THE ULTIMATE GRATITUDE GUIDE
March, 24, 2021
Gratitude is an emotion, a mood, a character trait, a guiding force, a lifestyle - gratitude is everything. There are so many benefits to gratitude, including mental and physical benefits. The beautiful thing about a gratitude practice is that the practice is unique to you. You are able to find what works for you, and harness the power of gratitude to increase your happiness, and unlock the joy it can bring to your life. It is not a cure-all solution, but rather a positive way to view life and recognize the beauty of everything you have been given.
Gratitude opens the door for connection, with both other people and with ourselves. The stronger our gratitude practice is, the more in-tune we are with our lives which lets our ability to connect with others and ourselves grows exponentially.
WHAT IS GRATITUDE?
Gratitude can be defined in many ways, but at its core, it is defined as “the expression of appreciation for what one has.”
In recent years, gratitude has gained so much traction in our society due to the benefits of the practice. More and more, we are discovering how powerful gratitude can be in our lives. You can dedicate as little or as much time as you’d like to a gratitude practice, but it is undeniable that it has the power to change your life.
Gratitude was traditionally used as a fundamental practice in religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, and stems from the Latin word
Gratitude was traditionally used as a fundamental practice in religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, and stems from the Latin word gratus which means ‘pleasing, thankful’.
In early 2000, psychologists began researching and studying the emotion of gratitude to explore its benefits and how it can have an impact on our lives.
Gratitude can motivate our behavior and interactions with others, change how we see ourselves and the world, guide how we think and react, and even has the power to rewire our emotions.
HOW TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Gratitude is so versatile, and you can practice gratitude in many different ways. Many people have experienced benefits from a gratitude journaling practice, but there are so many other ways we can practice gratitude, too.
Here are our 30 simple ways to practice gratitude daily, weekly, monthly, and consistently.
- Make gratitude journaling a habit
- Send a letter to someone to let them know you are thankful for them
- Go for a walk outside
- Write a list of all the people who you love
- Give yourself three compliments
- Spend quality time with someone you love without distractions
- Take a mental inventory of all the possessions in your home you appreciate
- Take a workout class and thank your body when you’re finished
- Challenge yourself to thank every person you talk to during the day
- Send someone a text of appreciation
- Say a prayer or name 3 things you are thankful for before a meal
- Meditate on 3 good things that have happened to you that week
- Write a nice review online for a business
- Volunteer in your community
- Watch TED Talks or motivational videos on gratitude
- Donate ten old items to a local shelter
- Do a random act of kindness for someone in your family
- Give a compliment to a stranger
- Go a full day without complaining or gossiping
- Go through old pictures and name something about them you are grateful for
- Spend time in nature without your phone
- Read a list of gratitude affirmations out loud
- Read a positive self-help book
- Hug someone you love
- Practice self-love and do something you enjoy
- Call your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle or mentor
- Tell your partner or a close friend 5 things you love about them
- Enjoy a delicious meal or dessert and be fully present in your appreciation for it
- List 3 things you are grateful for when you wake up
- Smile at every stranger you meet
The beautiful thing about gratitude is that it can be found in any circumstance if only you remember to look for a reason to be grateful. Challenge yourself to focus on the good in something or someone, and bring awareness to how many times you feel gratitude during the day.
Eventually, as you cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your life, it will become second nature to you. Thankfulness and appreciation will flow out of you and gratitude will ensure you notice more and more beautiful things about your life.
TIPS FOR YOUR GRATITUDE PRACTICE
A gratitude practice does take effort and time, which means it may take a while to find your flow and routine. Remember to give yourself grace as you work through the practice and keep these five tips in mind as you begin.
Select a style that is a good fit for you.
A gratitude journal is one of the most popular tools for your practice, and for good reason. There are so many incredible journals out there meant to guide you through your gratitude practice, and while they may operate the same way, they are all very unique. Some have straightforward prompts, some are composed of lists, some multiple pages for a 2-a-day entry, but they all offer the same benefit: a personalized way to practice gratitude.
If a journal is not a good fit for you, you can opt for a list, in an app on your phone or in a notebook. This is a straightforward way to record things you are grateful for, and is a great option if you do not need as much structure as a gratitude journal offers.
Find a time that works with your routine.
Find a time when you will not be distracted and can give your full attention to your practice. All you need is a few minutes, any time of day. There is no right or wrong time. Some people have their gratitude practice first thing in the morning to start their day on a positive note of reflection. Others choose to practice at night, so they can log the blessings of the day. No matter which time you choose, consistency is key.
Get Creative with Your Entries.
You can be precise, you can be descriptive, you can just jot down a few nouns - but there is room to include other things! Maybe you want to tape a concert ticket to a page in your journal, to remind yourself of the memories. Maybe you took a walk that day and want to press the wildflower you found into the pages. If you use a digital tool, you can upload a photo in place of a tangible object to serve as a reminder. Your practice can move beyond words if that speaks to you and you are able to use tangible items or powerful visuals to work through your practice.
Don’t write down negative thoughts.
The purpose of this exercise is to focus on the positive and reflect on the purity of the beauty of life. That said, sometimes negative situations yield gratitude in us. These can serve as a powerful reminder that even in darkness, we can find reasons to be grateful, and if you feel called to write about that one day, that is okay, too.
It is important to note that we absolutely can be grateful for negative things. Challenges and obstacles are how we grow, so while you practice, be sure to keep this in mind too. We do not need to ignore the darkness or hardships in our lives as we journal but instead find a way we are being blessed even in the midst of adversity.
Remind yourself of the benefits.
The reward is often what propels us forward. We work hard at our jobs for the Friday paycheck. We read self-help books to expand our minds. We call our friends to laugh and strengthen the bond. A gratitude practice comes with many rewards. It will yield a more grateful heart which also brings a more joyful spirit, it will make you more positive and productive, it will decrease your stress levels, it will center and ground you, and it will fight depression and anxiety.
Let yourself be a human!
Sometimes, practicing gratitude every single day is not what you need, and you might instead practice giving yourself grace. Maybe you need a day to complain, cry, vent, or let your mind be blank. If you miss a day, two days, or even a week, this is completely okay. You have not failed. You are human! Silence the little voice in your head that says you messed this up and realize that every person who ever lived has “messed something up.” What defines you is your ability to start back up despite the bumps along the way.
WHY IS GRATITUDE IMPORTANT?
Gratitude is everything. It is the most powerful and highest vibrating emotion.
Gratitude is so powerfully important because it brings awareness and focus to the many gifts, blessings, and relationships that make your life rich. How can we focus on our sadness when we pour conscious energy into our blessings? If you are always seeking more, will you ever be satisfied with what is before you? Gratitude turns that question upside down, with the simple practice of acceptance and recognition, and then rejoices in that practice. This practice keeps us humble and helps us see the positives in our lives that we may have lost sight of otherwise.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE
Gratitude has the power to impact every aspect of your health, including your social health, your mental health, your physical health and your happiness health.
Your social health:
Gratitude provides your relationships with fuel. When you appreciate someone, you can’t help but show it with words and actions, usually without even thinking about it. You long for more time with them, you find yourself putting them before you, you remind them how important they are to you, and you express love to them more often. Appreciation is not only strengthened for this person, but you can learn it and grow it. In return, your relationships are strengthened, taking your bond with another person to a deeper level.
Your mental health:
There are many positive mental side effects from practicing gratitude. You feel happiness above all, but you also feel calmness, optimism, energy, kindness, patience, and connection with others. Most importantly, it fosters self-love, and you will find that being your own best friend, supporter and cheerleader is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Your physical health:
A grateful heart translates to less anxiety and stress, especially from when it is sourced from things outside of your control. Ultimately, this is a feeling of happiness and joy. We know how harmful stress can be on the body, and the toll it takes on our bodies physically. Combat that stress by practicing gratitude. Stress and anxiety cannot always be melted away, but this practice is sure to ease some of the negative feelings brought on by these damaging emotions.
Your happiness health:
Have you ever found yourself watching a video on social media about someone who was in a tough spot, and someone else took the initiative to do something good for them in a viral-worthy way? In the video, both parties are expressing gratitude for this experience, and in turn, you find yourself feeling warm and fuzzy, too. This happiness is a direct result of gratitude, and practicing gratitude on a daily basis will help you achieve joy more often. Joy is not something that always comes easy, and it is something to be strived for, but so worth it when it is earned and practiced.
Gratitude is truly all around us. We see it in the people we love and how they treat others. We see it in strangers through small, thoughtful gestures. We see it in our own lives, and all the wonderful gifts that life gives us every single day. We see gratitude in the small things as well as the big, monumental moments. We have so much to be grateful for and hope you are inspired to pursue an attitude of gratitude in your life!
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