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Five gratitude busting writing exercises

Updated: Jan 18


I’ve always struggled with, not so much the idea, but the practice of listing things I’m grateful for. Apart from it sounding a bit twee, I just find listing things endlessly doesn’t work for me. Of course I could be doing it wrong which is totally possible as I don’t read instructions properly.


So I created some writing exercises to help me explore the things I’m grateful for in another way, and here they are – and I now expect you to read the instructions, so I’m lazy and a hypocrite.


1. Write about gratitude itself


So this first one is aimed at getting tuned in to what gratitude actually is and more importantly what it means to you.


So the prompt would be: ‘Gratitude (or your chosen word) means…’


If you find ‘gratitude’ a bit cloying for your taste (as do I), or just unrelatable, you’ll probably find the word that works for you by doing this exercise. For example, thankfulness or appreciation. Finding the right word is key because it will be a struggle without it, or at least it is for me – words really can get in the way. For me, writing about things that bring me joy comes much easier.


2. Deep dive


Pick one thing and go deep. If you’re grateful for the sun, go deeper. What is it about the sun? Is it the feel of the warmth on your skin, the rays bursting out from behind clouds, the light that shines on the leaves in the trees and sparkles on the water, the way your body feels when energised by it. Really get stuck in and use all your senses.


3. Love letter


Another way to really get into a deep dive is to write a love letter to your chosen thing you feel thankful for.


The prompt is: ‘Dear (thing you’re thankful for), I love you because…’


If you’re up for trying something new, get the thing to write back to you. What does it want you to know?


This return prompt would be: ‘Thanks [your name] for the letter…’


4. Not grateful


If you’re struggling to think of things you’re feeling grateful for, try a list of things you’re not grateful for which will guide you much more easily to what you really do appreciate. Really get stuck into this list and keep going for as long as you can. Don’t worry about repeating or going off topic (as with all exercises), just keep writing.


5. ‘I can’t live (if living is without you) without…’


Another reason it can be hard to think of things to appreciate is because they’re just part of everyday life, like air and smiling. Use this prompt: ‘I can’t live without…’ and just write freely in response. It’s likely things will come that you are surely grateful for.


For all these exercises, I recommend setting a five minute timer and then commit to keep writing. Don’t edit or think too much, just see where your pen takes you, even if you end up writing about something else. Whatever you write will likely be relevant and useful and besides, no-ones looking so just go for it. Have fun, enjoy!


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Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

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