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Dear Dan: Can You Say More About the Ungrateful List

Dear Dan,

Can you say more about the “I’m ungrateful list” – what might be on it and how to use it? I want to know more!


(I used the term “Ungrateful List” when I wrote How to Find Your Grateful Mind.)

Dear Irene,

Thanks for your question!

We don’t get where we want to go by denying reality.

Gratitude, positive energy, or a leaderly approach to life are never the result of pretending life is better than it is.

If life feels terrible, say life sucks. Write it down. But, leaders can’t go around whining. An ungrateful list is a private way to acknowledge reality. It matters for several reasons.

Think of your problems as children who want attention. They’re waving their hands saying, “Hey! Pay attention to me.”

When ungratefulness, negative issues, or problems won’t let go, give them some attention. Just remember that a problem-centric life never takes you where you hope to go.

Recognize the darkside by keeping a list.

Writing things down frees your brain. When you bury things, your brain gets worried. “Don’t you realize things are BAD?”

I believe in practicing gratitude, but pretending you’re grateful when you aren’t makes matters worse.

To practice gratitude you must find something you are actually grateful for. One way to find gratefulness is to dip into ungratefulness.

Keep an Ungrateful List because bad is stronger than good. If you don’t write it down, it will stick to you.

Just write down things that make you feel ungrateful. Don’t commit to do anything. Just write them down. Put the list in your desk and go express gratitude to/for other things.

Sometimes when you write down your frustrations, disappointments, fears, or ungratefulness, you realize they aren’t that big after all. Other times you set them aside and move forward. And sometimes you do something about it.

Best wishes,


P.S. A GRATITUDE list is useful and powerful, too.

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