The Productive Practice of Gratitude

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


This year, I have started a gratitude practice. When I set goals for 2020, 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.



Speaking of Gratitude…


I am so grateful for the people who are risking their health to take care of those who have contracted the COVID-19 virus. I am also grateful for the people who are supporting those of us who are trying to “flatten the curve.” People are risking their health and lives to help others right now.


I am grateful.


Other than do my part to stay home, I decided to write a children’s book. I invited other people to help me, and in 10 days, yes, 10 days, we wrote, edited, illustrated, and distributed a book that expresses gratitude for the helpers in this coronavirus epidemic.


The book is called Captain Corona & the 19 COVID Warriors. It is available for free now. I want you to have this book to help the children in your lives look for the helpers in this crisis. I want you to have this book as part of your gratitude practice.


In the book we call the helpers “COVID Warriors.” The 19 COVID warriors are: family, healthcare workers, custodians, scientists, first responders, government leaders, school leaders, teachers, journalists, event planners, travel workers, pets, homeless shelter workers, religious leaders, business leaders, store clerks, food workers, delivery people, and YOU. There are so many people in our world right now for whom we should express gratitude.


On the Captain Corona page, you will find images that you can download and share on social media. If you decide to download, for example, the “Thank you to our Teachers” image, make sure you tag the teachers you know and include the hashtags #Captain Corona and #19COVIDwarriors. Let’s allow a wave of shared gratitude practices to bring us all some joy right now.


If the spirit moves you toward additional expressions of gratitude, please consider a monetary donation to a local organization like the United Way, Rotary, or Red Cross who are likely helping with coronavirus containment and recovery in your area. I also encourage you to check out the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Response Fund which has global impact.


The last page of the Captain Corona PDF expresses gratitude to the people who stepped up to help as of the time of the book’s release, but I know there will be more helpers to come.


Please download and share Captain Corona. You will have my gratitude.


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?

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      That is absolutely okay, Brian. Thanks for asking. I would recommend using it as a series for the children’s times. Maybe pick one COVID Warrior per service? I’m asking everyone who wants to use the book in a public forum to give attribution to both the author (me!) and the illustrator, Brittany Curry. If possible, please share the link so that others can download the book themselves. Thanks.


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