Updated: Oct 15
Gratitude is the key that unlocks the door to greater life satisfaction. Those who practice gratitude consistently experience improved physical and mental health, including greater awareness, appreciation, and overall positivity.
Oftentimes, those who regularly cultivate gratitude report awe-inspiring consequences. How would you feel if you could improve your self-esteem, deepen your relationships, and create more fulfilling memories? What about gaining resilience and moving through stress and grief with greater ease?
The good news is that anyone can easily adopt an attitude of gratitude. In order to experience the full benefits of a gratitude practice, the commitment requires more than just halfheartedly going through the motions. Additionally, like any habit, the more frequently gratitude is practiced, the greater the results will yield. Here are 5 ways to add a gratitude practice to your daily life to start reaping the benefits for yourself:
1. Feel Grateful
This might sound simple, but feeling grateful is fundamental for a successful gratitude practice. Listing what you're grateful for is fruitless without fully embracing the feeling of gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion, and therefore can be felt in the body. For example, when you feel gratitude, you might feel light, content, and grounded.
One of the best ways to promote the physical feeling of gratitude is through guided meditation. Being still, fully present and allowing any thoughts and feelings to come up is powerful. Pausing the day-to-day grind to connect with yourself and acknowledge your blessings allows you to feel loved, worthy, and whole. In allowing yourself to feel your feelings without judgment, you gain self-trust, confidence, and fulfillment from within. Gratitude felt within yourself also opens you up to connect deeper with others.
2. Set Daily Reminders
As with changing any behavior, daily practice increases the likelihood that the habit will stick long term. To make a gratitude practice part of your everyday life, you need not overcomplicate things. Simply set a reminder on your phone, or write a sticky note where you will see it. You can start out with a one-minute gratitude practice and work your way into it.
Once gratitude does become a habit, you likely won't need the reminders. Most people end up feeling such strong positive effects, that they don't want to leave gratitude out of their daily routines anyway. You know how when you're out of the habit of going to the gym, forcing yourself to work out feels so tough? But when you're on a gym kick and working out makes you feel amazing, you can't imagine skipping out? A gratitude practice is no different. Once you get past the stage of convincing yourself to stay with it every day, the way you feel will have you naturally keeping at it.
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Whether you use a physical journal, the notepad on your phone, or another method, writing out what you're grateful for is a powerful practice. Even if you only write down 1-3 things that fill you with gratitude, this habit will lead you to go about your day more mindfully. Keeping a gratitude journal is an excellent way to shift your focus toward positivity. Your mind will subconsciously seek out things you can feel grateful for throughout your days.
When you feel worried, stressed, or catch yourself overthinking, the most effective way to pull yourself out is through gratitude. Bringing yourself to think about and write down what you're grateful for amidst struggling may feel difficult at first. However, the more you keep at it, the more likely you are to default to appreciating the positive aspects of any situation.
4. Take Mindful Breaks
Some of the best opportunities to reflect on your gratitudes are the small, seemingly insignificant moments. Look around your bathroom while brushing your teeth. Glance out the car window at a red light. Step out onto your front porch for a minute. Take moments every day to look around and take in your surroundings with all of your senses. Finding things to be grateful for in your everyday life reprograms your mind. When you focus on what you're grateful for in your present life, you manifest more moments and opportunities to be grateful for.
If you're reading this, you likely have a phone or computer with an internet connection, a roof over your head, and access to clean water. Those three things alone, that you likely use every day, can become so mundane unless you actively choose gratitude. It's easy to forget how good we truly have it when we're not viewing our lives with a grateful outlook.
5. Share Your Gratitude
One of the most exciting parts about starting a gratitude practice is the opportunity to inspire others around you. Hold yourself accountable with your partner, a friend, or a family member. Ask each other every day, "what's one thing you're grateful for?" Allow discussing gratitude to become a normal part of your life.
Are venting, complaining, and gossiping forms of connecting with the people in your circle? Don't be afraid to change the conversation to a more positive one. The more you insist that gratitude can, and should, be part of your relationships, the more likely your loved ones are to follow suit. The more people practicing gratitude and experiencing the positive effects, the better!