Experience Gratitude With Mental Subtraction

Experience gratitude by imagining what life would be like without our most cherished people and places.

It’s easy to begin taking things for granted.

Through no fault of our own, we adapt to everything around us and over time, we can fail to see things for what they are.

That may put us at a disadvantage because the positives those things bring can begin to wear off. 

Sometimes it can be hard to appreciate even our loved ones.

So here’s another way to make things and people meaningful again: imagine your life without them.


One by one, subtract those things from your life and feel what it would be like if you had that one friend or colleague less.

Imagine them leaving your life forever.

No more lunches, workouts, meetings, or evenings out.

Imagine no longer having access to your favorite park, coffee, podcast, places, and people in your life.

List out all those things you appreciate right now and don’t want to lose in the space below.

If it feels bad, that is a good sign.

Mentally removing positive things from our lives can make us appreciate and realize how unhappy we’d be without them.

How did the activity make you feel?