Practice Gratitude

Although it may not always be easy, being thankful for the good things in your life can be a rewarding practice to pick up. Practicing gratitude has been shown to have real health benefits, boosting people's mood and their personal sense of well-being.[1] You can practice gratitude every day by adopting an attitude that is grateful and open. You can also actively practice and share gratitude with others, and with yourself. Practicing gratitude requires only your attention, and there are many simple methods that you can use to get started today.


Adopting a Grateful Attitude

  1. Focus on the positives. Practicing gratitude will require you to focus on the things in your life that you are thankful for. You'll need to pay attention and look for all the good things in your day and in your life. Seeing all the positive aspects in your life will help you realize just how much you have to be grateful for.[2]
    • Periodically ask yourself something like “What am I grateful for right now?” or “What am I thankful for today?”
    • Be on the lookout for small compliments you might receive or little gestures of kindness from others.
    • Focus on the positives, no matter how small they might seem. This could be a bunch of pretty flowers that you spot on the way to work, or a beautiful sunset in the sky on your walk home. Take a moment to appreciate the positives in your life, even if they seem insignificant.
  2. Be grateful for the little things. Not every good thing in life will be obvious or a big deal, which can cause you to miss a lot of good things in life. Throughout the day, try to think of all the little things that you were thankful for. Chances are, you'll be able to find a lot of small events that will add up to one excellent day. Try to be aware of all the good in your life, big or small, to help you practice feeling grateful.[3][[3]
    • For example, a sunny day with warm weather might be something you're thankful for.
    • Even if it's a rainy day, you might be grateful for the chance to stay at home and clean or enjoy something indoors.
    • Things like having a clean pair of clothes to wear or a comfortable bed to sleep in might be little things you're grateful for.
  3. Keep a balanced outlook. Although you are working to focus on the good things in your life and being thankful for them, you won't want to ignore challenges or negative aspects. Disregarding difficult things and focusing only on the good in your life can cause you to become unbalanced and may even cause trouble in your life. You can still acknowledge a challenge without it bringing you down or preventing you from practicing gratitude.[4]
    • Ignoring a serious issue may actually be detrimental. Try being grateful that you were made aware of an issue or that you have the ability to meet a challenge.
    • You could try thinking about how grateful you are for the support of your friends or family during a tough time.
  4. Be patient. It's okay to feel negatively about tough situations. Remember that life won't always be smooth sailing. If you are having difficulty finding things to be grateful for, don't worry. Take a few moments to relax and find a couple of things that you feel thankful for to help you get back on track. You might even find that a tough time or challenge is something to thankful for itself.[5]
    • If you find yourself being resentful or overly negative, don't let it bother you. Readjust your outlook, try to find at least one thing you are thankful for and resume your practice.
    • It can be difficult to settle into this new way of thinking. Be patient with yourself and don't be too critical if you find yourself being more negative than you'd like.

Practicing Gratitude

  1. Make a list. A great way to keep track of the things you are thankful for is to write them down. Starting a journal or a list can be good method to get you thinking about and focused on all the good in your life. You can also look back at any time to remember all the good things you were thankful for. Try listing the things you are thankful for or writing a daily list to help you practice gratitude.[6][7][8]
    • A journal full of things you have been thankful for will be a great visual reminder of all the good in your life.
    • Feel free to write down anything you are thankful for.
    • Try to write at least three things you are thankful for each day.
  2. Set your intentions. Being grateful will take work and dedication to make it a habit. The world isn't always a perfect or happy place and life can be quite challenging at times. You might also simply be preoccupied with work or family responsibilities and lose focus on your practice. However, setting your intention to regularly practice gratitude will make it easier for you to see the good in any situation.[9][10]
    • Try setting your intention to focus on the good in your life when you wake up in the morning.
    • Regularly expressing gratitude is like trying to make any other behavior a habit and will require your time and practice.
    • Realize that there is no “end goal” to reach. Simply focus on feeling grateful whenever you can or whenever you think of it.
    • The more you practice gratitude, the easier it will become.
  3. Schedule time to be grateful. Picking a time to focus on the things you are thankful for can help you make your practice a habit. Having a schedule can help keep you on track, allowing you to remember your practice even if your day was hectic or you simply forgot. Try to pick a time of day that works best for you to focus on the things that you're feeling grateful for.
    • You can try thinking about the things you're grateful for every morning.
    • Try taking a break around lunch and focus on what you've enjoyed during the morning.
    • Relax at night and think about all the great things that happened during the day.
  4. Reflect on your emotions. Taking a look at how you feel throughout the day will help you keep your focus on being grateful. There may be moments when you aren't feeling grateful at all and taking note of those moments will help you shift your focus. Try to keep an eye on your feelings, thoughts and emotions to help you stay focused on practicing gratitude.[11]
    • If you aren't feeling grateful, try to think of a few things that you are thankful for.
    • Getting up, stretching and moving around a bit can all help you change your focus and get back to feeling thankful.
    • Try to remember a moment that caused you to feel extremely grateful and allow that feeling to return.
  5. Savor the feeling. Whenever you notice yourself feeling grateful, try sink into that feeling and really enjoy it. Let the feeling of gratitude wash over you and allow yourself to realize just how fortunate you are in that moment. Try to focus on the feeling so that you can return to it whenever you're thinking about the things you're thankful for.[12]
    • Let yourself enjoy the feeling of gratitude whenever it comes up.
    • Don't be in a hurry or try to extend the moment of gratitude. Instead, allow yourself to enjoy the feeling as long as it naturally lasts.

Sharing Your Gratitude

  1. Write “thank you” notes. A simple way for you to show your gratitude to others is to write a thank-you note. You don't need to send these notes if you don't want to, writing them can be enough to shift your focus onto the things you are thankful for. Try jotting down a few thank-you notes throughout the day to help remind you about all the reasons you're glad someone is in your life.[13]
    • Feel free to write your notes however you want.
    • Express yourself freely and explore what you love about a person or how much they mean to you.
    • You don't need to write notes about other people. You can try writing yourself thank-you notes as well.
  2. Communicate directly. A great way to share your gratitude with others is to let them know how thankful you are for their presence in your life. Try contacting someone you are grateful for directly and letting them know just how much they mean to you. Letting someone know how special they are can help both of you feel great and share your gratitude.[14]
    • You can try calling someone on the phone, writing a letter or meeting face-to-face.
    • Try talking about something good they've done for you and discuss how it has impacted your life. You may say, "I really appreciate you being there for me during that difficult time. It helped me stay strong and feel supported. Thank you."
  3. Offer prayers. If you follow a particular faith or religious belief, offering simple prayers of thanks can be a great way to practice gratitude. Praying and offering your thanks can be a good way for you to express how much the good things in your life mean and can help you keep a positive and grateful outlook on life.[15]
    • You can pray silently if it makes you feel more comfortable.
    • You can offer prayers of thanks before a meal.
  4. Adopt new habits. You might want to try showing your gratitude in a different way if an old method has become routine. Expressing your gratitude in the same way can get old and lose its impact. To help keep things fresh and interesting, try new ways of showing your gratitude from time to time.[16]
    • You can change the way in which you express your gratitude. You might journal the things you're thankful for and then try talking about them with a friend. Or you may channel your gratitude into doing good acts for others, such as community work, or spend time with a friend who needs support.
    • You can try changing the area of your life that you focus on. For example, you can be grateful for the people in your life one week and then focus on the material things in your life the following week.
  5. Appreciate yourself. Although you may have a lot to be thankful for in your life, you won't want to forget yourself. Taking some time to appreciate yourself can be a great way to practice gratitude and boost your sense of well-being and self-esteem. Try to think about all the things you are thankful for about yourself to help you practice gratitude.[17]
    • Spend a few minutes with your hand over your heart and thank yourself for your hard work and all the things you've done that day.
    • Try thinking about all the challenges you've met and overcome.
    • Take a few moments to look in the mirror and say some nice things to yourself.

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