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Practice gratitude daily. Practicing gratitude can have far reaching benefits for your overall well being. It’s one of the biggest things to take up space in your wellness basket and often overlooked by people when they start their wellness journey.
Why It’s Important to Practice Gratitude
Gratitude gives us positive emotions and thoughts. This has powerful effects on your brain. We become more aware of our surroundings. We have increased self-satisfaction and our moods are enhanced. This leads to social benefits as well as strengthening your immune system and can also have a positive effect on your sleep cycles. UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research enter tells us that gratitude actually changes the neural structures in the brain giving us scientific evidence why gratitude is important, making us feel happier and more content.
10 Ways to Practice Gratitude
Most people understand that gratitude is important. There’s many well known scripture verses that talk about giving thanks.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with hymns: Give thanks to Him: praise His namePsalm 99 (100): 4
But not everyone knows exactly how to incorporate gratitude into their lives. Even if you want to, you can’t just wake up and be a more grateful person. At least, usually, not without some major life-changing event. So if you are not one who already consistently practices gratitude, it may take some adjustments and some real effort to make it a habit. It’s okay. Here’s a few practical and simple ways to practice gratitude.
Keep a Gratitude Jar
Keep a glass jar and a cube of colorful paper beside it. (Or a box and some scrap paper- the materials aren’t as important as the practice – but might motivate you or help you remember if it’s extra pretty). Write one thing on a piece of paper each day that you are particularly grateful for that day. It may be a friend that visited, a piece of freshly baked bread with butter, seeing a bird outside the window or anything that makes you feel blessed or thankful. As the jar fills up, you’ll see how many things there are to be grateful for. On a day you are struggling, take a few minutes to read all those wonderful little notes.
My family does this together during the year sometimes or just the month of November. Then we read them out loud on Thanksgiving or the days that follow. We usually try to each write three things a day, and then read about 5-6 of them a day (out loud at the dinner table)starting on Thanksgiving. It’s really fun and when we have done it through the year it really brings back some great memories and helps us know what we all find meaningful.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
The journal is similar to the jar, but it’s a journal or tablet that many people like to keep by the bed. Instead of just one thing, the goal is to write down three things a day. Most people write in it at bedtime. This way they have the whole day to reflect upon and can think of three things that happened that day or just three things in general that they feel gratitude for. You can certainly write in your gratitude journal any time of day – whatever works for you.
There’s a lot of ways people use affirmations. I’m a firm believer in how beneficial they are. Positive affirmations are one way to begin practicing gratitude. For planting the seeds of gratitude, start each day with 3-5 positive affirmations about things you are grateful for. Just think of 3-5 positive statements to start the day with. You might want to say them as soon as you wake or along with your daily prayers. Make it a part of your routine. Things like – “This is a glorious new day in which I have air in my lungs and a roof over my head, ” or “Thank you God for the blue of the sky and the green of the grass.” Make your affirmations lifting but also personal to you and things that bring you joy and thanksgiving.
Notice Your Surroundings
Take opportunities three times a day to just look around at your surroundings and find something to have gratitude for. Maybe it’s just the warm coffee in your mug, the way the shadows of the trees fall across the snow, the sound of the birds in the trees, or the lunch that awaits you. It could be the coffee date you had with a friend, game night with the family or just having five minutes to walk today. Set a timer on your phone as a reminder if you need to. Make sure you take a minute to really look around you and see all there is to be grateful for at least three times a day.
Take time out of your day to thank at least one person. Of course, the more the better. Thank them for opening the door, making dinner, being supportive, or for reminding you to be grateful 😉 Just remember to offer people (and God) your thanks. Make it a daily habit.
Put some things around your bedroom, home and office that remind you to give thanks. It could be a plaque with a scripture quote, a post-it -note you write to yourself or any personal way you have to remind yourself, when you see this object, that gratitude is in order.
Stop Complaining and Practice Gratitude
One of the biggest things that holds us back from having a grateful heart is often the complaints and negativity in our hearts. Try to stop the habit of complaining – or at least try to lessen the habit. And when you do think of something you want to complain about, make yourself think of two things to be grateful for instead.
Offer Compliments and Positivity
It strengthens our own ability to be grateful when we are being positive with others. Offer compliments to friends, families, and even strangers. Do you see someone wearing a color you love? Tell them. Did your friend make a tasty treat for coffee hour? Let them know how much you liked it. When you make a habit of looking for things to be positive about, it becomes easier to find them. Share this with others. To practice gratitude this way will make your day brighter and their day brighter too.
Use Your Senses
Take time to be mindful when you are eating a meal, drinking a comforting beverage, or sitting outside. Take a few minutes to think about what you see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Be mindful of the wonderful things right there that are colorful, detailed and beautiful. Notice the sounds around you – and if they are not pretty sounds? Still be grateful you can hear them. Feel the texture of your clothes, your desk, your couch, your blanket. Smell your coffee or the air outside. Maybe some flowers? Taste your food and savor the flavors. Just be really mindful of all that is good around you. I bet there’s more there than you realize.
Celebrate Your Wins
Most of us don’t really take time to really savor the moment of our successes. Especially the small ones. And it’s the small ones that add up. Savor that cup of coffee that you made really well. Savor the moment when the kitchen is finished being cleaned for the night. Give yourself a pat on the back when the laundry is clean( note I did NOT say folded and put away- lol). Tell yourself thank you when you provide a meal to the family. Let yourself be grateful for all of your wins- not just the big ones!
Practice Gratitude – Time to get started!
So there you have ten ways to start putting gratitude into your day. Make it a daily habit. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that acknowledges the good in life. We all need to recognize, especially in times of misfortune and worry, just how much there is still to be grateful for. Start your challenge to practice gratitude today!