5 Practical Ways to Cultivate Gratitude
The holidays are upon us — and ’tis the season (hopefully) to give a little extra thanks for all of the wonderful things you have in your life.
We’re here to remind you, though, that gratitude doesn’t have to be seasonal. Cultivating habits that inspire you to be more thankful on a daily basis is worthwhile all year ’round… and science proves it. Psychology Today notes seven proven benefits to gratitude. Thankfulness creates opportunities for more relationships, improves physical and psychological health, enhances empathy, reduces aggression, aids sleep, raises self-esteem, and boosts mental strength. And since most of us are regularly seeking to capture at least one of these benefits, we suggest that you give regular gratitude a second look, even outside of the holiday season.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of five simple, practical ways you can start to work gratefulness into your routine on a regular basis. Keep scrolling for all the details. And hey — thanks for reading!
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Spend the first or last five minutes of each day with your phone hidden away and a pen in your hand, putting to paper all of the things that you’re thankful for in the given moment. Items in your gratitude journal can be anything from a great walk with friends to a new favorite movie to a delicious dessert. Nothing is too big or too small to recognize! The point is to make the time daily to physically acknowledge all of the positive things you have happening in your life, outside of what others have that might otherwise tug at your more competitive side.
2. Find an accountability partner. You can make an accountability partner work for you in many ways! Schedule time every evening to swap notes on what you’re most grateful for with your partner. Commit to texting your closest friends twice a week with your gratitude list. Share thankfulness with your kids as you’re tucking them into bed at night. Identify the people in your life who you’d most like to focus on gratitude with, then figure out how to best work that into your collective schedule. We promise — the time is there!
3. Write thankful notes and letters (or texts!). As you consider the friends, loved ones, and colleagues who make the biggest difference for you, take another step and let them know about their impact. Your message doesn’t have to be lengthy or sentimental. A simple note to a friend expressing your appreciation for their support during a tough time or an intentional text to your neighbor thanking them for making your block a friendly place to live will do the trick.
4. Fill your camera roll. We know you have your phone on you more often than not, which means you’re also equipped with a camera 24/7. Stop snapping screenshots of Instagram posts and saving GIFs and instead focus on collecting images of things you come across that fill you with gratitude. Grab a photo of that yummy cup of coffee you had this morning or of the sneakers that made it possible for you to take a beautiful hike. Images like this might not be particularly social media-worthy (or maybe they are!), but they’ll help you multiply your gratitude every time you scroll through your phone.
5. Open the conversation with thankfulness. As you gather with friends and family in the weeks and months ahead, see if you can take the lead on the conversation, cutting through the gossip and focusing instead on what you can be grateful for as a group. If everyone’s open to it, you can encourage each person to share a personal list, too. Cultivating this kind of tradition at your events will set a positive tone wherever you go.