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50 Questions to Help You Foster Gratitude and Feel Good About Life

Woman Holding Heart

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melody Beattie

There’s very little that upsets me like feeling stuck and out of control. That’s exactly how I felt at the beginning of this year.

Things were going well in many areas of my life, but I wasn’t happy with my living situation. Since I knew my fiancé was happy with our move back to his hometown in northern California, where we first met, I felt completely powerless to change what wasn’t working for me.

For a while I tossed and turned at night, stressing about the choice we’d made, feeling guilty about not being happy. I felt even guiltier about the possibility of asking him to give up something I knew he wanted.

With so much emotion weighing on me, it was hard to identify what I really wanted. And then I questioned if it even mattered. What if we moved and he was unhappy? Was my happiness more important than his?

What if we moved and I was unhappy? Then the choice would have been pointless.

And then there was the fear of what people would think if we moved yet again. We’d spent the two years prior bouncing from one short-term rental to another, trying to become bi-coastal, after living in LA for two years before that.

It seemed like the only fair option at the time, considering our families live on opposite coasts, and neither of us liked the idea of starting a family far from the people we love.

When that proved too difficult, for reasons far too vast to list, we chose his hometown—where I knew I didn’t want to live full time, long term—and I felt terrified that I’d get stuck there forever.

Some days I’d start crying out of nowhere, while eating breakfast, or working, or watching TV. I’d feel fear, and anxiety, and confusion, and then more guilt for being so emotional and unable to identify and own my desires.

One day I realized I’d fallen into a trap I’d fallen into many times before, and an ironic one, at that: because I’d felt trapped in my circumstances, I’d gotten trapped in my emotions.

I was dwelling, overanalyzing, and worrying about worst-case scenarios. No wonder I was so blocked. I was trying to solve a problem from a place of desperation and fear. Always a recipe for disaster.

So I decided to do something I’d done before, but hadn’t in quite a while: I started a gratitude journal.

I knew I needed to nurture more positive emotions on a daily basis, and that everything would get clearer and easier from there.

At first it was a little difficult. I’d write something down—“catching up with my brother,” for example—but it didn’t necessarily change how I felt.

That’s when I remembered that knowing you should be grateful and truly feeling gratitude are two very different things.

In order to actually feel gratitude, I had to dig deeper and reflect upon just how fortunate I was.

People have always seen me as fortunate, even when I was secretly struggling with depression and bulimia, as I’ve always appeared to have a lot going for me.

But I realize I am more fortunate than ever at this point in my life. I just needed a little more to help me access my gratitude, buried as it was beneath layers of fear and anxiety.

Throughout this year, I’ve been building a list of questions that help me identify what I most appreciate about my life and the people in it.

If you too could benefit from nurturing more positive emotions—and let’s face it, we all could—try asking yourself one of these questions and see where they take you.

1. What’s one kind or thoughtful thing someone did for you recently?

2. Who is always there for you, and how do you feel about them?

3. Who has helped you become the person you are today, and what’s the top thing you’d thank them for?

4. Who’s someone who always really listens when you talk, and how does that affect you?

5. How have your spiritual beliefs or practices fulfilled you recently?

6. What’s the best thing that happened today so far?

7. What’s something that inspired or touched you recently?

8. Has anyone done anything recently that made your job easier?

9. What’s one thing you enjoyed about doing your job recently?

10. Can you think of any non-physical gifts you’ve received recently—someone’s time, attention, understanding, or support?

11. What about today has been better than yesterday?

12. Who have you enjoyed being around recently, and why?

13. How have you used your talents and abilities recently, and what have you enjoyed about doing that?

14. What have you learned recently that will help you in the future?

15. What made you laugh or smile today?

16. What’s the last song you heard that you enjoyed? How did it make you feel, and why?

17. Have you experienced any blessings in disguise lately—things that didn’t turn out as you’d hoped and yet turned out for the best?

18. What’s the weather like today, and what’s one good thing about that?

19. How has technology enhanced your life and your connections recently?

20. Have you had an opportunity to help someone recently, and how did you feel about that?

21. What’s one thing you experienced recently that made you feel a sense of wonder or awe?

22. What’s the best thing about your home, and have you taken time to enjoy it recently?

23. If you didn’t get what you wanted today, can you identify something in what you got that’s worth having?

24. What’s improved about your life from this time last year?

25. What choices have you made in the last five years that you’d thank yourself for making?

26. What’s something you did well recently, and what qualities or skills enabled you to do this?

27. Who made a positive difference in your life recently?

28. What’s something you’re looking forward to in the future?

29. What did you learn from the most difficult part of your day yesterday, and how will this lesson benefit you going forward?

30. What’s something you witnessed recently that reminded you that life is good?

31. What’s something you witnessed recently that reminded you that people are good?

32. How many of your basic needs do you not need to worry about meeting today?

33. What event or interaction made you feel good about yourself recently?

34. How have you made personal or professional progress lately?

35. What simple pleasures did you enjoy—or can you enjoy—today?

36. What modern conveniences (i.e.: electronics and appliances) do you enjoy that make your life easier?

37. What’s the most beautiful thing you saw today?

38. What’s something enjoyable you get to experience every day that you’ve come to take for granted?

39. What are three things your arms or legs allow you to do that you enjoy?

40. What’s the kindest thing someone has done for you lately?

41. How do your friends and/or family members show they care about you?

42. What’s the last thing you enjoyed with your senses—a good meal, a song you love, or aromatherapy—and how amazing is it that you were able to experience that?

43. What movie, book, blog, or article affected your life for the better recently?

44. What have you seen in nature recently that made you feel happy, peaceful, or free?

45. How has modern medicine improved your life, recently or overall?

46. How does electricity simplify and improve your life—and can you imagine what life would like be like without it?

47. What’s your favorite thing about your bed, and how often does it enable you to get restful sleep?

48. What’s something you have easy access to that always improves your mood, and how has it improved your life?

49. Who in your life has survived something difficult, and how do you feel when you think about the fact that they’re still here?

50. Have you recently imagined a worst-case scenario that didn’t actually happen?

This last one was crucial for me. Not only did this help me appreciate things that turned out better than I’d anticipated, it reminded me how often this happens—if only I’m willing to act.

And act I did. A couple of months ago my fiancé and I moved back to LA, still far from my family, but in an area I love, near an industry we both love. And we’re now planning to start working on short films together.

We’re also prioritizing visits with our loved ones, together and separately, so we can both still nurture our relationships.

It’s a compromise we can both not only live with, but hopefully one that will enable us to thrive.

I am far happier for having made this choice (and grateful that my fiancé was open to it). And I know I found clarity and the strength to act on this, in large part, because I made the effort to change my mental state.

It’s funny how that happens. We can sit around and stress about our problems all we want, trying to force a solution. But sometimes the best way to fix what isn’t working is to first focus on what is.

Everything gets easier when we move past fear and desperation and nurture a grateful, hopeful heart.

Woman holding heart image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. To strengthen your relationships, get her new book, Tiny Buddha's 365 Tiny Love Challenges. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter & Facebook.

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Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Learn to let go of the past and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Prabha

    Awesome!! Made my day… Faith and Fear both ask us to believe in something we can not see. If we put our efforts in listing our Gratitude for the day we can cheer up ourselves much more instead of spending all our energy by worrying… Thanks for that post! 🙂

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  • Angela Baucom

    Love this Lori! I make gratitude lists every day, but I’ve wanted a way to deepen my practice. These questions are perfect!

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  • Shauntay Vichelle Larkins

    Easily one of the best blogs to date and exactly what I needed to read this morning.

  • I’m glad it was helpful to you, Shauntay! Thanks for taking the time to write.

  • Thanks Angela! I hope they help. =)

  • You’re most welcome! =)

  • Great post. Thank you for sharing some great questions!

  • jenn

    I recently began a gratitude journal as well and I am amazed to see how truly helpful it is. I carry it with me everyday and I try to write in it everyday at least one thing I’m grateful for and then I re-read it every so often and it always helps to remind me of what I do have. It is so easy to take things for granted simply because they have always been there. But we do have to remember to be grateful because tomorrow is not promised and everything can change in an instant. Thanks for the list of questions, this should help me dig a little deeper as well.
    Jenn

  • So true, Jenn! it’s easy to forget that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Just that thought alone helps me get present and appreciate the moment.

    I hope the questions are helpful to you!

  • lv2terp

    WONDERFUL post, as always! I love all the questions to ask ourselves, they are wonderful! Thank you for sharing your learned lessons, wisdom, and awesome insight Lori! 🙂 I am truly grateful for you and Tiny Buddha, I have leaned, grown, changed so much since finding you/this!!!! 🙂 Thank you so much! 🙂 HUGS!

  • Love this, Lori! Also, you look so cute in that picture. Great questions. Printing them to have easy access to them. xo Banu

  • Thanks so much, Banu! I hope they help!

  • You’re most welcome! And thank you, again, for always being such a positive presence! You really inspire me. =)

  • lv2terp

    😀 Thank you, that is so sweet of you!

  • You’re most welcome!

  • tipis

    gratitude is a great way of easing depression. The book Magic by Rhonda Byrne helped me a lot to get a new perspective on life by practicing gratitude.

  • Getting lost in ones thoughts is where the downward spiral of anxiety rears it’s mean head if those thoughts are of the negative variety that doesn’t serve us well. That’s why your list of questions to foster gratitude is oh so helpful in finding the joy in what’s going right in life because there are many examples if we seek them out. I like how you summed everything up with “sometimes the best way to fix what isn’t working is by first focusing on what is.”

    Great read!

  • I’ve never read that actually. I have to check it out!

  • Thanks Nicole! As I read your comment, I started thinking about all the times I’ve asked myself questions that evoked fear and anxiety without even realizing it. The questions we ask ourselves can be so powerful. When I ask myself questions that evoke joy and gratitude, I’m in a much better place to face life’s challenges – and enjoy life!

  • tipis

    oh you must Lori. I think you might really like it. I have tried other books by the author which didnt quite work for me , But this book is truly inspiring. And thanks so much for your blog and wisdom. there have been so many times that reading a post on this site gives me more clarity in tough situations.

  • You’re most welcome. I’m so glad you’ve found the site helpful! =)

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