Practicing Gratitude: How to Practice Gratitude
How to practice gratitude: A simple guide
It can be easy to get bogged down in life’s negatives, but there is also a lot we have to be thankful for.
Practicing gratitude can positively impact your outlook on life, helping us to seek out the good in the world and other people, and never take anything for granted, making us stronger individuals ready to tackle life with a renewed vigour.
In this simple guide, we’ll look at what gratitude means, the benefits and how to practice gratitude, so you can embark on your journey today.
What does gratitude mean?
First things first, what is gratitude? Well, it can be many things. As an emotion, to be grateful means you are thankful or appreciative for something you’ve done or received.
Practicing gratitude is an affirmation of positivity that encourages you to take the time to express kindness, or share a positive response to the world, other people or an act of generosity. Gratitude encourages you to be appreciative of what you have and recognise that good things exist outside of yourself. It comes from the Latin word, ‘gratus’, meaning ‘pleasing’.
The benefits of gratitude
Getting motivated to practice gratitude is the very first step. So, if you need a little more persuasion, let’s look at what the benefits of gratitude are. Guess what: there are lots!
There have been multiple studies into the emotional, social, personality, career and health benefits of practicing gratitude, and it’s fair to say that the results are overwhelmingly positive.
But, even without this evidence, acknowledging that you are grateful for something, like a bit of sunshine, isn’t likely to cause any harm or damage and will help to make you and those around you feel more positive.
People who practice gratitude daily have said they’ve felt the below benefits:
- Feeling happier and increased optimism
- Improved self-esteem
- A stronger immune system
- Better sleep
- Improved relationships and friendships
- Increased experience of positive emotions
- More focus and enjoyment for being in the moment
- Improvements in psychological and physical health
- Increased mental strength
- Improved decision-making
- Feeling more empathetic
Gratitude journals: How to start
One easy way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to start you off on your gratitude journey.
1. Choose somewhere to log your gratitude
It may be in a personal journal, in the notes section of your phone, or on a small slip of paper you keep in your purse or wallet. You may even want to start a dedicated gratitude journal. The key point here is that you have a dedicated place where you can write down your thoughts, look back, smile and reflect on all that you have to be grateful for.
2. Get comfortable and let the words flow
If you have never practiced gratitude, thinking “what am I grateful for?”, can seem like an overwhelming question. But once you break it down, you’ll discover that you can find pleasure in even the smallest, most seemingly mundane things that you may take for granted.
Start by reflecting on the things that make you happy – big and small. Here are a few questions to help get you started:
- What has made you smile recently?
- What have you done recently that you enjoyed?
- Who makes your life better or easier?
- What was the last meal you enjoyed?
- What parts of yourself do you love?
- What are your fondest memories?
- Has a TV show made you laugh today?
These types of questions can help you to uncover things that you’re grateful for, for example:
My neighbour took a parcel for me this week when I wasn’t around and brought it to my house when I was in. We ended up having a lovely chat, and this made me smile.
From this scenario, you can be grateful for the kindness of a neighbour, the community you live in, the delights of a good conversation – or even the wonders of home deliveries!
3. Once you’ve got the juices flowing, begin to make gratitude lists
Now, these don’t have to be long; practicing gratitude works regardless of whether you only note one or a multitude of things down on your list.
Start small and try to pick one-to-three things a day that you’re grateful for. Remember to note down the date and any other information you like, such as the location or time, so you can create a log that you can look back on.
We’d recommend aiming for just a few points on your list so as not to overwhelm yourself in the beginning. Then, if you feel this is too easy, simply increase it.
Here’s an example:
16th November 2021
- The sun shined through my kitchen window today whilst I was cooking. I’m grateful for the wonderful sunshine.
- I had a lie-in today. I’m grateful for my cosy bed!
- I spoke to my daughter on the phone today and we laughed. I’m very grateful to have her in my life.
4. Read them back to yourself slowly
Take the time to read through your entries and have a little smile to yourself. Don’t rush this part, it’s important to reflect and feel grateful.
One of the loveliest things about being grateful is the emotions and actions it can inspire. If you’ve noted something down about another person, consider giving them a call or drop them a message to pass on the thanks. It’s an amazing way to nurture and build relationships, you’ll brighten someone’s day and might even make their gratitude list!
5. Practice makes perfect
Once you’ve finished, carry on with your day and try to be more mindful of the things that make you feel grateful. This will become easier the more you incorporate it into your daily life.
Try to journal as often as you can; we’d recommend daily to create a proper routine. We’d also prescribe a cup of tea and a biscuit whilst you’re noting things down to entice you even further! (Bourbon biscuits are our favourites.)
Other ways of practicing gratitude
There is a myriad of different ways to practice gratitude, from writing a journal to talking about it with friends and family. Keep reading to find out more great ideas on how to practise gratitude.
The simple act of smiling more can help you to feel more positive throughout the day. Scientific studies have even found that smiling releases hormones that can make you feel happier. So, what are you waiting for?
Notice the beauty in everyday
A simple way to practice gratitude is to take note of the beauty you see from day to day. This could be the sun shining through dappled trees, the smell of freshly baked bread, or the sound of children laughing together. Actively noticing these things, no matter how big or small, will encourage you to seek out the good in things and value what you have.
Set up a family or friend group chat for gratitude sharing
Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be a solo task; supporting others and encouraging them to express gratitude can be hugely helpful. Start by agreeing between the people in the group on how often you’d like to share your gratitude. Share a text with the group (at any time of the day) outlining one thing you’re grateful for – emojis are allowed and even encouraged!
This way you can inspire each other and feel positive in knowing your loved ones have things to be grateful for too. Also, this works perfectly for those with long-distance relationships, as it allows you to connect on a deep and personal level.
Write a card to someone you haven’t seen in a while
We’ve already mentioned how practicing gratitude can help you to enjoy stronger relationships, both with partners and friends. This is partly due to the self-awareness it brings which enables you to be more perceptive of other people’s needs and emotions.
Try writing a card to someone you haven’t seen in a while and tell them something nice. You’ll be amazed how good it feels to connect to other people and how positively people respond to acts of kindness.
We hope you found this guide to practising gratitude helpful and that you can start reaping the amazing benefits it brings. If you’ve enjoyed this, take a look at our guides on practising mindfulness and how to relax.
Oh, and how could we forget? Thank YOU for reading (and if you are thankful for this article, make sure to include it in your gratitude list!)