Do you know that warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when something so amazing happens that you can’t even believe it, and you are so grateful, you could explode from all the love in your chest?

Yes? Oh good. Because that feeling is what this post is all about.

Giving thanks

Let me ask you: When was the last time you expressed gratitude for something or someone? I mean, other than saying the generic “thank you“ when the barista hands you your caffein fix. It’s ok if it’s been a while. But chances are, if you haven’t expressed gratitude in a while, you don’t notice all of the beautiful things happening in your life. And I am here to change that.

I mean, you’ve probably heard the rave about gratitude before, have you? How a grateful heart makes a happy you and such. And that is absolutely true. When you are grateful, you simply can’t be sad, or angry, or frustrated. When you a grateful, your heart just fills with love, not only for the things that you are thankful for, but also for life in general.

Every night when my boyfriend and I go to bed, we talk about the things that we are grateful for that day. It’s beautiful ritual for both of us. Reliving the day and looking for things that were great is an amazing way to end the day. And in the long haul, taking a few minutes every day to “count your blessings“ as they say, will make a huge difference in your life. But not only that, it will also help you create an even happier life. I will get to that soon.

You live a magical life

Once you make a habit out of it, it makes you realize what a magical life you’re already living even if it ain’t perfect yet. Even on days that basically sucked: When you commit to practicing gratitude and finding – let’s say – at least three things to be grateful for that day, you’ll see that this sucky day still had pretty good stuff in it. It may have been something small as that delicious hot chocolate that you made for yourself to sulk over the fact that your favorite TV show got cancelled. And some days may suck so bad, that you can only come up with something broad and general like having a roof over your head which is so normal for our part of the world you almost feel embarrassed even mentioning it.

But you can find something to be grateful for. Every single day. I attest to that.

Join the gratitude party

Now, there is one very important thing about this whole gratitude party: You have to find a way to actually let that grateful feeling touch your heart. You know, there is no use in saying that you’re grateful for xyz when you only say the words but don’t feel it. That won’t do s**t. But picture that blissful sleep that you’re gonna have when you let that yummy thankfulness fill you up.

I’m sure you get what I mean. If you make a gratitude list every night – and you can feel the thankfulness – you fall asleep happier than without one, because you realize all of the blessings in your life. Hooray!

Use your gratitude for good

But raving about how awesome gratitude is, is not entirely what this post is about. I mean, yes, I want to encourage you to make a gratitude list every single night. But I don’t only want you to make it. I also want you to work with it. Because you can actually use your gratitude to create a life that makes you even more grateful, which basically means happier. Sounds good? Alrighty.

Can we just agree that you want to create a happier life for yourself? I’m sure we can, because who wouldn’t want that. Now, that is a beautiful goal, but if you have no idea what makes you happy, or what you want, how are you going to achieve that? And this is exactly where your gratitude list comes in, because it is a good place to start looking for clues.

Think about it this way: On your gratitude list, you put all of the things that you are thankful for, right? And you are usually thankful for things that you enjoy and that make you happy. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be that grateful to the person who decided to cancel Gilmore Girls because that definitely didn’t make anybody happy.

Your gratitude list is a feel-good list

Your gratitude list is basically a feel-good list. And this is why you can look for clues in said list to figure out what you want more of to sparkle up your life.

I’d say, cozy up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and go through your gratitude lists from the last weeks or even months if you already practice gratitude regularly. If not, start doing so tonight and sit down with your list at the end of the week.

When you look through it, ask yourself if you see any patterns in there.

Thank you, jackfruit burger!

Let me explain what I mean by that with a personal example: What I find very often in my gratitude list is food – a delicious meal that I had, or that my boyfriend cooked for me, or that amazing restaurant we went to, or the vegan food trucks we found in the streets of Budapest, or something like that. Almost every day I am grateful for something food-related. If I didn’t already know, this would be a clue for me that food is a major happiness factor for me. I can revel in a bite of jackfruit burger like no other. Puts my sparkle meter straight up just seeing it on the menu.

You might find other patterns or themes in your gratitude lists.

Maybe you are grateful for walks in nature, that bird that landed on your office windowsill, the rainbow you saw on your way back home from work, those two minutes you spent with your feet in the grass. If these are tings that pop up in your gratitude list, then nature is a key factor in your happiness, and you want to spend more time there to make yourself feel good.

The common themes

Do you see how this works? You look for common themes, and these themes give you a sense of the things that you enjoy doing or having or eating or whatever. And once you know that, you can actively pursue them. You can go for walks in nature more often, bring more plants into your home, or diffuse essential oils that remind you of the woods. Or, if you’re like me, you can spend more time in the kitchen preparing an amazing meal.

Isn’t it cool what a little bit of gratitude every day can do? It doesn’t only make you happy in that moment, it tells you how to make yourself even happier in the long haul. Woohoo!

Now, all that is left to say is: If you want to figure out how to live you happiest life possible, start with gratitude. Start today. Heck, start right now. Grab a pen and paper and let the gratitude pour out of your heart on the page. And if you happen to be grateful for a person, go tell them. It’ll make their day.