Giving thanks can make you happier. But like any other healthy habits, even though it is good for us, it can be hard to practice consistently.
Why is gratitude so hard to practice? If we are being honest, it is easy to focus on what we don’t have, our problems and the problems in the world around us. Between the news, social media and even in-person conversations, we are often inundated with negativity. What this means, is that we have to work extra hard to find the good in ourselves and in the world we live in.
Setting an intention to practice gratitude is a commitment to do it even when we don’t feel like it. Gratitude is easy when things are going well, but when problems are piling up, the world seems to be falling apart and we don’t know how we are going to get through the day, it is hard to feel grateful.
It is okay to start small and build slowly. It is also important to recognize that gratitude does not make our problems disappear but it helps them to feel more manageable.
If you are ready to start a gratitude practice, or enhance the one you are already in practice with, here are some suggestions to consider.
4 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with someone in your life by simply writing a thank you note. It may be in response to something they have done or it could simply show appreciation for their impact upon your life. And for a little added touch, make it a handwritten note on pretty paper or a notecard – in this digital age, the extra effort to handwrite the note on stationery will create extra delight for the recipient.
- Thank someone mentally. Perhaps you don’t have time to write a note, thanking someone mentally creates the same benefit for you and sends out a positive energy to those around you, and the recipient of your thanks.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to take a few moments to write down or share with a loved one a few things you are grateful for. Doing this at the beginning of the day sets a positive intention for the day or ending your day with this practice can also provide a lovely opportunity for reflection and giving thanks.
- Count your blessings. Taking time each week to write down your blessings. These could be experiences or events that have occurred during the week that went well for you. As you reflect upon these, notice the feelings that come up for you. It usually results in a smile coming to your face.
If you enjoy writing in a gratitude journal, but sometimes feel stuck for what to write, or you want to expand your gratitude, here are some journal prompts to help.
10 Gratitude Journal Prompts When You Feel Stuck
- What is something you didn’t have one year ago that you are grateful for?
- What piece of furniture are you grateful for?
- What mistakes or failures are you grateful for?
- What is something you are looking forward to?
- Open the door or window and look outside – what is something you are grateful for?
- What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
- What do you like about your job?
- What is something or someone that makes you feel safe?
- Write about some places you have been that you are grateful for?
- What skill(s) do you have that you are grateful for?
This Thanksgiving take the time to make gratitude a part of your experience with the intention to further develop and practice this powerful habit.
If you find your efforts to develop a practice of gratitude are blocked, scheduling a session with one of our therapists may help uncover what is getting in the way.
Call us today at 613-848-3683 and we can help get you moving forward with a grateful heart.
by Mary Joan Brinson MSW, RSW
A Book We Love
The Little Book of Gratitude describes gratitude as a simple, scientifically proven way to increase happiness and encourage greater joy, love, peace, and optimism into our lives.
Easily accessible and available to everyone, the practice of gratitude will benefit every area of your life and generate a positive ripple effect.
This beautiful book discusses the benefits of gratitude and teaches easy techniques to foster gratitude every day. It also includes an 8-week gratitude plan.