on the good things even when your situation seems dim. The small expression of gratitude shines a beam on your life. When you practice gratitude’s daily, you are able to do so when you need it most. Your feelings and spirit improves and you find a way to get going again.
Photo by My Life Journal on Unsplash

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