An A to Z gratitude list, or an abc thankful list, might just be a great way for you to sail through the holiday season with more ease. Especially if it seems like the times you would expect to feel the most thankful and grateful are actually the times where stress and anxiety creep in and sabotage joy instead. As we move from one big (American) holiday into the next soon in December, do you feel that the moments of quiet and calm are few and far between? Do you desire more quiet and calm but your things to do have increased and won’t let up for a bit?
One of the ways you can make sure to stay present in these complicated times is to carve out some intentional time, even if brief, to experience feeling grateful. No, this isn’t just another to do item to add to your list; but if you do it right it will help shift your mind-body connection into experiencing the month of December with greater ease and more resilience.
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Because, let’s face it. The holidays can be a stressful time for a lot of people. Even if you have a lot of things going well for you, those curve balls can come in and steal your joy in a moment and disrupt those other areas.
(And, if you stick around to the end, I’ll share a journal that makes this really easy to get into on a daily basis).
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What Does Science Show About the Experience of Gratitude?
It turns out science confirms what our bodies already tell us about the practice of gratitude: it helps and heals us.
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley white wrote a paper for the John Templeton Foundation on the Science of Gratitude in 2018. A downloadable pdf of the gratitude study may be accessed below.
While the study provides a comprehensive deep dive into various studies into the biological origins of altruism, survival and gratitude, as well as developmental and social constructs which may develop with gratitude, there are many individual benefits to a practice of gratitude.
Learning about these will help you dedicate a time to your own a-to-z gratitude list and think of things to be thankful for.
Individual Benefits Associated with a Gratitude Practice
The study includes many positive benefits for you if you start and keep up with a gratitude practice. Here is a list of the benefits:
- A grateful disposition is associated with better health. In one study, patients who felt appreciated experienced more positive heart rates.
- People who exhibit greater levels of gratefulness are more likely to engage in healthy lifestyle practices, seek help when needed, and sleep longer and better. A study of heart patients (patients with cardiovascular difficulties) found that those patients who were more grateful on average than their peers were more likely to have slept better, had less fatigue and less circulating inflammation.
- People who take gratitude into account tend to report depression less often than people who are not as likely to be grateful. One study found that of people with at least two chronic illnesses, those who reported high levels of gratitude also reported less depression.
- A practice of gratitude seems to have the most benefits for those who already have health conditions. Studies have shown that those who start practicing gratitude and have chronic or debilitating health issues show dramatic improvements in sleep duration and quality over those who practice gratitude but are seemingly healthy.
- A grateful disposition is associated with increased happiness levels, life satisfaction and sense of wellbeing.
- Fostering a practice of gratitude will help you be less materialistic, greedy or envious. This comes from fostering a sense of enjoying what you have or have experienced and not being trapped into a “grass is greener” mindset which can turn into negative and divisive emotions.
- A practice of gratitude may help you not feel burnout, or not as quickly. There seems to be a buffer in those who are grateful more often than those who are not.
The duration and frequency of counting your blessings may matter.
It appears in the research that those who counted their blessing over a longer period of time, such as for 6-months, had more positive effects than those who practiced gratitude in the same way for only 2-weeks. Another study found that for some groups, counting blessings less frequently over time, but still doing so, may prevent the novelty from wearing off too quickly while still reaping the benefits of the practice.
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The protective measures of gratitude and random acts of kindness
Those who are grateful may experience a deeper, more resilient mode of living than their less grateful peers.
Some of these benefits may include:
- Not taking things for granted as much (which could result in carelessness, boredom, and restlessness).
- Gratitude practices may broaden and build out one’s creativity, ability to play and see through to the horizons such as in problem solving. This leads to resilience.
- Gratitude helps to cancel out negative emotions.
- Helping people meet their basic psychological needs such as relatedness and autonomy.
Best part? It’s free. Keep reading for the quick guide to get started below.
How to Make an A to Z Gratitude List?
If you’re new to practicing gratitude, like actually setting aside time to feel gratitude, you aren’t alone. But this practice of being grateful from a to z you could call the gratitude ABCs. What are the gratitude ABCs? They are thinking of something very specific you are thankful for that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
For example, what are some things to be thankful for with letter a?
An abc thankful list is a great way to get started with a gratitude practice because it provides such an easy framework to delve into regularly.
Here is a sample a-z thankful list where I’ll add a few ideas for you. The key is to be as specific as you can, allow the memory to wash over you and use the letter to jog your memory.
Choose personal and unique things to be thankful for in your own life.
If you really wanted to be ambitious, you might try and think of 10,000 things to be thankful for over the course of the next 2-3 years. This will help you stay in the present moment and enjoy each delightful or unexpectedly awesome event in your life at the time.
Let’s get started!
A – Apples and nut butter snack
B – Brain food, such as bone broth in the fridge
C – Call on the phone from my S.O.
D – the month of December, even with all the craziness
E – Everyone who reaches out
F – Furry Friends
G – Gingerbread cookies
H – Home, the place and the feeling
I – Inside work -grateful for inside work on a cold day
J – Journaling
K – Kitchen, making food and being in it when clean
L – Leftovers (because, hey, time saving)
M – Mail from friends and family
N – being outside in Nature
O – being at the Ocean
P – Perseverance to push through something challenging
Q – Quiet time in the morning
R – the name of a special person starting with R
S – Seeing the Sunshine
T – seeing Turtles at the park
U – having an Umbrella on a rainy day
V – being someone’s Valentine
W – Warm weather days
X – Xmas
Y – YouTube channels
Z – Zoo
You could do this all at once or you could use it as a place to start as you begin your gratitude list.
Do you want to start a gratitude practice but don’t have time to journal?
You may want to consider this 5-Minute Journal for those who hate to journal but don’t have time. Hundreds of thousands of people have begun to change their life by using this handy and securely bound journal.
It’s a simple way to start a gratitude practice as it includes grateful list segments to help keep you on track everyday.
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Starting an abc thankful list also known as a gratitude list based upon the abcs is a great way to jump start a practice of gratitude. After reading this post, if you made it to the end, you now know some awesome benefits to utilizing a gratitude practice as well as how to get started.
Don’t forget to get in the daily habit for at least 6 months. Use a done-for-you journal like the one above if you have trouble getting started or just have too much else going on.
What are 10 examples of being thankful? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Subscribe, share and like us if we help you out! Take good care!