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5 Tips to Supercharge Your Gratitude List and Infuse Your Life With Joy

When you do these five things, your gratitude journal moves from an activity of the mind to an activity of the heart. This daily practice doesn't just infuse your list with vibrancy and color, it infuses your life.
12/01/2014 12:36pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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Yhank you note on a corkboard

Those of us who have been consciously active in personal development and self-help know that keeping a gratitude list or journal is key to a happy life. We are taught in every book and workshop that we must keep a daily gratitude practice, whether it's writing a list every morning when we wake up, keeping a journal of things we're grateful for or simply counting our blessings in our mind as we drift off to sleep. We are taught that the more we're grateful for, the more we're given.

Like eating right and exercise, keeping a gratitude list has become yet another obligatory staple in our ever-increasing list of things to do to be happy. We know we should do it, so we begrudgingly carve out time in our busy days and rush through it, often listing items as we would a grocery list, with no feeling of gratitude or appreciation whatsoever.

The act of keeping a gratitude list is a waste of time when no authentic feelings of gratitude or joy are elicited from it. It becomes nothing more than what I call a grocery gratitude list and only serves the purpose of satisfying your ego's sense of achievement for finishing yet another task on the spiritual seeker's To-Do list.

The purpose of keeping a gratitude list is to feel good, not to get it done and over with so we can get more stuff to feel good about. It's to feel good now, with what we already have. Shifting our perspective to a more feeling-oriented goal infuses our list -- and more importantly, us -- with vibrant joy, lighthearted playfulness and a deep appreciation for everything we have.

Below are five tips, along with images from my own personal gratitude journal, to help you supercharge your lists and get to the feeling place of gratitude and joy.

1) Add life to your text. Don't be afraid to draw, scribble, use different color pens, glue images and photos, dried flowers, or whatever you want. If you went to a Bruno Mars concert and you had a great time, glue the ticket stub in it and write around it. This is your book, infuse your personality into it. Make it more than just a text book. Turn it into a scrapbook. Unleash your creativity and have fun with it. 2014-11-27-Gratitude_God.jpg

2) Add details. I have a stuffed bunny that I've had for over two decades. Have no idea where I got her, but throughout the years, when I was depressed and lonely, she gave me comfort. When I was happy and fulfilled, she brought more joy out of me. Sounds silly for a grown woman of 43 to sleep with a stuffed bunny, but I love her to death and wouldn't trade her for a million dollars. She often finds her way into my journal and instead of writing "Bunny" and moving on to the next item in the list, I add some details. What do I love about her? What do I love to do with her? The details carry you deeper into the feeling of gratitude and keep you there longer.
2014-11-27-Gratitude_Bunny.jpg

3) Add reasons. Why are you grateful for something? If you've listed your home, write about why you're grateful for it. Does it bring security, comfort, rest? Does it give you electricity, running water, heat? Don't just list the thing you love, list the reasons why you love it. Embellish them. Bask in them.
2014-11-27-Gratitude_Home.jpg

4) Pick something specific. If you are grateful for your partner, instead of listing them for the hundredth time, change it up by picking something specific about them that you love. Do you love the way she looks at you and only you? Does he make you breakfast in bed on Saturdays? Pick something specific that you appreciate and write about it. Sometimes being general is helpful to start the momentum of gratitude ("I love my husband" -- and in this case, you would take it further by adding details or listing the reasons why) but sometimes specificity thrusts you deeper into appreciation and elicits involvement from your physical senses ("I love my husband's smell"), which helps you to quickly and effortlessly click in to the feeling of gratitude, especially when you re-read it months later.
2014-11-27-Gratitude_Smell.jpg

5) Re-read your list often. If you had a bad day and need a quick pick me up, look through your gratitude journal. The details and embellishments you've added will help take you immediately to the feeling of gratitude. They not only serve you in the moment of writing them, they continue to serve you as you re-read them, acting to spark your memory in a way that awakens the emotion in your heart, not just the thoughts in your head.

When you do these five things, your gratitude journal moves from an activity of the mind to an activity of the heart. This daily practice doesn't just infuse your list with vibrancy and color, it infuses your life. You gain a deeper appreciation for all things and while it's true, you will start receiving more things to be grateful for, you will discover that there's no end to the amount of joy and appreciation you can feel, no matter what you have or don't have. The depths of joy and appreciation are endless and your gratitude journal becomes a catalyst to thrust you deeper into your joy.

Tree Franklyn is a writer, doodler and creator of TreeDoodles. Her books and e-courses inspire women to live life fully by living their truth and finding their inner divine happiness. Download her free e-book, The #1 Reason You're Not {Bouncing-off-the-walls, Swinging-from-the-stars, Hopping-in-the-clouds} Happy at www.FindYourInnerHappy.com.