A simple daily gratitude routine that will improve your life and your relationship.

Brenden Mulligan
Oct 20, 2015 · 3 min read

Research has shown that the more we appreciate, the happier we are. But finding time to feel gratitude is a challenging thing. Most of us don’t have the willpower to start a full gratitude practice. Even carving out time to just think about a few things you’re grateful for is hard no matter how busy you are. However, I recently found a method that works.

Previously, the closest I’ve ever come to making this a regular practice was using the Five Minute Journal. It’s a phenomenal product that makes it simple to organize quick thoughts twice a day. I used it on and off for a month or so, but couldn’t make it habitual.

So I put the goal aside for a bit. Then, while recently talking with my executive coach about something related, he told me about a former client who found a way to work gratitude into his routine in a way that made himself happier as well as strengthened his relationship with his partner. Win-win.

My fiancée and I followed the directions and two months later, have rarely had a day go by where we haven’t written down what we’re grateful for. It’s adding a fulfilling and fun detail to our relationship and helped us better understand and appreciate what makes each other happy.

Here are the instructions.

  1. Buy a whiteboard, ideally waterproof. We got this one and it’s pretty good. It’s more of a wax pencil on plastic than typical white board material but it does the trick.
  2. Write “Today I am grateful for:” at the top of it and 1, 2, 3 down the side.
  3. Hang it in your shower. Somewhere you can read it while standing in the stream of water.
  4. The next time you shower, write three things you are grateful for. Make these things specific. The goal of this exercise is to make your brain access these positive memories and create positive emotions. If you thoughtlessly jot down things like “my health” or “the past weekend”, then your brain doesn’t need to work and you don’t get the benefit. Instead of “my health”, write something like “Feeling more energetic and awake this morning” and instead of “the past weekend”, write “Going on a hike with Dave on Sunday”. Specificity is very important.
  5. Then, every time you or your partner take a shower, spend time reading the board, then erase it and write yours for the day. Ideally if your personal hygiene is in decent shape, this means you and your significant other will read what the other is grateful for daily. So in addition to getting to exercise the thankful part of your brain, you get to see positive thoughts from your partner. You get a better understanding of what makes her/him happy and what specifically they’re happy about over the past day.

I’d encourage everyone to give this a try for a month. If it doesn’t work, you wasted $20. But I think you’ll like it.

Further Reading

And if you’re interested in reading more, Psychology Today has a whole section on gratitude, including the following recent posts:

Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has — as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness — and especially expression of it to others — is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.

Thanks for reading this! If you got value out of this article, I would really appreciate you hitting the / recommend button below. Connect with me on Twitter @mulligan with any comments / thoughts.

Brenden Mulligan

Written by

Entrepreneur & Designer. Currently helping with product @Google via @LaunchKit acquisition. Co-founder of @Cluster. Tweets at @mulligan, views are my own.

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