It’s easy to forget to stop and look around every now and then.
As we’re racing through life, it’s not often that we take the opportunity to thoroughly engage with our thoughts and appreciate what is around us. Especially when we are coming out of a two-year period that hasn’t been so great to us.
There are many of us who don’t know the first thing about starting to practice gratitude, and a gratitude meditation or a gratitude walk may feel overwhelming when you’re standing int he grocery store after work feeling utterly exhausted.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to significantly improve one’s mental health and overall happiness. It is a great way to check in with yourself and generally be more grateful for the people and things around you. Sometimes the little things are the good things in life, and the easiest way feel their positive effects is to express gratitude for them.
Keep reading to find out 10 different ways that you can start the simple practice of gratitude right now.
10 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude
1. Keep a gratitude journal.
Starting a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to start your journey towards practicing gratitude!
You might decide that you want to write every morning after you wake up or each night before bed. You can follow journal prompts (there are a number of these available online for free!) or simply write a list of things you’re grateful for each day. There’s no wrong way to do it, and it’s an easy way to process the present moment.
Remember, no matter which you choose, the goal here is to focus on positivity and gratitude in your life!
2. Practice random acts of kindness.
Random acts of kindness have long been a way that we show others that we care for and appreciate them. Can you remember how you felt the last time someone did something nice for you out of the blue? Pretty awesome, right?
The crucial part of a random act of kindness is that it is purely for the sake of improving upon someone else’s life, without personal benefit. A popular way to do this is by paying it forward, such as by paying for the order of the car behind you in line at the drive-thru. This is a great way to have a positive impact on both yourself and a random stranger.
Not many people realize how rewarding an experience volunteering can be. It’s one of the few things we can do to be selfless and that can genuinely make an impact.
Personally, I love to give back during the holiday season. At a time known for giving, we often get wrapped up in frenzied Christmas shopping sprees and planning feasts for our loved ones. But we forget that giving also means giving to others who need it most, especially those going through very tough times.
Whether it be giving back to the community or giving to those who need support, volunteering can be a great way to feel gratitude.
4. Show your appreciation.
Has someone done something lately—big or small—that made a difference in your life? You probably thanked them for it… But did you show your appreciation? Did you remember to write a thank you note to the family member who sent you a birthday gift? Or tell your friend what a good time you had with them on your weekend adventure together?
There are so many people in our lives who deserve to be recognized and appreciated. Showing your appreciation can be done in a number of ways. And it doesn’t always have to be through material things, like presents! An expression of gratitude can be a kind word, an act of service, or spending some quality time with the ones you love.
Take time out of your day to appreciate one of those people by telling them just how much they mean to you.
5. End each day with three positive things.
Whether or not you decide to keep a gratitude journal, you can definitely start doing this easy daily task right now! You can put pen to paper, or even keep a running list in the Notes app on your phone.
Did someone say something that made you laugh today? Was the sun shining? Whatever makes you feel at peace, list it. By writing out three positive things that happened each day, you’ll feel lighter and happier, even on the worst days.
6. Say “thank you” more often.
Saying “thank you” might seem like the most obvious thing to do. In fact, you’re probably already doing it. But are you truly being intentional about your thanks?
It’s easy to let those two words become an automatic response that we don’t put much thought into. Start thinking about why you’re thankful and even mentioning it in your thanks. Thank the bus driver for getting you home. Thank the waiter or waitress for their great service. Thank your co-worker for helping you to get that task done. It’s as simple as standing before someone and not only telling them that you are grateful for them but why you are grateful for them.
7. Practice mindfulness.
It’s incredibly easy—and also super harmful—to just coast through the day. Personally, I’ve been catching myself on auto-pilot more and more these days. And you probably have been, too. We go through the routines, we get through the day, and we count down the time until the next event—the weekend, the next month, or even the next holiday.
All the while, we’re missing out on our own lives.
Practicing mindfulness means engaging in small acts throughout your day to ground yourself and be intentional in your actions. Take a few minutes each day to really be in the moment. It’ll significantly improve your mental health!
8. Do yoga.
Yoga has long been promoted as a great way to improve your mental health and overall wellbeing. But did you know that it can also be used as a tool for practicing gratitude?
There are a number of ways that you can inject gratitude into your yoga routine. For instance, you might create an intention that reflects gratitude. You can think of one that means something to you or find a number of resources online that can help you with this! Additionally, yoga creators online have started to create videos that deal with this matter specifically.
9. Create a gratitude wall.
This is one of my personal favorite ways to practice gratitude. If you love to take photos, this one’s for you too! Grab your camera or cell phone and start snapping photos of your friends, family, your dog, or even a beautiful sight you saw on your commute to work. This is a great activity for creative minds or those who like to see things visually.
You can do anything you want with your gratitude wall. There are no rules! You can even add handwritten notes about things you appreciate or daily affirmations that speak to you. This is also the perfect opportunity to let younger kiddos start to partake in the practice!
If you don’t have a lot of wall space, try starting with a gratitude jar. It’s the same practice, just a little bit smaller in scale.
10. Write a letter.
Has someone recently done something that meant something to you, that you want to give them a little love for? Why not write them a letter? A gratitude letter.
A handwritten letter can be a fantastic way to show your appreciation for someone. Make sure to tell your recipient why their actions were so important to you. This can be about a big moment or even a small action that proved important to you. No matter the cause, it will remind you and the recipient about the importance of your relationship to one another!
The benefits of gratitude may not directly impact your physical health, but by letting go of negative emotions and focusing on positive emotions on a regular basis in your everyday life, you may just begin to see huge changes.
The practice of gratitude is a great way to improve your mental health, by engaging in small but intentional actions each day to remind yourself to live in the moment. Next time that you find yourself on auto-pilot, try implementing one of these methods to see how it impacts your daily life!