Monday Motivation: An Attitude of Gratitude

As we look ahead to a new year, and back at what transpired over the course of the last year, I think it’s a good time to take stock of the things for which we are grateful in life. Sure, there may be some outstanding concerns, tasks you wish you had completed, achievements you wish you had made, steps you wish you had taken, but looking back only at those things generally won’t serve you well to setting up for a positive new year. Rather than having a negative, backwards view, let’s try having a positive, forward-thinking view. Better yet, let’s try to sit right where we are for just a moment and thank our lucky stars for the amazing things in our lives right now.

Create a gratitude list.

I remember seeing this article on the Charles Poliquin website recently about “The Nine Habits of Highly Healthy People” and the idea of a making gratitude list stuck with me. In fact, I wrote one several years ago and included it in a holiday card to my closest friends and family, thanking them semi-publicly for the positive impact each of them had on my life. It felt good to get that down on paper and to share it with them all. I know they felt my appreciation in a big way that year, and what a gift that was to each of them.

Johnny Bowden writes in his article on the habits of healthy people that:

“By making a list of things you’re grateful for, you focus the brain on positive energy. Gratitude is incompatable with anger and stress. Practice using your under-utilized “right brain” and spread some love. Focusing on what you’re grateful for- even for five minutes a day- has the added benefit of being one of the best stress-reduction techniques on the planet.”

Okay, you may be thinking “Diane, this is such hippy-dippy-Pollyanna nonsense.”

That’s okay, you are allowed to feel that way. And to those of you who do I ask: are you truly healthy and happy in your life? If you are, then great, maybe a gratitude list isn’t something with which you should bother. For the rest of us, there’s usually something we’re constantly working towards to create positive changes in our lives. And rather than fester in the moment when we haven’t yet achieved this goal, we can stop, pause, and give thanks for what we have achieved in life, love and in our pursuit of health.

Bowden suggests that we create these lists daily if we can, but I think that stopping to create a list when you get an inkling that things seem to either be going very well, or possibly even not so well, is a great time. Pause, look around yourself, and make a list.

Here is my own gratitude list for 1/1/11:

  • I wake up excited to face a new day of a life that I have chosen. I do not have bills, responsibilities, plans, commitments, or “things to do” that I have not chosen in some way or another, directly or indirectly.
  • I am healthier and stronger than I’ve been ever before in my life.
  • My mother and father continue to provide a picture of what a give and take relationship looks like to me, for better and for worse, after 35+ years of marriage.
  • My sister and I have opened up lines of communication that had not been open in this way pretty much ever in our lives. And I plan on working on that more. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to make this happen in light of a recent tragic event – a friend of mine’s younger brother passed at a very young age – and I didn’t want to let more time go without reaching out to re-connect with my own sibling.
  • My maternal grandparents, though aging fairly rapidly, are both still alive and able to share in the joys of my current chosen career path and successes therein, as well as in some fantastic home-cooked meals around a table together.
  • My friends, both old and new, provide not only support and grounding in my past, but a compass by which to guide to my present and future. They help me to consistently challenge the choices I make, the person I am as well as the person I am constantly becoming.
  • My colleagues inspire, motivate and challenge me to become better, do more and reach more people with the information, education and support that I can provide to others so that they can live better, happier and healthier lives. I’d like to especially thank Robb Wolf, Nori Hudson, Laura KnoffJohn Tsafos, Antonio Valladares, Evelyne Lambrecht, Chloé LauerCaitlin WeeksChris Kresser, Mary Vance and Sean Croxton for this support.
  • I have a roof over my head and good food in my belly.
  • I look forward to what each new day will bring without fear or hesitation, knowing that it will change and shape me forever for the better no matter what.

Now it’s your turn. Go ahead, write a gratitude list.

You can share it with me/us in the comments below, share it with your friends and loved ones, or keep it entirely to yourself. It doesn’t matter if no one ever sees it but you, it’s as effective to your self-growth either way. That said, I find that telling people in your life that you are grateful for their presence will always yield a positive result. Wouldn’t you love to hear from someone today that they appreciate you? Yeah, I thought so.

13 thoughts on “Monday Motivation: An Attitude of Gratitude

  • jencereghino says:

    I LOVE this! A girl friend of mine recently wrote two cool blog posts (not related to food or fitness, but totally relevant) related to "Gratitude" that you'd appreciate:

    In this one, she shares her family's tradition of creating a "Gratitude Tree" at Thanksgiving:

    And, this post she shares her "47 Days of 100 Things I'm Grateful For":

    I think sometimes we get so caught up in what we CAN'T have or what we DON'T have, that we forget what we DO and CAN. And, you're right…it's such a huge part of living a healthy life. So…very cool!!! Thank you for the reminder!


  • Love this post DIane. I started writing in a gratitude journal on a daily basis on April 28, 2008 and have written in it daily ever since. Having the opportunity to take 5 minutes every night before I go to bed to write down what I am grateful for is in itself an amazing blessing. I am grateful that I am able to do this and for the fact that it has completely leveled out my stress. I have never been more calm in my life.

    P.S. I am LOVING your blog and will be keeping my eye on it VERY closely over the next few weeks and beyond. I am back to living a primal lifestyle, back to blogging, and wish to help out as many people as possible in my own unique way. I refuse to PUSH this lifestyle on anyone but LOVE to answer any questions that people have and telling them about FANTASTIC resources about the lifestyle such as this blog!

  • Diane @ Balanced Bites says:

    @Jen- awesome, thanks!!!
    @Primal Toad- April 28th is my birthday 🙂 Great day!
    Thanks for the kind words- if I help to motivate and inspire people to be healthier and happier then it's all worth it. I'm glad you enjoy my posts.

  • Jeff and Natalie Perez says:

    We need more Pollyannas in this world :). My husband and I started a Gratitude journal for each other, a great tool for married folk to keep things in perspective. As always love your work!

  • I do a GRATITUDE list almost daily when I wake up. Wow…it's really hard to have a 'bad' day when I begin it emphasizing what is working and all that I have in my life, etc. Such a simple and powerful tool that anyone an use! I'm a believer. Thank you for all you do:)

  • My friend put together this great website service:
    It sends you a daily email prompting you to enter 3 things you’re grateful for that day. It sites studies that if you do it for 30 days, your “gratitude muscle” will become buff and feeling grateful will be a habit!

    • I just watched the video I came across after clicking the link above. I feel like this is something that I really need right now. Thankyou.

  • Dear Diane,
    I read this article from your daily 21DSD support email, on the 3rd day of the group detox plan, through Dr. Mowll. I am so lucky happened to join his 2014 Diabetes Summit when I was just diagnosed as Diabetic, it had encouraged me on a new changed life style to health; then when I was struggling as what and how to cook in order to have a balanced nutritional meal, he introduced a group plan based upon your 21DSD. Getting on your program is discovering treasures, your supports are surprisingly thorough, creative and full of love!
    Thank you for doing such a superb work, thank you for being there!
    I am so grateful for Dr. Mowll and you, you guys are blessed Health Angles!

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