The point of a daily gratitude practice is to train yourself to notice and appreciate all the good things happening in your life, right here, right now - and then to express real thankfulness for them. Your goal: to cultivate positivity in your life, rather than focusing on where you experience lacks.
Here are five easy ways to get your gratitude on, right now:
- Pin up gratitude reminders. Want a simple way to create visual reminders that help you focus your intentions? Stick Post-It note with the words, “I am grateful,” on your bathroom mirror or fridge door. That way, you’ll be reminded throughout the day to pause and name something you’re grateful for in that moment. Or: Every night when you sit down to dinner, say one thing you’re grateful for that day.
- Use a gratitude journal. First, pick a journal that appeals to you - digital, faux-leather-bound or a slim, red steno notebook. Get consistent, and write in journal at the same time each day, noting down three to five specific things that inspire gratitude in you.
- Fill a gratitude jar. You can do this alone or with your family. Pick out a large bucket or jar (maybe even one that you decorate). Every day as a family - or whenever gratitude strikes you - write down what you’re thankful for and toss the slips of paper into the jar. Once a week or month, or whenever you need a recharge, dip into the jar and pull out random slips to see how much good stuff is present in your life.
- Make a gratitude necklace. This is a great nightly practice to do as a family. Buy a bag of colorful beads and some necklace string to prep. Before bedtime, sit together and ask each person to name two or three things they’re grateful for; then pass them the bag to select a bead for each thing on their list. After everyone has shared, string your beads on your necklace. At the end of the month, everyone has a necklace to remind them of all the good from the previous month – this is especially fulfilling for kids.
- Grab a gratitude rock. Find a stone you connect with - a rock you love for its type or texture (rose quartz), or one from a special location or event (your camping trip in the Rockies). Carry this rock in your pocket or your bag, wear it on a chain or keep it on your desk at work. When you notice it, pause to think of at least one thing you’re grateful for.
Finally, here are a couple of ways to get the most out of your gratitude practice.
1. Focus on the positive. Have you ever felt like some days everything that comes out of your mouth is a complaint? You know what we mean: “The traffic was horrible today. I’m exhausted. I’m just not feeling creative. My kids are driving me crazy.”
Try taking the energy you expend on the negative and push it to the positive. Could you challenge yourself for one day, or one week if you’re feeling brave, to avoid complaining, gossiping or criticizing yourself or others?
And if you find yourself in a challenging situation, think about what you’ll learn from it. Ask: When I look back on this, without getting upset, what am I grateful for?
Don’t make gratitude a grind
Your thankfulness practice should invigorate you, not be a chore.
Feeling gratitude shouldn’t be like taking out the trash or flossing your teeth, those things on your to-do list that aren’t exactly enjoyable.
Tip: If you’re more alert in the morning, focus your gratitude practice then, rather than on right before bedtime. Or if you’re a night owl, schedule your practice then. You can set a daily reminder on your phone or calendar to prompt you to perform your gratitude ritual.
Give yourself the space and the grace to enjoy its moments in your day, and realize that it takes time to build a habit, even of being grateful for the small (and large) pleasures life gives you.