Having a gratitude practice is good for you mind, body, and soul. Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, explains that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits, including higher levels of positive emotions, lower blood pressure, and feeling less lonely and isolated. There is no downside to feeling grateful.
If you don’t already have a gratitude practice, you can get started by using one (or more) of these simple tools:
At the end of each day, write 3-5 things for which you are grateful that happened during the day. Be as specific as you can, describing what, who, when, and where.
As you move through your day, make a note on a slip of paper describing something for which you are grateful. Put the note in a special jar you keep somewhere convenient and visible. Once a year (perhaps on Thanksgiving Day)), read the slips of paper.
Thank you notes
When someone does something helpful or thoughtful, send them a thank you note. Keeping a convenient stash of such notes and stamped envelopes makes it easy. A quick snail mail card surprises and delights people.
Sometimes, a gratitude practice sounds like a good thing, but people have a hard time sustaining it. Like a New Year’s resolution, good intentions may fade after a few weeks. Here are some ways you can keep your practice fresh:
Share your gratitude with someone.
If you live with someone, share your gratitude Journal with them each day. If you don’t have a roommate, call or text someone to double your fun.
Move gratitude into your body.
In your journal, describe the sensory experience of whatever made you grateful – sights, sounds, textures, tastes, smells. Take a few deep breaths and imagine the experience soaking into your body.
Make it a game.
See if you can bring a sense of playfulness to your practice. Make your gratitude jar colorful and fun. Use different colored pens in your gratitude Journal. Use a different gratitude prompt in your journal each day. Change things up to keep your practice from going stale and get boring.
Grateful people have several things in common, they:
- have a sense of abundance in their lives.
- Appreciate the contributions of others to their well-being.
- Recognize and enjoy life’s small pleasures.
- Acknowledge the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Begin (or recommit to) your gratitude practice today!
In your journal:
- take three deep breaths and think about what’s happening in your body right now: heart pumping, digestion working, etc. Write a quick list of body processes for which you are grateful.
- Write a new prayer of gratitude with which to begin each day.
- What’s happening outside your window? Write a paragraph or poem celebrating the season.