Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have. ~Unknown
Robert Emmons, noted researcher in the psychology of gratitude, was asked what were the three key things he wanted people to know about gratitude. “First, the practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. Second, this is not hard to achieve–a few hours writing in a gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more. Third, cultivating gratitude brings other health effects, such as longer and better quality sleep time.”
25% happier by practicing gratitude? Then, a little time journaling our appreciation for long lasting effects along with better health? That’s a pretty good deal for the amount of effort.
Practicing gratitude is easy to do but can also be easy to put off. But, expressing and practicing gratitude makes a big difference in our life and the lives of others.. Get into the gratitude habit and experience the results.
What’s important is to practice on a regular basis.
Below are ten easy ways to kick it into gear and make gratitude a part of your life. Choose the ones that resonate with you and get started.
1. Put reminders (visuals) around your home. Write “Thank You” on a small river rock and before making the bed each morning, put it on your pillow. At night, as you pull back the covers, you’ll see this little rock and remember things during the day for which you are grateful. A warm comfortable bed is one of them. Posters, framed cards, or sticky notes placed in special places provide wonderful reminders.
2. Take a few minutes a day to journal. Sometimes the list is simple and short while other days you may really get in to it and even include the ‘why’ of it. “I’m grateful for my body. Through it I experience the world.” “I am grateful for the tree out my window…adding color, beauty and shade, to watch how the leaves flutter in the wind and giving place for the birds to rest and sing their song.” Then there is the ‘list’: “Restful sleep, appointments today, money in the bank, coffee.” See if you can come up with different things as you go along – recalling ordinary events and things, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life.
3. Say “Thank you” as often as possible. One day, just to bring awareness to the practice, put 10 pennies in your pocket. The goal is to say “Thank you” at least 10 times in the day and move a penny from one pocket to another each time. This is actually a lot of fun. Those pennies in your pocket will be a great reminder and increase your happiness. Or, forego the pennies and simply set out with the intention to say “Thank You’ as often as possible.
4. Write “Thank You” notes: I once worked for a company and everyone was encouraged to take time on Fridays to write “Thank You” notes to each other, clients and vendors. I looked forward to Fridays and it was such a good reminder of how many people contribute to our lives on a regular basis. Pick a day a week or once a month and write from your heart.
5. Text…out of the blue, to someone saying something like: “Thinking of you. Thank you for being my friend.” This one gets an almost immediate response: “You made my day. Thank you.” Or text: “Thanks for getting my coffee this morning. You are sweet.” By sending these messages, you’re spreading happiness along the way.
6. Share gratitude at dinner time. This is a routine that contributes to family togetherness and closeness. It has kids (and the adults as well) focus on the good and helps them practice verbalizing the positive. Ok, you’re also creating happy juices to aid digestion.
7. Write a prayer of gratitude. This practice is powerful and puts everything in perspective. Use your own words, maybe even thoughts from your gratitude journal to inspire you. Wondering what a gratitude prayer sounds like? Here’s an example.
8. Write a gratitude letter and personally deliver: Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology, developed this exercise, in which you think of someone who has made a powerful impact on your life, write a letter of gratitude, and then visit and read it to them in person. You can mail it too, but actually doing it in person is one of the most powerful gratitude practices you can do; it is literally life-changing for many people!
9. Thanks for struggle and adversity. This is not always an easy one but immensely rewarding. When something is happening that is negative, a good question to ask is, “What can I be grateful for in this situation?” What is the possible positive side of this?” Looking for the blessing during trying times is one of the deepest ways of practicing gratitude.
10. Give Back: Generously give of your time, energy, attention and money, in a way that genuinely reflects your integrity and supports you. This is a powerful way to express your gratitude by giving of your talents and gifts.
Bonus: Register for our Art of Appreciation ECourse! This is a fun, inspiring journey that will bring a perspective of gratitude into you daily life. Through the daily, creative and though-provoking activities, the depth of your gratitude and happiness will grow and become a way of looking at life. We make it easy to develop a habit of gratitude.
Have a day filled with gratitude and good things.