“Gratitude” is a real buzzword these days, but how exactly are you supposed to put it into practice? Can you just say “thank you” more often? Do you have to carry around a bulky gratitude journal everywhere you go? Does re-posting a quote about gratitude on your Instagram Stories count?
These are actually really important questions to answer, because according to research, those who practice gratitude feel better and more optimistic about their lives, exercise more, have better relationships, etc.
I believe really strongly in the power of gratitude because incorporating it into my morning and bedtime routines has kinda changed my life (not to be overdramatic). I want everyone to see how easy it is to implement these changes, so I put together this list of ten simple, concrete ways to incorporate more gratitude into your daily life.
Pick a few or just focus on one. Take ten minutes out of your day or ten seconds. Gratitude can improve your life regardless of your lifestyle. Pinky promise!
If you’re up for a big challenge, I’ve put together a a checklist for a full day of gratitude that will give you a big head start on living your life more thankfully. Go big or go home, right? From waking up to gratitude to going to bed with it, and little habits in between, if you follow the entire list there’s no way to NOT have a good day. You can download it at the end of this post!
1. Start each day with gratitude.
If you’re going to really commit to this lifestyle of gratitude, why not start as soon as you roll out of bed in the morning? (Or after you’ve had your coffee). Think of three things that you are grateful for and write them down. They might be very specific, like the perfect temperature of your coffee in that moment, or broader, like having the support of your family You might also look ahead to the day and express gratitude for what you’re excited to do, like watching a movie with friends that evening, for example.
And yes, you should actually write these down. Having to put these thoughts into words will force you think more deeply about them.
2. Keep gratitude in sight at all times.
Whether you want to remind yourself of specific things that you’re grateful for, or simply be reminded to look around you and practice gratitude, surrounding yourself with recurring messages is a great way to re-train your mind. You can change your phone’s wallpaper, or write some messages on post-its and stick them on your mirror or fridge. I made a few wallpapers for your phone that you can download at the end of the post!
3. Make your phone remind you to practice gratitude
The reminders app built into your phone is the simplest way to achieve this. You can set a reminder that simply prompts you to think of one thing that you are grateful for. Try scheduling it for a time of day when you normally feel down or low-energy. Practicing gratitude will give you just the boost of motivation that you need.
4. Challenge yourself to have positive conversations
When we talk to our friends, there’s sometimes this tendency for the conversation to turn into a complaining party. That’s fine once in a while (it’s important to vent and feel heard), but too often these conversations go in circles, turning into a ping-pong game of negativity that doesn’t actually resolve anything or make you feel any better.
Instead, I challenge you to spend your time with friends discussing only positive things. If you’re not sure exactly what to talk about, I have a perfect conversation starter for you. Remember the 3 things you wrote down that you were grateful for this morning? Pull those out and share them! Compare, ask questions, and let the conversation flow from there.
Not only will this help you cultivate more gratitude, but you’ll help the people around you experience those same benefits. Win-win!
5. Take a 1 second a day video of beautiful little moments
If you haven’t heard of a 1 second a day video… It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s like a video diary of your life in which you only get to choose a 1-second clip from each day. At the end of the month, or year, or just whenever you feel like it, you can stitch together all of those clips into a beautiful memory.
In my opinion, the best video app for this is the original “1 Second Everyday” app, although there are others out there and you can certainly figure out how to do this manually!
The point here is not the finished result but the process. Remembering to take a short clip every day helps you to appreciate the little beautiful moments in the everyday. Perhaps it’s a boring and extraordinarily average day, but if you take a video of some flowers during your work break, you’ll learn to appreciate those flowers that you’d never really noticed before.
6. Write a thank you note for someone you appreciate
It’s amazing how easy it is to write a thank you note, and even more amazing to see how much of an impact it has.
Recently, my video teacher allowed some friends and I to use the green room in the photo lab to film a video for an English project. I overheard later that he was frustrated with how many groups were asking him and decided to make a card to express our appreciation. He seemed shocked when we presented it to him, and seeing that made me so happy.
There are probably many people that have recently made a difference in your life. Make sure they know!
7. Write a good review for a product/service that brought you joy
People tend to write reviews only when they have something bad to say, which is sad. We have come to expect great service and great products, and don’t appreciate the work that goes into providing that. Hard-working people and businesses go unnoticed, and the bad reviews stand out!
The next time you are pleased with something you bought, help out a restaurant owner, author, dentist, anyone, by telling the world about your positive experience.
On a road trip last summer I challenged myself to write reviews of all of the food places I visited with my family, and it felt so good to know that my comments were actually being read by people and they were bringing those restaurants a tiny bit of recognition!
8. Make a gratitude jar to capture little moments of happiness
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to continue practicing gratitude is by giving yourself something to look back on. A gratitude journal, for example, is a fun trip down memory lane when you flip back through it. Seeing these memories inspires you to continue taking note of the things you’re grateful for.
In a similar way, a gratitude jar can be an even funner way to relive your memories. You might put a little piece of paper with a single statement of gratitude in a jar for each day of the year, and then open it up and read everything at the end of the year.
9. Learn to view stress positively
Contrary to popular belief that stress is public health enemy number one, research suggests that as long as you view stress as your body’s preparation to face a challenge, the harmful effects of it are actually reduced.
It’ll take some time to retrain your mind to view stress in this way (it might even take some time to convince yourself that this could be true), but there are things you can do to help the process along.
10. End each day with gratitude
Our gratitude has come full circle! I like to end each day by writing down three things I’m grateful for to sort of tie off the bow on a day full of cultivating gratitude.
Writing down those three things helps you to view the day in a more positive light, no matter how challenging it may have been. When you go to bed with those positive memories at the forefront of your mind, you go to bed with a lighter heart and more excitement about the day that awaits you the following morning.
We started this post with a morning gratitude practice and ended with a bedtime one! As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, a fun way to really get a jumpstart on living a lifestyle of more gratitude is to try out all of these tips in one day. Trust me, it’s pretty doable! I put the tips in an order that would made sense and made a checklist to make it easier for you.
TOMORROW (Saturday) I am challenging myself to this “day of gratitude” idea and I’d like to challenge you to do it with me! Just print out the checklist below, follow me on Instagram @theblissbean, and share how you put each tip into practice. I can’t wait for you to join me!
Before you go, tell me one thing you’re grateful for in the comments.
Have a wonderful (and very gratitude-filled) Friday,