As Americans glide toward the Thanksgiving holiday, this is the perfect time of year to revisit the power of gratitude as something much greater than a single day of food and family. Numerous scientific studies (like the research coming out of a leading institute on the science of strengths and well-being) show that our relationships with others and ourselves can be strengthened by a regular practice of gratitude.
So the question becomes how do we create a practice of gratitude so we can enjoy greater vitality, connection, and fulfillment available through cultivating a gratitude practice?
Like any other practice, the benefits of gratitude are only available when we practice consistently. A single workout is a start toward a toned body, but the only way to get to the results we desire is by showing up regularly. The same holds true with gratitude.
When we create systems in our lives that allow us to think, feel, and act on the ways we appreciate ourselves, our lives, and those around us, these small acts can compound into habits (and ultimately into a sense of identity) rooted in appreciation. When we become grateful people, others enjoy being around us and our lives open up in new and profound ways.
Here are 6 simple ways you can help yourself cultivate more gratitude starting now:
1) Create daily reminders.
Write down some of the things you are grateful for on sticky notes and place them in the spaces you visit daily. The act of writing these things down ("I'm grateful for my health, my warm bed, my family, running water, a washing machine... anything that pops into your head is a powerful start). Next, slide these notes into places you are likely to see everyday like your car, bathroom mirror, desk, refrigerator, light switch or other places. These small touches of gratitude will offer multiple daily reminders to read and think about some of the things you are grateful for, which can be easily overshadowed on busy days or hard seasons.
2) Speak it aloud.
Notice something or someone doing something kind, helpful, beautiful, heart-warming or funny? Name it! Not only will this make you feel good, but it also spreads the good vibes to others, which amplifies the feeling.
3) Set a gratitude alarm.
We set daily reminders to wake up or attend that next meeting. Why not set a reminder on your phone to pause for a single breath of gratitude? I have had an alarm set on my phone every morning at 11:11am and again every afternoon for years. It almost always gives me a moment to pause and feel just a little more aligned with my gratitude for all that I have and all that I am doing. It's an easy way for anyone to sprinkle in a mindful moment of gratitude.
4) Take a Gratitude Walk.
Taking a walk outside is wonderful way to reset your energy. When you begin your walk, start by thinking or speaking aloud "Today I am grateful for..." Then go about your walk. As you do, see how many times you can come back to that feeling of gratitude. For an extra dose of self-care, try this in the bath or shower too. Have kids? Take them on your gratitude walk with you. Too cold? Go on a gratitude drive! Are you starting to see that no matter what you do, you can find a way to tie in gratitude and feel happier when you stretch just a bit further toward that good feeling? It doesn't take any extra time, just more intentionality to begin the habit.
5) Make some Gratitude Art!
If you're not sure where to start, try our Gratitude Activity Bundle. But, were also certain that if you pull out those fancy pens, colored pencils, or watercolors you have stashed away somewhere and set your intention for how much you have to be grateful for... you just might surprise yourself at the beauty you can create in the process.
6) Write a Gratitude Letter.
One of the best ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude is to share it with others. Take 5-10 minutes to write someone a letter that expressed why you're grateful for them. Not only will it make you feel good, we're betting you'll make a huge impression on them and fill their gratitude cup in the process. Fun Fact: Our Gratitude Bundle has several cool ways to share a letters with yourself and others.
The more you focus on the ways you feel grateful, the more the feeling grows and the better you'll feel. The better you feel, the more likely you are to feel and express gratitude; it's a self-fulfilling cycle. All you have to do is be intentional about getting it started and before long, you'll be ready to sprinkle it around like confetti!
I'm grateful that you made it to the end of this article. Sending you a virtual high five, my heARTful friend!