The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. And gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: Sure, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie.
Here are a few easy ways to help you start practicing gratitude today:
One of my favorite ways to invite in gratitude is the practice of keeping a simple spiral notebook where you write a list of 3-10 things you’re grateful for each day. You can do this in the evening right before you go to bed or during a break in your afternoon. This list can be anything you’re grateful for, you don’t have to stick to what’s happened that day.
A great gift idea is to give a loved one a journal and invite them to start writing their own gratitude lists. You could even start the journal with a list of reasons why you’re grateful for them, and then explain that you hope they will start keeping their own journal.
When my husband and I were dating, we started a journal that we both used to write love letters. It is a sweet practice that helps you to feel closer to your beloved but more importantly it gently pushes you to really think about inviting in more love and gratitude in your life together. Schedule at time that works for the both of you. Writing as little as weekly or monthly can make a big difference in your relationship and level of gratitude.
Another daily practice that brings in gratitude is writing a thank you note. Think about how different each day might feel if you began it with letting someone else know that they’ve made your life better?
You could write to a friend or family member, to a co-worker, to someone who helps you each day, like a barista or the janitor at work. Consider someone you look up to, even someone famous, to say thank you for the work they offer to the world. Use postcards to help you keep the notes short and sweet.
Another practice you could try is to use your camera to collect daily evidence of the gratitude you experience in your life. This is really easy to do with your camera phone, and you might already do this when you post to Instagram and other social media sites. Try to make it an actual practice though where you actively seek moments full of gratitude and snap a photo capturing that moment. This could be as simple as your cup of tea at the beginning of the day when the house is still quiet to a self-portrait of you standing outside under a blue sky to a photo of your children curled up reading together. Find those moments that cause joy and thankfulness to bubble up.
Remember to print them. Get those photos out of your phones and camera and into tangible form. Then create photo journal. Simply tape the pics into a binder and write a few words about why you’re grateful. A journal like this is beautiful to look through on the days when gratitude and joy feel far away.
As you go into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and whatever is on your calendar right now, give yourself the gift of slowing down and noticing the simple ways gratitude appears in your life each day.