“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
The Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
There are many studies highlighting the benefits of keeping a gratitude practice. In a 2015 study on heart failure patients, Mills and colleagues found that gratitude and spiritual wellbeing were related to positive mental and physical health outcomes, ‘with gratitude mediating the relationship between spiritual well-being and improved health’ (Clintok, 2015). A long-term study performed by UCA on the power of gratitude reported that as a result of keeping a gratitude journal and practicing gratitude on a regular basis, 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
20 Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Give thanks and appreciation to yourself. Maybe your relationship with yourself has been rocky and it is hard to feel grateful towards yourself? If it is difficult at first, perhaps think how you would do this for a small child. You might even begin to think about the child within you. Reflect on your qualities, your strengths, your resilience, your achievements and any small steps you are making towards your goals.
- Give thanks, bless or say Grace for your meal. Here are 11 Beautiful Ways to Love Your Lunch.
- Make a collage card or a gratitude board. Choose images and words that speak of gratitude. Be creative – use different colours, textures, art mediums or perhaps create a board on Pinterest.
- Breathe – you are alive! Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the breath is a great way to experience gratitude.
- Read all about it! Goodreads, Gratefulness, and Positive Psychology.com have some great reading lists.
- 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! Papier, Papyrus and Etsy have some beautiful cards to choose from.
- Movement and dance can also be used as a form of gratitude practice. The movements in Dr Deb Kern’s Gratitude Dance help ground you, release tension and open your heart so you can feel more gratitude in your life. Watch the Dancing Gratitude Dance in the Annex and have fun with the World Gratitude Dance .
- Hold a gratitude ceremony: Full Moon Gratitude Ceremony or a Wiccan/Pagan Gratitude Ritual. You can use one of these gorgeous Gratitude: A Thankful Heart candles in your ceremony.
- 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. Reflect on the people who have supported you to take care of yourself. Here is a lovely Meditation on Gratitude and Joy by Jack Kornfield.
- 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. You can find examples on my Gratitude Board.
- 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. The School of Life has a cool set!
- 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. I love these 45 Gratitude Journal Prompts on from Junk to Joy.
For more resources to support your gratitude practice, head on over to my Gratitude Board on Pinterest.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” William Arthur Ward