20 Ways to Practice Gratitude
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie (via Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance).
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
A long-term study performed by UCA on the power of gratitude reported many amazing results. As a result of keeping a gratitude journal and practicing gratitude on a regular basis, the researched showed that people who did so received the following benefits:
- Higher levels of health, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic.
- More likely to have made progress towards important personal goals.
- Higher levels of positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy.
- Better sleep at night and more energy throughout the day.
- Rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks.
- More likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and felt a commitment and responsibility to helping others
- Less likely to judge success in terms of possessions accumulated; less envious of wealthy people; and are more likely to share their possessions
(Reference: UCA, HealthWatch & The Gratitudes)
20 Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Give thanks and appreciation to yourself. Reflect on the things that you like and love: your qualities, your achievements and any healthy changes you are making.
- Give thanks, bless or say Grace for your meal.
- Make a gratitude board. Use images and words that speak of gratitude. Be creative, use different colours, textures, art mediums or create a board on Pinterest.
- Breathe – you are alive! Practice a gratitude breath prayer.
- Read books to learn about how to cultivate gratitude.
- Place a gratitude evocative word card in sight. You can put it on the fridge, on your desk or carry in your wallet. Try this psychosynthesis evocative word exercise to evoke gratitude.
- Use a special object as a seed for gratitude reflective meditation. It could be a crystal, a figurine/ statue, a talisman, a quote on a card or an image.
- Find value, meaning and purpose out of suffering. Think back to a challenging situation which has now become a blessing – how have you found value, meaning and purpose out of your suffering? A helpful book is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
- Thank your body for all it does for you. Treat it with loving kindness. Treat yourself to some beautiful body products, a bath ritual or a massage.
- Send notes, cards and letters of gratitude to show your appreciation. No need to wait until you receive a gift!
- Move and dance to the beat of gratitude. Check out these gratitude dances: Dancing Gratitude and Gratitude Dance
- Hold a gratitude ceremony: Simple Steps Gratitude Ceremony, Montessori Gratitude Candle Ceremony or a Wiccan/Pagan Gratitude Ritual
- Say thanks with a random act of kindness. Check out these 35 Little Acts of Kindness.
- Practice a goodnight gratitude ritual. Just before sleep, share with your partner, family or self, at least one thing you are grateful for today.
- Send a prayer of thanks to people who inspire you and who have touched your life in a meaningful way. Think of your role models, family members, friends, pets or teachers.
- Hold a birthday gratitude ritual/ceremony. What better day to celebrate thanks than the day you were born?! Value your life, your place and yourself as an important part of the whole.
- Make a gratitude garland, tree or jar. Add one a day and watch how gratitude grows.
- Make a gratitude playlist on your iPod. Check out the Timeout NY Top 20 Songs of Gratitude.
- Use daily gratitude cards as a gentle reminder and as a seed thought for meditation.
- Start a gratitude journal. Note at least one thing a day that you are grateful for. Add images, quotes, blessings and be as creative as you like.
For examples of all things mentioned in this 20 Ways to Practice Gratitude list, check out my Gratitude Board on Pinterest.
Sydney counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches.