Growth | Written by: Yiqing Zhao

The Gratitude List: 8 Things to Be Grateful for Each Day

Gratitude might sound like a cliche to you, especially if you are trying really hard—trying hard to make more money, to lose some extra pounds, to find a romantic partner, to make more friends, etc.

You feel like you’ve earned every dollar you’ve made; you feel like you’re so entitled to all the things you have in your life. Why do you need to be grateful?

Well, let me tell you something, with tears in my eyes: Last month, I lost 4 people in my life within 2 weeks—a mentor, a friend, an industry acquaintance, and the best friend of a friend of mine.

That’s a lot of losses to deal with. I sat with myself in grief, asking myself: Do I have any reason to be ungrateful? Do I have any reason to look at my “problems” and think they are insurmountable?

No, I don’t. I feel lucky, and I feel grateful. This genuine gratitude has freed me from all sorts of mind drama I might have had and motivated me to live a more meaningful, fulfilling, and purpose-driven life.

No matter where you are at in your life, and what just happened to you, let me share my list of eight things to be grateful for, and you decide if you’d like to join me on this gratitude journey.

1. I’m Grateful I’m Alive

Enough said, right? People are dying every second. As you get older, you will experience more deaths around you—some could be very unexpected, shocking, and saddening. Behind each of those deaths, there was probably a to-do list, some family, and of course, numerous stories.

Just remember: For those who passed, they never got a chance to do what they wanted to do.

But you? You are still living and breathing. You might be in pain, you might just lost your job, but those were really nothing compared to death, right? 

Life is unpredictable, and nobody knows when we will die. Therefore, being alive is indeed the first and foremost thing that we should be grateful for.

2. I’m Grateful I’m Healthy

If you are healthy and pain-free, you should be grateful. Being healthy is THE MOST IMPORTANT asset you can have because that is the 1 before all the zeros you want to add. Without that one, none of the zeros will be of any use. 

Not to mention the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of being healthy—you can do the things you want to do; you can feel great about yourself, and life; you won’t spend a fortune maintaining it—which means you can put the money into the things you really want to do.

3. I’m Grateful I Have a Roof over My Head

As a New Yorker who has seen homeless people everywhere, I cannot be more grateful that I have a roof over my head.

If you live in a shoebox apartment and find yourself upset, think about the homeless, and remind yourself that you still have a roof over your head.  You still have a space to rest your body and mind, to protect yourself from the wind and the rain. You are just fine. 

4. I’m Grateful I Have the Necessities

While people have different standards for necessities, the most important thing is to know that you have enough.

Maybe you are not living in a luxury building with a doorman and gym, maybe you cannot afford to order food delivery every week. As long as you have the necessities, you are fine.

If you can afford a two-dollar jar of peanut butter, don’t be upset about not being able to afford the priciest organic ones. If you can afford a $40 weekly grocery bill, don’t feel bad about not being able to have dinner at a fancy restaurant. 

Because a lot of people cannot afford that peanut butter, and a $40 weekly grocery bill may well be outside of a lot of people’s budget. 

The truth is, there are so many people who don’t even have access to clean water, warm clothes, or edible food.

If you do, be grateful.

5. I’m Grateful I Have a Strong Support System

What do I mean by having a support system? Humans are social animals—while we might strive for individual success, having a support system is key to our wellbeing and happiness.

A support system includes, but not limited to, your family and friends, mentors/coaches, therapists, social groups/communities/churches, etc—basically, individuals or groups you can socialize with, or ask for help.

Your support system is your rock. They lift you up when you are down, they hold space for you when you are overwhelmed, they guide you when you are lost. Be grateful for them—they make your life 10 times better.

6. I’m Grateful I Have Liberty

Born and raised in China, I did not have the freedom that I’m having right now. Freedom of speech was non-existent, and because of a highly collective culture, I cared too much about how others thought of me—which left me very little freedom of thought. 

Liberty is like oxygen—you don’t feel it when you have it, but once you are deprived of it, you are going to feel suffocated. 

Just like the Hungarian poet Petofi’s poem: “Liberty and love These two I must have. For my love, I’ll sacrifice My life. For liberty, I’ll sacrifice My love.”

A large population on this planet does not have liberty. If you do, be grateful.

7. I’m Grateful I Have Access to Technology

If you are reading this article, you also have access to technology. Be grateful.

Technology is one of the things people take for granted because it takes up such a big piece of our lives, and we are forgetting what life is like before this.

Yes, you might be complaining about how short your attention span has become, or how much your eyes hurt after staring at your laptop for a whole day. But don’t forget how technology has drastically improved our lives. 

You are reaping the benefits of technology because you have access to it. You're reading this article, because you have access to the Internet, and therefore you have access to an endless well of information and knowledge. 

Think about those people who don’t, and be grateful.

8. I’m Grateful for My Pet

Maybe you don’t have one, but don’t worry—you can still benefit from this gratitude by applying it to other living breathing things around you.

Pets make us better humans. I learned that when I was taking care of my friend’s dogs earlier this year. That kind of unconditional love is hard to get from anywhere else. And when they look at you with glistening eyes, you feel like you are the best person in the world, and you have to live up to it.

After fostering 4 dogs and adopting the 4th one (now a 4-month-old puppy),  I stepped into a new state of being. I took on much more responsibility because of her. I became more daring, more patient, more loving, and more social—all great qualities that I credit my puppy for. 

You don’t have to have a pet to give and receive unconditional love. Extend that love to your neighbors, to the next cashier you’ll meet, to the barista who makes your coffee, to your plants. Be present with them, be kind to them, and thank them. Give, and ask for nothing in return. 

Take inventory of how these experiences make you feel. If you are doing this work, you will feel genuine gratitude. 

What's on Your Gratitude List?

Life can be difficult at times, I get that. When you encounter hardships next time, instead of getting into the “problem-solving mode”, take a step back and count your blessings.

We can be so forgetful and take things for granted, especially when we are just trying to push harder and get more things done. Pause, and take inventory of the things you are grateful for. Then create more from that place.

Soon you will start to see more miracles coming your way.

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