thanksgivingGratitude, I’m sad to say, is not part of most people’s natural disposition.

I understand. It’s hard to be thankful when all around us is hurt and pain and disappointment.

Gratitude doesn’t make sense, but it’s a discipline needed to remind ourselves of the many reasons we have to be grateful, which in turn will push off negativity.

Being grateful is a choice. If you’ve lived most of your life NOT focusing on gratitude, it’s not so simple to change that perspective.

Developing an attitude of gratitude can take time and effort. One way to begin that change is to write a daily gratitude list.

It’s hard at first, especially on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, but over time a daily gratitude list can give you an attitude adjustment.

Where to start? How to start? What to put on your list? Here are some suggestions:

Grab a pencil or pen, some paper, and write out a list of things you’re thankful for. The kinesthetic experience of actually writing is valuable for two reasons:

  1. The physical act imprints a feeling of gratitude at the cellular level.
  2. Writing by hand is a slow process and provides more time for contemplation.

Chose a realistic number of things to list. Begin with two or three at first and work your way up to whatever number makes you feel comfortable.

Identify things around you to put on your list. Chose simple things like you woke up. Your house. The sunrise/sunset. There is so much to be thankful for, if we only have eyes to see.

Fake it, if necessary, until the habit is established. You may not actually feel grateful for anything at first, pretend. Before long you’ll discover gratitude is all around. Next, you’ll learn gratitude grows the more you use it.

If writing a gratitude list isn’t for you, try grateful beads. That’s what I use.grateful-beads

Grateful beads are a string of the ten beads that serve as a guide to being thankful. Three beads for three people who touch your life. Six beads for six things, events, and occurrences and the final bead to remind you to give thanks to your creator.

And in case you were wondering, this is my grateful bead list for today:

Like-minded friends and encouragers: Jody and Millie

My husband, who is my biggest fan and strongest supporter

Good health

Living in the forest where I can enjoy nature

Being able to share stories with readers

Readers who write to tell me how much they enjoy my stories

Old church hymns

Last, and most important, Grace — God’s love that cannot be explained (only surrendered to)

Here’s my challenge for you: Whether you use a gratitude list or grateful beads, find some time today, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, to be grateful.

What would be on your gratitude list? Share in the comments.