November 7, 2023 2 Min Read
Creative Ways To Practice Gratitude
Imagine you’re behind schedule as you leave for work. You run to the bus stop, frantically checking your watch, calculating that you won’t catch the bus in time. As you near the bus stop, you see that the bus is still there. The doors are just closing. You lock eyes with the bus driver as you run toward the bus. The driver opens the doors to let you in. As you board the bus, your emotions are complex; you feel stressed, maybe frustrated with yourself for leaving late, or perhaps embarrassed that people on the bus are now staring at you. You also think to yourself that you feel grateful that you made it on the bus and breathlessly express an emphatic “thank you,” to the driver.
Unlike happiness, anger, or sadness, the feeling of gratitude can be fleeting and more easily overlooked. With practice, we can make the conscious choice to acknowledge the parts of our life, big or small, that we appreciate. Gratitude doesn’t quite get the credit it deserves, but it is far from a frivolous practice. Expressing gratitude or even witnessing the expression of gratitude can gradually rewire our brains to see the world through a new lens. The effect of this change in perspective is widespread, impacting our bodies and minds.
So, how can we make practicing gratitude feel less like another daily commitment? Each person’s practice will look different; let’s explore some ideas to help you inject a small dose of gratitude once a day.
Personalize Your Gratitude Practice
There are many ways to practice gratitude that can influence you and the people you interact with. The practice is most effective when you are specific. For example, instead of saying “thank you,” to your parent for helping take care of your kids, you could say, “I am so thankful for the time you take each week to help out, it makes me feel really supported.”
Share as a Group: prompt your family or friends to share three things they are grateful for. This could even be something you incorporate into family dinners to generate a positive, connecting conversation that makes everyone feel seen.
Nature Walks: take in the parts of the natural world that you love. Stay present as you observe the shape of the clouds, a bird building a nest, or the color of the trees.
Write About It: keep a gratitude journal, write a letter to someone you appreciate, or make a gratitude jar. With a gratitude jar, you can add something to it each day or have your family add to it too, then read the entries at the end of the week.
Establish a Nighttime Routine: reflect individually, add the practice to your child’s bedtime routine, or take turns sharing with your partner.
Express It: send a text to a friend, give a shout out to your coworker, or write a review for your favorite restaurant.
Build Resilience Through Gratitude
At our lowest points, some days we may feel like there is nothing to feel grateful for. There is always something. If you lost a loved one, write a letter to them about a memory you are grateful for. If you are struggling financially, maybe you are grateful for a supportive friend. Some days it might just be the comfort you feel from a favorite TV show. Pushing yourself is not an easy task during our darkest periods, but these small acts can help you build resilience that will help to protect your body and reduce the speed of the biological aging process.
You may need help identifying what to feel grateful for, understanding your mental blocks, or combatting your negative self-talk. To get started, book just one coaching session to get advice, ask questions, and pinpoint the reason(s) why you want to commit to practicing gratitude.