Posted On January 9, 2017

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude

Reprinted with permission.

As we approach the Holiday season, deepen your gratitude practice with these 10 tips.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melody Beattie

1) Write gratitude letters — One strategy that has been proven to promote happiness is writing gratitude letters. After you spend some time thinking about the people you most appreciate, sit down to draft a letter to them. The mere act of expression is what is most important, so you don’t even need to give them the letters.

2) Express gratitude in person — Extroverts might benefit from expressing their gratitude in person to a special mentor, sibling, co-worker, or friend. It doesn’t need to be formal. Just a simple gesture of thanks is all that’s needed to feel the benefits of this kind of gratitude.

3) Express gratitude in art — For more artistic folks, you could make a gratitude collage where you cut out images of things and places and people that you most appreciate. For example, you might find a photo from a special vacation and paste it on your collage with other favorite things, like dark chocolate.

4) Gratitude journal — This is the most common gratitude practice and one of the most effective, according to research. Get yourself a journal and write down 5 things for which you are thankful. Try not to repeat items too often (you have more for which to be grateful than you realize!). You can do this each night before bed or even just once a week, but do it regularly. It’s not how often you do it that counts– it’s how consistently and sincerely.

5) Gratitude letter & visit — Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology, developed this exercise in which you think of someone who has made a powerful impact on your life, write a letter of gratitude, and then visit and read it to them in person. You can mail it too, but actually doing it in person is one of the most powerful gratitude practices you can do– literally life-changing for many people!

6) Say “thank you” more often — Just start saying it– for everything. Everyone likes to be thanked, and you will feel more joy just by saying it.

7) Write “Thank You” notes — When someone touches your heart, write them a note. I love writing thank you’s after hearing a great lesson at church or having a heartfelt moment with a friend. It’s also wonderful to send notes “just because.” “Thinking of you and feeling grateful for our friendship” is simple but very effective.

8) Text your loved ones a message of thanks — “Thanks for making the bed today!” “Thanks for being so kind to your sister this morning!” “I am so grateful to have you in my life!” Simple. Effective. One of the easiest ways to make their day and yours.

9) Practice mindfulness to appreciate each moment — Focus on the present moment. Notice what’s all around you. Use all of your senses: What do you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste? Experiencing what is right in front of you is one of the surest ways to keep a grateful heart. And it also helps ensure that you don’t miss a single blessing!

10) Take a few minutes each day to appreciate nature — Go for a walk, and notice only those things that are beautiful. Whether you focus on the stars above, a distant mountain range, or the tree in your backyard, try to notice the details. Give thanks for the beauty that surrounds you.