How to Create a Gratitude Practice

November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year we should recognize the things we are thankful for. Gratitude is important to incorporate into daily habits. I teach gratitude to my students at school and recently shared some tips for the parents in my monthly newsletter.

Why is gratitude important?

Gratitude is the state of being thankful.

Study after study has shown the power of practicing gratitude and how it helps improve happiness, reduce stress, practice empathy, and so much more. Time, Forbes, and Psychology Today are just a few magazines that have published multiple articles on gratitude. Other scientifically proven benefits of gratitude are it improves self-esteem and physical health, reduces aggression, and even helps people sleep better. If setting aside 15 minutes a day can have such a positive impact on your life, wouldn’t you like to try it?

How to start a gratitude journal

The easiest way to practice gratitude is by creating a gratitude journal. There is something about writing things down that helps our brain remember things better than simply reflecting. Plus, it is a good reminder when you go back and read over all of the lists you have made in the past.

Create a gratitude spot

Make a corner in your house your gratitude spot. This can be a favorite chair, your bed, kitchen or anywhere you feel comfortable, and would enjoy spending a few minutes unwinding. It’s better if it’s a quiet place where you can have some alone time. To be honest, sometimes my spot is in my bathtub, because there are few things better than a bubble bath, glass of wine, and reflecting on all the positives from my day.

Buy a journal

I love looking at journals, notebooks, and books that I can fill up with my grateful thoughts and actions. You can use any journal for this practice. A good starting point is this Gratitude Journal. It’s filled with quotes on gratitude, has a day tracker on each page, and space for you to write out your list.

Use colorful pens

Whatever pen you use doesn’t have to be colorful, although it’s pretty fun making a rainbow list (says the elementary school counselor). Buy a pen, or specific pens, that writes well and you enjoy using. My favorite pens are these Paper Mate Felt Tip Pen Writing Pens.

Make it a daily habit

Set a phone reminder to go off at a certain time every night to remind you to spend 15 minutes reflecting on your day. Try to list at least 5 things that made you smile, had an impact on your day, or were little blessings to you. These can be compliments, a work bonus, great report from the doctor, or even getting to eat your favorite food. It doesn’t matter how small it may seem, list it.

Share gratitude with your family

Sharing a gratitude practice with your family is a great way to teach your children about gratitude and help them enjoy the benefits. Here are a few ways you can share gratitude with your spouse, parents, kids, and friends:

  • As a family, take turns sharing positive things from your day (it can be something super tiny like getting a new pencil from the teacher). You can do this at dinner and take turns going around the table.
  • Give at least one compliment daily (this can be directly to a person or sharing your appreciation of something “I love the chilly weather, don’t you?”) then share with one another what compliment you gave and to who.
  • Create a family gratitude jar and write down things you are grateful for throughout the week. At the end of the week, draw a few slips out and read them together. This is a great time to share how that positive thing made you feel.
  • Acknowledge & appreciate each other. Tell your children “thank you” for doing chores without being asked, working hard in school, behaving in a setting that is sometimes a struggle (i.e. “thank you so much for doing the dishes today. That makes me feel appreciated and loved.”)

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What do you do to practice gratitude? Leave me a comment below.