The holidays are behind us which, thankfully (no pun intended), means all the cliche articles and posts about “giving thanks” have gone the way of last year’s fad. There’s a blessing in there – being rid of false and over-played exhortations of practicing gratitude – but there’s also a troubling pattern. The only time we raise the issue is when the calendar marches it across our desk.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Truth is, there’s an exhaustive list of reasons – both scientifically backed and those that are just “plain old good sense” – as to HOW practicing gratitude positively enhances our lives when practiced every single day of the year. Amy Morin does a great job of listing some of these out in her article for Forbes. Her list includes:
- BETTER RELATIONSHIPS,
- IMPROVED PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH,
- BETTER SLEEP,
- ENHANCED SELF ESTEEM,
- REDUCED AGGRESSION, AND
- INCREASED MENTAL STRENGTH.
Brené Brown, well known author and researcher, shares this in her Power of Vulnerability course: “I have never in 12 years interviewed a single person who describes themselves as joyful, their lives as joyous, or described the ability to lean into joy who did not actively practice gratitude.”
I’m no idiot. Sign me up. But how do we DO gratitude? Here are 5 ways you can incorporate the practice of gratitude in your daily routine.
How to DO Gratitude
In her book, The Magic, Rhonda Byrne provides 30-days of exercises to build your gratitude muscle. For those looking to seriously transform a life by bringing in more of what you desire, I highly recommend her book. Building on the universal law of attraction and “that which you focus on expands“, she gears each exercise, or practice, to play right into the wheelhouse of this truth.
But for those looking for a quick hit on how to begin practicing gratitude, here are 5 of my personal favorites. Ones I can vouch for and practice myself:
- Reflect. Pretty simple, yes? But how many of us actually take the time to reflect on what we are grateful for each day? We may take a moment to fist pump our latest win as we scurry through our day, but bringing intentional awareness to what occurred in our day is essential to the practice of gratitude. At the beginning or end of each day, write down 5 things you are grateful for and WHY you are grateful for them. Understanding and articulating the “WHY” is an essential component in attracting more of the same.
- Share One Compliment Daily. Gratitude shouldn’t stand solely as a self-reflective exercise. Put the power of positivity to use and share one compliment (or gratitude) daily. The key is to be specific. No, “Nice job on that call, Karen.” Snooze. Instead, be clear and share why it had a positive impact on you or another. For example, “Karen, I really appreciate the way you handled that call with our customer. Your ability to listen and empathize made them feel heard and let them know how important they are to us. Thank you for embodying our values so well! It had a tremendous impact on my day, and theirs.”
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is “thank you,” it will be enough.”
- Bring it Home. Find ways to incorporate gratitude into your family life. The dinner table is always a great place to share gratitude with one another as it’s often the only place everyone is together and focused. My family holds weekly family meetings to discuss issues important to us and to plan out our week. At the beginning of each meeting, we share what it is that we appreciate about one another.
- Remember Yourself. We often turn our gratitudes out onto others as it’s easier and more comfortable for us to praise those outside ourselves. But practicing gratitude where we acknowledge our value is just as important. If not more so. Especially in times of difficulty, look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself what it is about you that you are thankful for. Even in the depths of despair, you can find something. Being appreciative of your own vulnerability is one of the strongest stances I’ve ever seen.
- Commit, Don’t Quit. People often pick up the practice of gratitude in times of struggle as it’s such a well-known tool for turning the tides. The pitfall to starting at a time like this is the tendency to drop the practice as soon as those tides do begin to shift. Why we drop our strongest tool in times of success, I’ll never know. And, yes, I’m as guilty as everyone else. The ask here is that you resolve to STAY with the practice during all phases of life. And it’s okay to recognize that you’re human and that you won’t always want to do it. On those days, simply be grateful for showing up to do the work along with the commitment and resolve it demonstrates.
Putting It All Together
“What you think,
What you feel,
What you imagine,
Adopting a daily gratitude practice is not only a life-enhancing maneuver, it’s smart. And it is, without a doubt, a competitive edge. Whether you’re seeking to turn things around or continue the trajectory you’re on, I highly recommend you put gratitude to work by putting it to practice.
If you have a story to share about how practicing gratitude transformed a life, a relationship, or a circumstance, please share!