Why Gratitude Lists Alone Don’t Give You the Results You Were Promised

gratitude journal

Gratitude lists are the thing. Everybody kept telling you…

“Record feeling grateful! Start a gratitude journal and you’ll be happier!”

So, you bought yourself a journal, and every day, you penned down five things you were thankful for. Yes, even on your most busy days, you made time for it. Maybe you even downloaded gratitude journal prompts.

Yet, here you are, feeling exactly the same as you did many months ago.

Where are all these glorious benefits you were promised? Why is your gratefulness practice not working for you?

Well, trust me when I say that it’s not your fault. I’ll explain the real problem with gratitude lists. (And, stick around for the cool bonuses at the end of this post)

Why Gratitude Lists Won’t Give You the Benefits You Were Promised

When I hear people complaining about gratitude lists being ineffective, I’m reminded of the time I was stung by a bee.

See, my friend told me that meat tenderizer was the best treatment for a bee sting. So when I got stung, I ran into the kitchen, grabbed the bottle and poured it on. But it did absolutely nothing.

What my friend had left out was that you need to mix the tenderizer with water to create a paste and only then should you apply it.

In other words, because I didn’t have the right instructions, I wasn’t doing it right.

And the same goes for most people who try writing gratitude lists.

Some aren’t even practicing gratitude. They’re just saying thanks.

Is Thankful Another Word for Grateful?

Being thankful is acknowledging someone’s effort. Thanks are often momentary, such as thanking your hairdresser for a great haircut.

An attitude of gratitude is appreciation for what you have. Maybe you finally earn enough to cover your expenses and then some. You are grateful for this new sense of security.

So when it comes to grateful vs thankful, gratitude is an emotional response to or recognition that events or circumstances made a positive difference in your life. You'll often hear someone say they owe someone a ‘debt of gratitude.'

Your emotional response of gratitude paves your way to those promised benefits in 3 pleasurable steps.

The Simple Secret to Those Glorious Benefits

Writing a list isn’t the point.

Experiencing gratitude in a particular way is your magic elixir.

Experiencing those benefits regularly can change your life.

What Are You Missing Out On With Your Gratitude Journal?

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley Studies reports that practicing gratitude can make you:


more satisfied with your life

less materialistic

less likely to suffer from burnout.

Repeating your experiences of gratitude creates lasting changes in the neural function or structure of your brain. ‘Positive neuroplasticity’ is your brain rewiring to offset its natural negative bias.


Like it or not, your brain changes based on how you use your mind.

So, pay attention to your thoughts to reap those glorious benefits.

The Most Powerful Way to Supercharge Your Results

Here's your super simple gratitude training in three steps:

Step 1

Think of a beneficial experience you’ve had or recognize one as it occurs.

Step 2

Spend a few moments with it, focus on it and let it unfold as it will.

Step 3

Experience it. Simmer in it as you would luxuriate in a warm bath seeping into your pores or snuggled in a cozy blanket as the delicious warmth seeps into you. It's like a prayer of gratitude but very physical.

The process is simple.

Let’s do a little test run.

Step 1

Recall something or someone that you love to bits, without complication and why you are grateful they are or were in your life.


Step 2

Reflect on this person and your physical response. Proverbial warm and fuzzies? A soft smile?

Allow your sensations to ‘simmer’ in you and to linger. Don’t try to hang on to them. That is counterproductive.

Step 3

Experience them!

There you go!

If you didn’t feel anything, don’t fret. This is a practice, and, with everything, practice brings progress.

Are You Ready for a Win/Win?

Worse case scenario, you get an immediate jolt of feel-good juice by experiencing gratitude.

But…. if you don’t object to the idea of a buzz of feel-good several times a day, day in and day out… then you’re in for long and lasting benefits as you physically rewire your brain to a more positive outlook.

You’ll feel happy instead of anxious.

You’ll feel calm instead of stressed.

You’ll savour instead of endure.

And to think. All of this control is in your hands?

So… what do you want to do about it?

Experience your gratitude. Regularly.  Each time you do, you get an immediate shot of feel-good juice.

And, you just helped rewire your brain for lasting benefits.

Improved sense of well-being. Happier. More resilient. A new perspective on life.

What could be better than that?

And just to wrap up, why not boost your mood with these songs about gratitude from Billboard?

15 Songs About Being Thankful & Grateful

And, while we're at it,  did you know there is a World Gratitude day? It's held every September 21st.

Okay, another bonus, how about some top gratitude affirmations from HealingBrave.com?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free Cheat Sheet: How to Make Stress Work FOR you.


Do stress right! Turn self-destructive stress into turbo-charged productivity and boosted resilience and health.