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  • Ken Clark

Building Your Gratitude List: Who to Thank Next In Three Easy Steps


Nearly everyone that hears a motivational speaker talk about gratitude or reads a great article about the value of saying “thank you” thinks it’s a great idea. In fact, in all my years of talking about it with my clients in therapy or my team as a CEO, I’ve never had someone shoot down the idea. Everyone loves the idea of being more focused on gratitude than fear.

Ironically though, the vast majority of them never get around to consistently thanking the people that have made a difference in their lives. They might do it once or twice right after they hear the message, but then it somehow slips through the cracks as a discipline. Or they might become better at it, saying all the things that need to be said when a birthday, wedding or funeral rolls around, but they still struggle to have it become part of the little moments that make up most of our lives.

The answer is simple. We all need to begin developing our gratitude lists of the people we need to thank. Gratitude, like any journey, is easier when there’s a map or a checklist. If you truly want gratitude to be part of your daily, weekly or monthly routine, you can lighten the burden and increase your consistency by dedicating a place to jot down the ideas when they come.

Gratitude Lists: Building On Your Existing Note Taking Habits

We all have some place that we keep track of the tasks and errands we need to complete. Some people put a sticky note on the computer monitor. Other people use the notepad in their smartphone or a spreadsheet on their computer. Others rely on the old school pad of paper to cross items off their to-do list.

Whatever it is you use to keep track of life’s tasks, we at the Thanks A Billion Project simply want you to add a section for the thank you’s that need to be shared. If you use a fancy journal, then you just need to title a page, “My Gratitude List.” If you use sticky notes, just stick another one with the label, “People to Thank.” Whatever already works well for you to remember life’s other, far less important tasks, will work for this too.

Then, as you go through your week and notice little moments that made you thankful, you stick them on the gratitude list with a short description. It might be something as simple as “Mom for helping with kids” or “Jim for the referral.” It might be a group of people that you know you need to take the time to be more thankful for like “my son’s teachers” or “first responders.”

Filling Your Gratitude List By Reviewing Your Week

For some of you, filling your gratitude list may come easily and naturally. There may be a million people you know you need to thank and you’re going to need a second piece of paper to keep track of them all.

But for many of us, life seems to move so fast that we forget who to thank between the time where something good happens and when we have time to write it down. It gets lost in the shuffle just like picking up the dry cleaning or taking the recycle bin to the curb. That’s why, for me, a deliberate review of my week is one of the easiest ways to build my gratitude list.

Here’s how it works. Once a week, as well as when I need to override my fear and anxiety with gratitude, I start by picking up my phone and review the last week’s text messages and call records. These are an absolute treasure trove of ideas on who to thank.

As I go through my text messages, I’ll find people who helped me out. I’ll see people who checked in on me, took the time to hang out with me or tried to make me laugh. I’ll see evidence of friendship, love and most importantly, my own value to other human beings. Those people, especially if their contributions to my life were small and subtle (because being thanked for the little things has a way of making people feel incredibly special), are the ones that should go on my gratitude list. If I didn’t find enough people to thank or want to be really thorough, I can do the exact same thing with my email inbox and my calendar.

The Thanks A Billion Project Will Help Fill Your List

One of the main reasons that the Thanks A Billion Project was created was to give you another way of filling up your gratitude list. We want to help take the burden off of you and make it easier to identify people in your world who would benefit from some appreciation. We send out regular prompts and ideas of who to thank and how to thank them.

There’s no cost. It’s just our way of helping you refocus your mind on the positive and part of our plan to create the exponential wave of gratitude our world so desperately needs. All you need to do is complete the simple email sign up form located on this page, subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here and follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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