The Productive Practice of Gratitude

When work or life feels like it is falling apart, it is challenging for me to stay positive.

But staying positive is important to me! So, I started a gratitude practice.

As part of an annual goal setting exercise several years ago, I created a “Good Things” spreadsheet. Every Saturday, I list at least three good things that happened to me or that I did that week. It has been fun and brought more joy into my life.

I have been inspired to practice gratitude by Brené Brown’s books. If you are not familiar with her perspectives on gratitude, here is a short video that you can watch.



Here are 3 things I’ve learned about gratitude



1. Gratitude is a practice, a verb, not a feeling or attitude.


It’s lovely that the words attitude and gratitude rhyme, but I don’t subscribe to the “attitude of gratitude” movement. I’m with Brené (you, know, ‘cause we’re totally on a first name basis) that gratitude requires actions.


Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to go around the table and tell each other what you’re thankful for – do it every time you gather for dinner. Call friends, write journals, say affirmations, tell loved ones you appreciate them – DO things that demonstrate gratitude. Your attitude will follow.



2. Gratitude leads to joy, not vice versa.


Speaking of the direction of causality, we cannot wait until we feel happy to find things about which we should be grateful. Gratitude practices lead to joy. Meditation practices lead to peace. Action causes motivation. Whenever we erroneously think that a benefit can precede an action, we stagnate.



3. Gratitude is fragile unless it is supported with self-love.


Change starts at home. In a gratitude practice, “home” is you, your body, your abilities, and your accomplishments. If you cannot appreciate the wonder of YOU, then any gratitude you express for things outside of you will not survive long.


Do you want to be a positive person? Then be positively grateful.


Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Brad Wolff

    Thanks Melissa, this is a very helpful message!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thanks, Brad. Gratitude has been a helpful practice in my life.

  2. Brian

    Melissa, I think we might work this into our Sunday services with the children if that is okay with you. Any thoughts about adaptation or application?


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