Why You Shouldn't Do Gratitude Lists

Let me tell you why focusing on gratitude matters, and also why I DON’T do traditional gratitude lists, and what you can do instead. 

Ok, why gratitude matters: 

Talk about gratitude gets tossed around in touchy-feely, artsy-fartsy ways, but science tells us not to underestimate its importance. In 2011, UC Berkeley launched a 5.6 million dollar project about the science of gratitude. 

 

Here's what we know about gratitude: 

  • It’s one of the most reliable methods for increasing happiness. 

  • It makes us more resilient. 

  • It’s good for our health, contributing to better sleep, a stronger immune system, and reduces symptoms of illness. 

 

Why I don’t do gratitude lists: 

You've probably read or heard that a great way to cultivate gratitude is to write a daily gratitude list where you write down 5 or so things that you're grateful for. 

The problem with this is that it lets you off the hook. "I'm grateful for my family, my house, that I'm healthy..." Well, sure you are. But these are stock answers that you know you should be grateful for. You don’t have to think about them. It’s a really passive exercise, and if you've ever started and quickly abandoned this practice, that's probably why. 

 

What to do instead:

Keep a daily journal of exquisite moments

What’s an exquisite moment?

Exquisite moments are small, and precious, and fleeting. They are truly *moments*, not events. 

Lunch with your sister is no an exquisite moment. 
When you both heard a song from your childhood on the radio at the same time and smiled at each other? That's an exquisite moment. 

There may be many in your day, but I’m asking you to pick one at the end of your day. That means you'll be looking for them all day long, and then choosing one at the end of the day as your favorite. That's an active, effective, fun gratitude practice. 

Looking for exquisite moments brings a profound level of awareness, wakefulness, and yes, gratitude to your day.