Gratitude is powerfully transformational. Practicing gratitude cultivates healing in our hearts and our bodies. A grateful heart brings fullness of joy and helps us live a rich and more authentic life. That said-I believe everyone should know how to practice gratitude every day!
A grateful heart helps to bring balance and wholeness into our lives. And get this!-fear and/or anger cannot dwell in the same place as gratitude. Truth!
Practicing gratitude is just that, it’s a practice.
Practicing gratitude is just that, a practice. Like anything else, the more you practice, it becomes like second nature. Like muscle memory, I believe we can develop “heart memory,” too.
I first learned about the power of practicing gratitude and how to practice gratitude every day via the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Like many of you- I watched The Oprah Winfrey Show every afternoon M-F without fail.
I remember the day like it was yesterday.
It was a hot day, and I was somewhat frazzled. I was folding laundry. On this particular day, Oprah was promoting the book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I was inspired!
I got my hands on a copy of the book asap, and I gotta say!- This book was transformational! Later, I grabbed a copy of The simple abundance. Journal of gratitude taught me so many wonderful life lessons, along with how to cultivate a grateful heart.
First things first. What is gratitude?
By the simplest definitions, gratitude is the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for, and returning kindness. It seems simple enough.
So why practice gratitude? Here’s what I know.
As I mentioned earlier, practicing gratitude can be powerfully transformational. When we fill our hearts and minds with gratitude, there isn’t room for negativity or strife.
How to Practice Gratitude Every Day:
1. Start & Maintain a Gratitude Journal
There are tons & tons of gratitude journals on the market these days. A few gratitude journals are great because they have some extra features, like insightful prompts and inspiring quotes. But you can use any journal you like.
How to start a gratitude Journal:
Here’s what I do:
- I have my gratitude journal on my bedside table with my favorite pen at the ready.
- I try to write in my journal every day. (When I miss a day or two or three…no worries! I Just pick up where I left off-this is a shame free zone!)
- Sometimes first thing in the morning and sometimes at bedtime. There are even days I write in it twice- morning AND night. Those are good days!
- I write 3-5 things for which I am grateful. Some days it’s easy, and I could write a long list, But there are those days when it’s hard.
2. Be on the lookout for things to be thankful for!
Practicing gratitude is just that—a practice.
When we want to be good at anything, it takes practice. So, like any good habit, we’ve got to train ourselves to have a watchful eye for both the big blessings the tender little mercies.
Miracles are everywhere all the time!
Here are a few examples from some of my journal entries:
- Brenda is cancer-free!
- We are building a new house!
- Jordan is engaged!
- We’re going to be Grandparents!
The Tender Mercies (The Little Things)
- A butterfuly landed on my hand today!
- Lucy learned how to use the doggie door!
- Ben & Jerry’s.
3. Say thanks.
When someone does something nice for you- no matter how small, say “Thank you.” When you notice someone (even a stranger) being kind or doing a great job- Say “thank you.”
Being authentically thankful is powerful. Being validated and appreciated-equally powerful. When you take time out to say thanks, everyone wins.
Put it in writing.
A handwritten thank you packs a punch! And sadly is a dying art.
When you love someone, are thankful to have them in your life, appreciate something they have done for you, or maybe you want to tell them they are the”bee’s knees,” as my Grandma used to say- then take the time and write them a note.
Receiving a handwritten thank you will make their day, AND it will put a spring in your step too!
- Buy pretty thank you cards and postage stamps and have them at the ready.
- Stock up on colorful sticky notes. Put them in lunchboxes, on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, in the car, etc.
- When you think of someone, you could and should thank- do what Nike says and just do it. If you can’t do it right then, make a note in your calendar so you don’t forget.
- Set a timer on your phone to remind you a few times a month to send thank you notes. It’s easy to let time slip away.
4. Focus on what you’ve got and not on what you don’t.
It’s a choice. One thing that helps me with this step is mindfulness. To me, mindfulness means thinking about what we are thinking about. So I try to do just that.
Intentionally think about things that are good in your life.
Fill up your head with positive thoughts. That way- there is less room for negative thoughts.
5. Keep a gratitude jar.
I love this one! We have a large Gratitude Jar that I bought years ago via Oprah’s Favorite things. It’s beautiful and comes with lovely little notecards to write on.
At first, I brought the gratitude jar out during the Thanksgiving season, but now it’s a staple in our home.
You don’t have to have a fancy gratitude jar (although they are nice!) Instead, you can craft your own out of a mason jar or a recycled Spegetthi sauce or pickle jar.
Have paper and pen at the ready and whenever you think of something. You are grateful, and take 30 seconds to jot it down put it in your jar.
Sometimes when I catch myself being a Debbie Downer or I’m stuck in negative self-talk, I go to my gratitude jar and read until I feel a bit better. In doing so-I usually end up adding one to the jar in the process, which is a win-win.
6. Create positive & thankful affirmations
By definition, affirmations are positive statements that can help you challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts.
When you repeat them often and believe in them, you can make positive changes in your life.
Put Positive Affirmations Everywhere!
When you come across a positive quote or affirmation, write it down on a sticky note and stick it somewhere that you will see it often.
Bathroom mirror, in your car, closet, laundry room, refrigerator- You get the idea.
I have a sticky note wall of positive affirmations and inspirational quotes in my office that I love. So when I’m tired, discouraged, sad, or need a minute…I can glance up and pull from my affirmations.
Some final thoughts on how to practice gratitude every day
In closing, I truly believe with everything in me that a thankful heart prepares the way for every good thing on earth and in heaven.
And with that, I will leave this right here.
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it w ill be enough.
Until next time,
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