5 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude

By Mali Anderson in Thinking Sustainably

Do you ever feel bogged down by negativity? Practice gratitude to decrease stress in your life, increase optimism in your thoughts, and improve your well-being. Here are five simple ways to practice gratitude, from gratitude walks to bedtime thank yous.

1. Take a Gratitude Walk

You might have heard of walking meditation, maybe connected to practicing mindfulness, says the University of California at Berkeley. A gratitude walk is a way to gather positive energy. I prefer to take gratitude walks in wooded areas or on a beach but urban walks work, too.

Notice your thoughts and veer them toward things you are grateful for. This type of stroll isn't about reaching a destination; it's about creative problem solving. For example, you might express gratitude for your family, your home, or the flowers you are passing in the park. Keep adding things to your list. If you are comfortable, you can even say all the things you are grateful for out loud.

2. Share Compliments with Others and Yourself

Think about all the things you appreciate about your partner, children, and friends. Choose one of these and share it with someone you love. You might let your child know how much you appreciated their help getting the household garden started. Or, if your partner makes you tea in the morning, let them know their thoughtfulness is appreciated.

In addition to your loved ones, take time to identify things you love about yourself, too. Give yourself thanks for being a loyal friend. Or, tell yourself how proud you are of the home you've created.

jars of gratitude notes

3. Leave Yourself Notes

Everyone appreciates love notes, so why not leave a few for yourself? Place a note on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or near your coat rack, reminding you to practice gratitude. You can create reminders on your phone, as well. Acknowledging the positive in your life throughout the day will lift your mood.

4. Start a Gratitude Jar

Take a container you love, like a small bowl or jar, and put it in a spot you see once or twice a day—maybe next to your bed or near your journal. Then, write down something you are thankful for and add the slip of paper to your gratitude jar each day. Over time, you'll have a pile of reminders of all the good things in your life. If a stressful moment arises, you can pull one of the slips from the jar, reminding yourself of all the things you are thankful for.

Here are some examples to get your gratitude jar started:

  • I'm thankful for the sunrise and the sunset.
  • I'm grateful for the love of my friends.
  • I'm thankful for my daily stretching and exercise ability.
  • I'm grateful for the restoration of a good night's sleep.
  • I'm thankful that big goals start with small steps.

5. Bedtime Thank Yous.

Nighttime routines often include bath time for the kids and story time as a family. But before the lights are off for the night, take a moment to say thank you for all you've learned or experienced throughout the day. Parents might share they are grateful for their career and their family, while children might give thanks for their teacher or an afternoon of playing outside. You'll learn more about each other and you'll end your day with a feeling of gratitude.

How do you practice gratitude? We'd love to hear what you are thankful for and how you teach thankfulness to others. Share your thoughts on Twitter!

Image source: Mali Anderson | Flickr

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Why It’s Good

Practicing gratitude can improve your life. Sometimes we just need to adjust our thoughts to see how much we have to be thankful for.