It’s one thing to talk about gratitude. It’s something else altogether to start practising it. Thankfully, there are a number of specific, proven practices that lead directly to more gratefulness.
Practice #1: Keep a Gratitude Journal
Keeping a gratitude journal is a simple practice with profound effects. By regularly writing down things that you are grateful for, you keep yourself in a highly grateful state. Try to write down at least three things you’re grateful for each day.
When you’re writing in your journal, avoid overcomplicating things. Write down anything and everything that you’re grateful for no matter how big or small:
- Your morning cup of coffee
- Holding your child’s hand
- Your coworker who makes you laugh
- Your car
- A beautiful sunrise
- Having a home
- Friendly, welcoming neighbors
- The smell of fresh-cut grass
The goal for writing your gratitude journal is to be in the habit of constantly noticing things you can be grateful for even if those things seem relatively small and insignificant.
If the thought of writing in a gratitude journal every day seems like too much, write in it once every few days or once a week. Simply try to make it a habit. The more you get into a habit of being grateful, the easier it will be to constantly be grateful.
Practice #2: Recite Gratitude Affirmations
Gratitude affirmations work in two ways. First, you affirm that you’re grateful for things that you have already received. So, for example, you might say something like:
I’m so grateful for all the blessings I’ve received this week. I’m grateful for my new job. I’m grateful for my friendships. I’m grateful for my children. I’m grateful for the delicious meal I ate last night. I’m grateful for the good night’s sleep I got. I’m grateful for this wonderful cup of tea I’m drinking.
These affirmations help you take notice of and be grateful for what you’ve already received. They help you count your blessings so that you’re not ungrateful or discontent.
In addition to affirmations for blessings already received, also consider doing affirmations for things you’re going to receive. By being grateful in advance, you allow yourself to receive things with open hands and you maintain a high state of gratitude.
A “future” gratitude affirmation might look like:
I am grateful for the many blessings that are coming my way today, tomorrow, and every other day in the future. I receive them with open hands. I’m grateful for the physical and spiritual blessings. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ll enjoy and the food I’ll eat. I’m grateful for the money I’ll receive and the way that I’ll be able to use it to achieve much good. I’m grateful for all the good things that are in store for me.
Practice #3: Constantly Say, “Thank You.”
We tend to think about gratitude only when we receive big blessings, but if we really want to cultivate gratefulness in our lives, we must get in the habit of constantly saying, “Thank you.”
Anytime you receive anything good, no matter how small, make a concerted effort to say, “Thank you,” to someone. Instead of only being grateful when you receive big blessings, you’ll find yourself grateful for everything, which will improve your overall mood, which will then make you even more grateful.
Practice #4: Always Find Reasons to be Grateful
In even the most challenging situations, you can almost always find something to be grateful for. This doesn’t mean that you ignore the situation and act like it isn’t hard. It simply means that you look for the good in each situation. Whenever you’re facing a challenge, ask yourself these questions:
- What valuable lesson can I learn from this situation?
- What good thing can come out of this challenge?
- How can this difficulty actually make me a better person?
- In five years, how will I look back on this situation?
These questions can help you identify the good in each situation, including the most challenging ones. Once you’ve identified something good, be thankful for it. Give thanks that it’s making you a better, stronger, more compassionate, more thoughtful, more resilient person. Be grateful that it’s stretching you to be your best possible self.
While being grateful doesn’t necessarily make a bad situation good, it helps you come through the situation a stronger person than ever before. Gratefulness ensures that your best self always emerges from every situation.
Practice #5: Develop an Abundance Mindset
An abundance mindset believes that we live in an abundant universe and that there is more than enough for everyone. A scarcity mindset believes that there’s not enough to go around.
Those who live with a scarcity mindset feel like they need to hoard resources, while those who live with an abundance mindset can gratefully give and receive, knowing there’s enough for everyone.
The more you develop an abundance mindset, the more you’ll be able to cultivate gratitude. You don’t have to worry about having enough. You don’t have to fear running out.
Practice #6: Live in the Moment
Living in the moment means being aware of each moment every day and expressing gratitude for everything that comes your way. Eckhart Tolle says, “Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.” Remember that in each moment, everything is exactly as it should be. Be thankful during each moment.
- As you sit in traffic, express gratitude that you have time to sit and think.
- As you go throughout your workday, express gratefulness that you have a job.
- Before you eat dinner, give thanks for the meal you’re about to enjoy.
- Before you go to sleep, give thanks for your bed and for the refreshing sleep you’re about to experience.
Don’t think about what you would rather be doing or where you would rather be. Rather, fill each moment with gratitude. Live in the moment and savor it.