12 Ways to Practice Gratitude

Last week’s blog post, Gratitude Gone Wrong, addressed how sometimes gratitude is misused to deflect or minimize other emotions and to avoid dealing with difficult situations.  This week, let’s shift gears to explore how we can practice gratitude in better ways.

Gratitude isn’t just reserved for the Thanksgiving season.  Feeling grateful can shift our perspective and boost our mood during whenever we feel overwhelmed.  There are a multitude of ways that we can incorporate gratitude in our daily lives:

  1. Write it down. Develop a daily habit of writing down a few things that you can be grateful for, to start and/or end your day on an upbeat note.
  2. Be grateful for the little things. There are plenty of small things to be grateful for each day. A great cup of coffee, the sound of birds in the morning, a smile, a kind word, etc. can all uplift your mood.
  3. Go for a gratitude walk. This is a great way to get out of your head and your house!  Look for things that you can be grateful for while taking a walk. A beautiful tree, a child playing in their yard, a friendly dog, or a nice, cool breeze are all things you could choose to feel gratitude for while outside.
  4. Avoid making comparisons. Be grateful for people and things exactly as they are, without making comparisons.
  5. Tell people you’re thankful.  Let people know specifically what you’re grateful for when thanking them. Whether it’s your colleague for being so supportive or the cashier at the store for their excellent service, tell them thank you.
  6. Enjoy your pet. Pets give us plenty of reasons to feel gratitude. Give your pet some extra attention and affection, which will leave you both feeling really good.
  7. Donate your time, talent, and resources. Invest in charities and causes that make the world a better place. Volunteer at an animal shelter.  Donate money to a shelter for people who are homeless. Participate in a project, such as Habitat for Humanity.  Volunteering and giving back to others does as much for the giver as it does for the receiver.
  8. Have gratitude for yourself. What are you grateful when you look at yourself? Identify your strengths, everything that makes you uniquely who you are, and what you love about yourself.  Thank yourself for being the one and only you!
  9. Write a positive review for a business you appreciate. Business owners appreciate positive reviews and feedback, so, take the time to highlight what you love about a particular business or service.  
  10. Meditate on the things that you’re grateful for. Pause to reflect on what you’re most grateful for to develop an even greater appreciation for it.
  11. Minimize judging and complaining. Judging and complaining are the opposite of gratitude.  Avoid gossiping, dwelling on the negative, and sharing unconstructive criticism and focus on finding and sharing gratitude.
  12. Be thankful at meal times. Be grateful for everything that goes into a meal.  Five thanks for everyone, from the farmers to the person who prepared the meal, for the process of harvesting the food and bringing it to the table, and for the food itself.

Practice gratitude on a regular basis and you will find more and more to be grateful for each day.  During challenging times, you may have to look really hard to find something to be grateful for, and sometimes, you may not be able to find anything at all.  That’s okay, because there is always something to be grateful for, and when you are ready, it will be there.

That’s another story . . .

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