10 Easy Ways to Create a Gratitude Practice
In our busy world, with so much competing for our time, we can sometimes forget to express our gratitude for what we have. Even when we're stressed and feeling as if we have so little, there is always something for which to be grateful. So in the spirit of gratitude, I thought I would share my favorite ways to incorporate a gratitude practice in everyday habits so that we don't forget - because life is a series of energy exchanges - the more positive energy we put out, the more that comes back to us and brightens our lives, the lives of those close to us, and our world.
So, here we go, my top 10 easy ways to create a gratitude practice:
1. Morning Coffee Gratitude. One of the best ways to start your day off right is to spend a few minutes thinking of all the things for which you’re grateful. While you’re having your first cup of coffee, sit back and think of the things that you’re thankful for. You can even start out by feeling gratitude for the following:
The warmth of the coffee mug you’re holding;
The aroma of the coffee;
That first sip of coffee;
The beautiful morning;
The beginning of a new day full of promise;
The quiet just before the day officially starts.
2. Gratitude Trigger. Place an object somewhere in your house or workspace which will remind you to feel grateful each time that you look at it. It can be a little sign that says “Thank You” hanging in front of your desk or a doormat with the word “Welcome” written on it to remind you to be grateful each time that you arrive at home.
3. Gratitude Partner. Find someone, it can be a friend or a family member, and share what you’re grateful for with each other. You can feed off of each others’ ideas. In addition, if the other person knows you well they can remind you of things you may be leaving out or things you’ve forgotten.
4. Wake Up or Go-to-Sleep Gratitude. Another way to incorporate gratitude as a practice is to set aside a few moments when you wake up in the morning/before you get out of bed or a night before you fall asleep to name something for which you're grateful. It only takes a few seconds, but it can become the perfect way to end or begin the day!
5. Gratitude Letter. Sit down and write a letter to someone who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. This can be a teacher or a mentor from your past, a grandparent, or anyone else who helped you in some way. It also does not have to be someone living - there are many that have passed that have influenced us and to whom we owe much gratitude! The letter doesn’t have to be long, but make sure that you’re specific about what the person did and how it affected you.
6. Gratitude Charm Bracelet. Get yourself a charm bracelet and choose charms or trinkets that are meaningful to you. For example, you could have the following charms:
A heart to symbolize your significant other;
Figurines to represent different family members;
An apple to represent health;
A dollar sign to symbolize financial serenity;
A charm that represents your current profession; and
A charm that makes you laugh to represent humor and joy.
Each time that you see your charm bracelet you’ll be reminded of how much you have to be grateful for.
7. Gratitude Inventory. Create a list of 100 things that you’re grateful for. If it helps, divide your list into different categories, such as assets (things you own), people (your relationships), qualities (personal qualities and character traits), experiences (place you’ve visited and things you’ve done), and so on.
8. Four Questions. A great way to bring things that you’re grateful for to the forefront of your mind is by asking yourself questions. At the end of each day, ask yourself the following four questions:
What touched me today?
Who or what inspired me today?
What made me smile today?
What’s the best thing that happened today?
9. Gratitude Journal. The practice of keeping a gratitude journal was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book, “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy”.
Before going to bed each night, write a list of five things about that day for which you’re grateful. Some days you’ll have exciting things to write down, and some days you’ll be writing down simple joys.
10. Spread Gratitude! Make a point to thank those that serve you - clerks, check-out staff, etc., with sincere words. Be kind to those you see struggling by offering to help load their groceries or get an item off the shelf. A kind word goes a long way. A kind act is long remembered.
I use several of these practices to make sure I am living in gratitude and remaining "in the present." I also believe that we were put on this Earth to shine our lights - to bring light and hope to everyone we meet or influence. What better way to spread the light than to be the light?