Gratitude Awakenings: The Top Ten

Trish Henrie is a therapist and teaches psychology classes at the University of Utah and she reveals some of his top 10 list.

1. Gratitude Journal (Emmons 189)

2. Remember the Bad (I use Unhappiest Life Events) “… to be grateful in our current union, it is helpful to remember just how awful a previous marriage was… our minds think in terms of counterfactuals–mental comparisons we make between the way things are and how things might have been different. At times these counterfactuals may be counterproductive to our mental well-being, as we lament opportunities lost or regrets over what might have been. But we can harness the power of counterfactual thinking by reminding ourselves of how much worse life might be than it is” (Emmons 192).

3. As Yourself Three Questions (“practiced daily for 20 minutes in the evening”)
“… a Buddhist meditation technique known as Naikan. Naikan … [means looking inside]… become introspective, and ‘see oneself with the mind’s eye.’ The practice involves reflecting on three questions:

What have I received from _____________________________?

What have I given to _____________________________?

What troubles and difficulty have I caused _____________________________?”
(Emmons 192-193)

4. Learn Prayers of Gratitude (Emmons 194)


“We thank Great Spirit for the resources that made this food possible;
we thank the Earth Mother for producing it,
and we thank all those who labored to bring it to us.
May the Wholesomeness of the food before us,
bring out the Wholeness of the Spirit within us.”

5. Come to Your Senses (Emmons 197)

Luskin’s Breathing Exercise called the “Breath of Thanks”

“1. Two or three times every day when you are not fully occupied, slow down and bring your attention to your breathing.

2. Notice how your breath flows in and out without your having to do anything… continue breathing this way.

3. For each of the next five to eight exhalations, say the words ‘thank you’ silently to remind yourself of the gift of breath and how lucky you are to be alive. He suggests practicing this at least three times per week.”

6. Use Visual Reminders (Emmons 198)

“Help yourself to a drink from the refrigerator and you might see a magnet on the door quoting Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery… today is a gift.’
“Two primary obstacles to being grateful are (1) forgetfulness and (2) a lack of mindful awareness.”

7. Make a Vow to Practice Gratitude (Emmons 201)

“Why is swearing an oath an effective motivator of behavior? For one, a vow, when made before others, constitutes a public pronouncement of an intention to perform an action…. For those spiritually inclined, making a vow to God is serious business.”

8. Watch Your Language (Emmons 203)

“Grateful people have a particular linguistic style. They tend to use the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, abundance. They traffic in the discourse of thankfulness…. In gratitude, we are not focusing on how inherently good or special we are, but rather on the inherently good or special things that others have done on our behalf. We might say to ourselves, ‘I have so much in life to be thankful for,’ ‘I am truly blessed,’ ‘Everyday is a surprise,’ or ‘My life is a gift.'”

9. Go Through the Motions (Emmons 205)

Smile and you’re happier… “If we go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude is triggered. What is a grateful motion? Saying thank you. Writing letters of gratitude…. Expressing gratitude to someone whom you’ve never properly taken the time to thank can have profoundly positive consequences, for both the person expressing and the recipient. Research I described in chapter 2 indicated that the positive glow resulting from sharing a gratitude letter can last for several months.

10. Think Outside the Box (Emmons 206)
“The first case is being grateful to those who do you harm. In other words, being grateful to our enemies…. Gratitude to those who harm is a highly advanced form of gratitude that most of us are not easily capable of.”
“You may be able to more readily identify with the second anomalous case of gratitude. It is being grateful to someone whom you benefit.”

For more information, you can contact Trish Henrie at InteraSolutions at Contact by Email.

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