How to change your life with a daily gratitude practice
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation. It’s about focusing on what's good in our lives and being thankful and appreciative for the things we have- whether big or small. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. According to this article gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. (source)
What is a daily gratitude practice?
A daily gratitude practice is based on pausing each day to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted, make note of them and express thankfulness in that moment. It can be a more formal activity, such as journaling, or it can be a very quick an simple activity such a making a note on your phone every day. We’ll get more into how to start a daily gratitude practice in a bit.
Why is a daily gratitude practice important?Gratitude is the practice of acknowledging and appreciating the good things in your life, both big and small. Incorporating a gratitude practice into your daily routine can have a significant positive impact on your life in several ways:
Improve mental health: Gratitude has been linked to improved mental health, including reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Focusing on the positive things in your life can help you feel more optimistic and less anxious about the future.
Increase resilience: Gratitude can also help you become more resilient in the face of challenges. By focusing on what you have rather than what you lack, you can cultivate a sense of emotional strength and resourcefulness.
Better relationships: Gratitude can also help you build stronger relationships with others. Expressing gratitude towards the people in your life can help you feel closer to them and can also make them feel valued and appreciated.
Improve physical health: Practicing gratitude has been linked to improved physical health, including better sleep, lower blood pressure, and reduced symptoms of pain and inflammation.
Increase happiness: Finally, a regular gratitude practice can increase feelings of happiness and well-being. By focusing on the good things in your life, you can cultivate a sense of contentment and joy that can help you feel more fulfilled.
A daily gratitude practice can help you cultivate a more positive outlook on life, build stronger relationships, and improve your overall health and well-being. All of these things combine to form a more meaningful and joy-filled life experience, and that’s what we want for each of you!
How to start a daily gratitude practice
Starting a daily gratitude practice doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Most of us lead very full and busy lives, with lots on the To Do list already, and adding something else sounds exhausting. But by adding this one small thing, you can make all those other things feel more meaningful and valuable. Adding a few moments to pause, reflect and appreciate is a tiny way to improve your positive mindset. Here’s an easy way to start your own daily gratitude practice.
- Keep it simple. Don’t require yourself to dedicate tons of time or make it a complex practice. You don’t need to spend money on an expensive journal or supplies. It’s not necessary and the goal isn’t to create something that’s a burden.
- Be focused. You don’t need to catalog a long list of things you are grateful for, in order to benefit. Focus on 1-3 things. That’s it.
- Start with 5 minutes. Set an alarm to give yourself 5 minutes to pause and reflect on what you are grateful for, in that moment and on that day. It can be as simple as hot coffee or as detailed as something specific that happened that day. Once your practice is steady, you can give yourself a few more minutes, but only if you have the mental space and want to.
- Write it down. Find a place to jot down your gratitude. It can be a plain spiral notebook, a note on your phone or calendar, a printed sheet, or in a fancy, task-specific Gratitude Journal (we love this one by Mal Paper). Do what appeals to you and what you will stick to. If you like to draw, you may choose to sketch what you are grateful for instead. The method of expressing your gratitude is not as important as the practice of noticing and expressing it. Remember that.
- No judgment. Don’t judge the quality of what you are grateful for. The what is less important than the actual act of pausing, noticing, and appreciating from your heart. There is value in being grateful for the smallest things that we often take for granted.
- Be consistent. Practice at the same time every day for 30 days to get yourself in the habit. Schedule just 5 minutes immediately after waking, during your morning coffee, on your lunch break, as an afternoon mental break, or right before bedtime. Find the time that works for your schedule.
Once you are in the habit, you may find yourself writing more thoughts or feelings about the things you are grateful for. You may notice that you have more than 1, 2 or 3 things you want to capture. That’s great! Let your heart and spirit lead what is most useful to you. HOWEVER, if you don’t notice that you are writing more, that’s ok too! (see #4 above) Even practicing gratitude for ONE thing, each and every day will have a net positive effect on your mindset and your daily life.
Tips + Reminders for starting your daily gratitude practice
Meet yourself where you are. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a complex and time-consuming practice if that isn’t feasible in your life.
Start simple. Remember, just noticing and noting ONE thing you are grateful for is enough.
Consistency is key. Put a reminder on your phone or schedule it on your calendar. You only need 5-10 minutes total.
Prepare your body. Take 3 deep belly breaths before you begin reflecting on what you are grateful for in that moment. This will help calm your nervous system and clear your mind.
Gratitude has a way of changing your perspective on the world. Gratitude is a state of mind that can be enhanced through awareness and regular practice. There are lots of ways to demonstrate gratitude, but the key is to practice in whatever way is meaningful to you. Showing thankfulness is a powerful way to change your life for the better. Gratitude tends to have a snowball effect; your attitude of gratitude changes how you show up for others, and thus could change how they in turn show up in the world. Your daily gratitude can positively impact people you don’t even know! Practicing gratitude is a simple choice that can enhance your everyday life and the world around you.
If you want an easy tool to start your own daily gratitude practice, you can download our free printable and use it each evening before bedtime. This gives you a few minutes of reflective quiet time before you sleep and can become a part of your bedtime routine. Light a candle, get some hot (caffeine-free) herbal tea and set your phone timer for 10 minutes to pause, reflect and fill out the sheet. You’ll be prepared for sleep with a positive mind and grateful, joyous spirit.