As November rolls around, we're lighting our first fires of the season, finding our coziest sweaters, and thinking about what we're thankful for. But we shouldn't just take stock of the things to be grateful for in our lives once a year.
There are many powerful benefits to making gratitude a part of your daily life year round, even after you've successfully roasted the turkey and eaten too much pie. Practicing gratitude can not only help to boost your mood, it can help train your brain to see the positive more often, reducing daily stress, anxiety, and frustration. A regular gratitude practice can help to increase your empathy levels, help you feel more empowered and confident, and teach you to recognize the things you already have.
Gratitude is also great for your physical health. It can decrease everyday aches and pains and help to improve your sleep. Overall, a regular gratitude practice makes you more resilient. Here’s how to get started building your own daily gratitude ritual.
#1: HAVE A GRATITUDE NOTEBOOK
Choose a notebook you find beautiful where you can track your gratitude practice. Having something inspiring makes you all that more likely to stick to your ritual. Keeping your gratitude journal all in one place allows you to look back through your entries when you might be feeling a little down and need a reminder of what brings you joy.
#2: CREATE A ROUTINE SURROUNDING YOUR GRATITUDE
Routines are a great way to ensure that you actually stick to your gratitude practice, making it an important part of your every day. Whether you choose to do it before you fall asleep each night or over a cup of morning tea, try to make it a part of something you’re already doing each day. Set some expectations surrounding your gratitude practice, so you know what to expect. It might be 5 minutes of reflecting on your gratitude, or you might write down three things you are grateful for each day. If you truly want to progress your gratitude, you can continue to increase the time or number of things that you write.
#3: TAKE A MOMENT TO CENTER YOURSELF
Before you try to dive into your gratitude practice, take a moment to center and calm yourself. Clear your mind and take a couple of deep breaths. Keep in mind that this practice is supposed to be enjoyable. Taking a moment beforehand to ensure that you are comfortable will help you to get more out of the practice, rather than feeling like it’s something that you are rushing through, or just another thing on your to-do list.
#4: GET SPECIFIC
Gratitude doesn’t have to be huge, and one of the ways to enhance your gratitude practice is by focusing on all the little details and learning to appreciate them. Rather than saying that you’re thankful for the nice weather, think about describing the temperature, the quality of the light, or the scent in the air. Rather than saying you’re thankful for your family and their characteristics, try to focus on a specific act they've undertaken that you are thankful for.
#5: FOCUS ON FEELINGS
Gratitude is about more than the actual thing or person that you’re grateful for: it’s about how it makes you feel. Don’t be afraid to dive a little deeper into the experience, thinking about the emotions that it brings up. Does it make you feel cared for? Safe? Excited? Gratitude is a personal experience, so thinking about how each entry makes you feel and why you are grateful for it is a way to become more connected with what you consider to be blessings in your life.
#6: WRITE ABOUT PEOPLE, THINGS, AND EXPERIENCES
Once you’re in a routine of practicing gratitude, it can be easy to fall into a trend of focusing on only one type of thing that you are grateful for. Don’t be afraid to diversify by focusing on physical items, people, and experiences. This will help train your brain to notice all those lovely little things in an otherwise ordinary day.
#7: SHOW YOUR GRATITUDE
Write a letter to a loved one (whether you mail it or not), write a love letter to yourself, or give back through volunteering to demonstrate your appreciation. Gratitude doesn’t need to only be reflective; extending it to others gives you all that much more to be grateful for.
GRATITUDE PROMPTS TO GET YOU STARTED:
My favourite quality about myself is ________.
I am looking forward to ______________.
I loved the weather today because_________________.
The accomplishment I am most proud of is ______.
My favorite spot in my home is ______.
I am thankful to live where I do because __________.
Something that made me laugh today was _________.
The hobbies that bring me the most joy are _________.
I am thankful to have known __________.
My favorite childhood memory is __________.
The littlest thing that made me smile today was ___________.
My favorite vacation ever was ___________.
The song that makes me happiest right now is ___________.
My favorite smell is _________.
The most recent thing I bought that made me the happiest was ________.
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