A Gratitude Practice

One of my friends started sharing a daily list of things she was grateful for on Instagram. Honestly, I loved reading her list at the end of the day. The more she did it, the more I realized I was running through my own things to be grateful for and started to share my own lists online.

I can’t remember when I started, but I think it’s been over a month? (The days are blending together!) It has been a fantastic practice and one I hope to continue past the pandemic. There will likely be a day when I decide to take it “offline,” but for now I’ll continue to share on stories.

There is a TON of research on gratitude and why it’s such an amazing thing to practice more of. It’s been found to increase happiness, increase mental and physical health, lower stress, lower materialism, increase empathy, etc.

I’m no scientist, but I thought I’d share some of the ways it’s helped me:

– Throughout the day, I’m taking note of things to “add to my list.” While this seems like I’m mining for content in my daily life, it’s actually making me more in tune with finding things to be grateful for. I’m on the hunt for the good and, as a result, I definitely find more good. And since I’m looking for good, I find myself able to let go of the bad faster. (It’s there, trust me, I don’t want to say I’m immune to feeling anxiety because it’s definitely worse now, but I can sort of get “out” of the bad cycles better, if that makes any sense.)

– I go to bed with gratitude on my mind. My bad thoughts tend to peak at night (of course, right before I’m trying to fall asleep). By doing the gratitude list right before sleeping, I am going to bed with gratitude on my mind. It doesn’t always do the trick, but it definitely helps. I go through my whole day, thinking about what I did taking note of all the good. Even if I had a bad day, I’m still just thinking about the good parts, as small as they may be.

– Speaking of which, the harder the day, the harder it can be to think of things to be grateful for and that’s where I think the real “magic” comes into play. Those are days where I would generally just write the whole thing off as bad, but forcing myself to do this exercise keeps gratitude top of mind. And I can always think of a few things even if at first it seems impossible.

– Sometimes the tiniest things fill me with the most gratitude. This surprises me every time it happens, but sometimes I feel my whole body “glow” with gratitude (if you’ve ever done a meditation picturing liquid sunshine filling your body, that’s the feeling!) over the smallest moments. A funny face one of the dogs made, a hug from Mike, feeling the warmth from the sun on my face.

Incorporating gratitude into your life can happen in many ways, I think the real trick is just deciding to do it and committing to the practice daily, whatever that means for you.

– Keep a journal: The Five Minute Journal is great or you can do a regular paper notebook and make your own layout. Writing it down does seem to increase effectiveness according to research.

– Jot down moments of gratitude in a special note on your phone.

Use an app to track and record your gratitude

– Start your morning with a gratitude meditation or end your day with a mental refresher of what you were grateful for

– Say it out loud! I have found that it’s super contagious and it if I verbally acknowledge being grateful for something, it seems to also make the other person I’m with (which right now is 100% Mike, so admittedly my sample size is quite limited) grateful as well.

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I like the “imagine liquid sunshine” imagery. I’m definitely going to use that. Thank you also to all the moms making the world a better place… kid mom, dog mom, any kind of a mom!


I love this! I *love* Mimi and Alex Ikonn who created this journal, they are such good people!


Hi Carly,
I actually have a reminder on my phone that goes off every night at 9pm that just says “Gratitude” I try not to overthink it and just list 5 things very quickly in my mind that I am thankful for and I try to make them very specific to that particular day. I find that much less challenging than having to write it down or think on it too hard. For some reason, it takes some of the pressure off of the process of using a journal which I tried previously. Thanks for all of the inspiration over the years.


Love this, Carly! One of my girlfriends suggested that we all share one good thing about our day each evening in our ongoing group text. It’s been such a fun way to express gratitude and have a spot check on how everyone else is feeling. There have been a few times where someone has shared that they really couldn’t come up with anything good because of x, y, or z – another friend takes it upon themselves to leave a bottle of wine, cookies, even fresh eggs on the other’s doorstep the next day to perk them up. It’s the best and I hope we continue long after life carries on.


Love this! My dissertation was on gratitude, so I’m completely biased! I like sharing the effects of gratitude with folks and walking them through how simple it can be to cultivate gratitude. UC Berkeley’s (go bears!!) Greater Good Science Center has a lot of great resources for practicing:!

Joanne Amarisa

I know about the Five Minute Journal and although I don’t own one myself, I really look up to the Ikonns for their positive, clear-minded outlook on life in general. Love how you used the word “glow” because that’s exactly what gratefulness feels like!! I like making tiny gratitude lists in my journal too.

Jo | With Risa


Doing The Five Minute Journal has been one of the best habits I’ve ever cultivated for my mental health!!