By now, most of us have heard about the research supporting the many benefits of gratitude (see UC Davis Psychologist Robert Emmons.) How about doing your own gratitude research? Here’s 8 simple gratitude practices you may want to experiment with:
- I make a practice of feeling grateful when I sit down with my morning coffee. As I feel the smooth warm cup in my hands and smell the coffee, I take a moment to remember how lucky I am to be starting another beautiful day. Seven years ago I was very sick, and although I don’t wish that on anyone, I do wish that others could experience daily the joy of knowing you have the gift of another day. You may want to reframe “wake up and smell the coffee” literally to create a ritual that brings you joy as you immerse yourself in gratitude, setting yourself up for a great day.
- Why do so many people like the sunrise and sunset? The colours and magnificence can be breathtaking, and amidst this beauty we can choose to be present in the moment with a sense of gratitude. Using that golden time of day to reflect on what you are grateful for, is powerful.
- We can use another trigger like our pillow as a daily reminder for gratitude. When your head hits your pillow each night and/or before you take your head off your pillow in the morning simply ask yourself “what specifically am I grateful for today?”
- A gratitude journal where you can write daily about the gifts, benefits, grace, and good things you enjoy is another great practice. Writing helps us magnify and expand upon these sources of goodness, even if they are associated with otherwise ordinary events, challenges or your personal attributes. Setting aside time on a daily basis helps thread together a sustainable life theme of gratefulness, that is decidedly affirming.
- Giving thanks before each meal or sharing around the dining table what each person is grateful for also reinforces a sense of gratitude. Sharing a gratitude practice as a family can be very powerful.
- I live downtown and hear a lot of sirens. When I hear a siren, I feel a sense of gratitude for our first responders and the health and security of those around me. As a child whenever we were starting a car trip my dad would take a moment to express his gratitude. Instead of complaining about bad weather, I try to remind myself how grateful I am to have a warm place to stay.
- I have a stack of thank you cards, and when I send one, or even better hand deliver one, I feel great. Finding someone’s address, a stamp and mailing a card can be time consuming but it’s worth it. Sending a personalized, heartfelt email to express gratitude can be meaningful too. Attaching an image to the email words contributes to that warm, fuzzy feeling we get or as Richard Boyatzis would call a Positive Emotional Attractor.
- I’ve recently started a gratitude jar and I write down things I am grateful for as they come up and put them in the jar. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in gratitude at the end of the year when I empty the jar to read them all.
We can make room for more gratitude in our lives when we become aware of might be getting in our way. Blaming others can form a strong resistance against gratitude. People who think of themselves as victims often get mired in their resentment and are unable to appreciate what life has to offer them, thereby shrinking their capacity for gratitude. Feeling entitled, getting “too busy” to be aware, and simply taking things for granted all inhibit gratitude, so be aware!
Gratitude creates happiness and happiness leads to success which can then perpetuate itself. What are your gratitude practices?