If you’re looking for an easy way to practice daily gratitude, making a list of things that you like can really shine a light on appreciation. My latest book, Go Ahead & Like It, describes this listing process as a method of building self-esteem, a way to create awareness, and a form of praise for the smallest details that make up the significant aspects of our lives. I write lists of things that I like nearly once a week. Often, it’s just an act of celebration, an expression of delight, and in other moments the lists can repair a bad mood or remind me to be thankful. Is it hard to think of at least five things that you like? Or is the difficult commitment simply making the list itself? I often ask people to sit down at the typewriter and make a list on the spot. I’ve handed them colored sheets of paper and pencils so that they can try it out. At first, almost everyone hesitates. There’ll be the rare writer in the room who immediately fills the page, but for most people it’s a challenge. Don’t worry about momentary writer’s block—I have few tips to help the flow of likeability pour onto the page a bit faster. The first thing I like to do when making a list of likes is to look at my surroundings. Is there a shadow carving out a beautiful shape on the wall? Is there a pretty bird perched on my windowsill? What did I eat for breakfast? Was it particularly good? Is my cat doing something that I enjoy? Often it’s the simple things that move me the most: The shadow is so unique and momentary. The bird is so still; She seems like a secret I get to witness. My breakfast was delicious not only because it tasted good, but also because it included homemade biscuits that my neighbor baked for me. My cat is a tiny creature that I take care of and his personality is comforting and funny. It all adds up. When I focus on these things by writing them down, or even just listing them in my mind, I feel a sense of thankfulness for my life as a mixture of all these valuable details that might appear mundane upon first glance. If nothing moves you when you look around, try engaging your other senses. What can I feel that I like? What can I hear? What can I taste? What can I smell? I feel the soft wool of the socks I’m wearing. I see the bird. I hear the train blowing its horn. I taste the biscuits. I smell the jasmine in bloom. This sensory exercise can bring me into full awareness. Suddenly I feel saturated with joy and tapped into everything that I like about the world on a very base level. Many times my lists fill up with memories. I think back on my childhood and find some vision that makes me smile. I let my mind wander into the past and recall images that I enjoy, likeable moments that I’d forgotten about, and as I let myself slip into this kind of reverie so many sweet aspects of the past come to the surface. For example, I like:
- My childhood dogs (all 20 of them).
- The garden that I planted in the dashboard of my first car.
- The photo of my father from his first trip to Paris when he was in college.
- That the last meal my grandma and I shared was mushroom and barely soup.
- How my grandma always gave me a slice of pumpernickel bread covered in chunks of butter as a snack.