Starting (and Maintaining) a Gratitude Practice
When was the last time you stopped to give thanks? To REALLY show your gratitude for the people, places, things and moments that made your day better?
I’m not talking here about the expected times when you say it because it is the social norm, like thanking the barista for your morning coffee or the bus driver as you arrive at your stop. In these moments the words leave your mouth, but how much do you really consider your gratitude?
Now I’m not saying the barista and the bus driver don’t deserve to be in your gratitude list (both of these make regular appearances on mine) what I am saying is that they deserve the thought. The care and intention behind the words.
Starting a gratitude practice is a great way to reflect on those things that made a difference in your day.
To start, set aside 5 minutes today to write down 3 things that you are grateful for. They may be specific things that have happened within the last 24 hours. They may be people you are feeling especially thankful for in that moment. They might be big experiences that impacted you in some way. They might be fleeting moments.
Then consider why each one of these things came up for you. Spend a moment rejoicing and reflecting on each one. Smiling is encouraged, whether you are sitting alone in your room or in a crowded spot.
Now repeat this action for the next 7 days. 5 minutes a day, for 1 week, thinking of 3 things. Commit to it for this first week, see how it makes you feel at the end of the first week, then keep going.
It doesn’t need to be fancy – There are plenty of fancy notebooks and guided journals on the market to help you with your gratitude practice. But this practice can also be free. I do suggest keeping them in one place though, whether that’s paper or digital, so you can look back weekly, monthly or yearly.
Stick to one time of day – Whether it’s morning, noon or night, find the time that is easiest and most convenient for you to set aside 5 minutes. Doing it at the same time will help you scheduling for it and making it a habit (whether short or long term).
Share – I highly encourage sharing your gratitude practice with family and friends. You don’t have to share everything. But make it a part of your gatherings with those near and dear to you. If you have weekly or monthly meals with the same group, you could go around the circle and each share 3 things you have been grateful for since the last time you met.