Gratitude can be defined as an “emotion or state resulting from an awareness and appreciation of that which is valuable and meaningful to oneself” (Lambert et al., 2010, p.574). In certain cases, practicing gratitude has been shown to increase well-being, life satisfaction, contribute to better sleep quality, decrease stress, and decrease negative emotions (Fekete & Deichert, 2022; Sansone & Sansone, 2010)
Verbs are words that signify action. While this is not an English language blog post, it can be helpful to remind ourselves that gratitude is a verb. Below you will find a list of ways to start practicing and developing gratitude within your life:
- Do a one minute gratitude dump. Set a timer for one minute and write down a list of everything you are grateful for (no matter how small). If your list is small to start with, that is okay and no cause for concern! This takes time. As we’ve established, gratitude is a verb; the more we practice gratitude, the easier it will be to identify what we are grateful for, quickly.
- Verbally express gratitude towards those around you. Often, we silently appreciate those who have helped us or who are positive influences within our lives. Taking the time to tell a person how much we appreciate them can not only set their day on a better path, but it can also impact our own day. Also, Lambert et al. (2010) found that by expressing gratitude regularly to a close friend or partner, the expresser may be more likely to provide this person with unconditional support.
- Start to recognize what it feels like when you are practicing gratitude. Understanding what gratitude feels like within our bodies can help us hone in and develop that feeling further. There are several mindful meditations for gratitude that can be accessed for free such as: 5 Minute Guided Meditation for Gratitude | Mindful Movement - YouTube
- Journal about gratitude. Writing down something can be extremely powerful as it helps us engage more senses. Some guiding questions that can be used as journal prompts can include the following:
- What is something that I am appreciative of learning over the past year of my life?
- What was something I was grateful for as a child (i.e. your favorite stuffed animal, a childhood best friend, or an imaginary friend)?
- Where is a safe-place that I am grateful to have?
- Who is someone I am thankful I crossed paths with?
- When is a time I recall feeling most grateful in my life?
- Create a gratitude box. On the days where practicing gratitude feels especially hard, having a gratitude box ahead of time can be helpful to look back on. In this gratitude box, you can include some of the following:
- Pictures of people or places you love
- Small objects that you enjoy touching (such as a fuzzy sock)
- Small written notes of expressions of gratitude
- Essential oils. Quick tip: Put a few drops of your favorite essential oils in a small bag of uncooked rice so that your box will be filled with your favorite smell.
When opening your box, focus on each object in great detail while thinking about what makes you grateful about for this object.
Fekete, E. M., & Deichert, N. T. (2022). A Brief Gratitude Writing Intervention Decreased Stress and Negative Affect During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Happiness Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-022-00505-6
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2019). Gratitude and well being: the benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 7(11), 18–22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/
Lambert, N. M., Clark, M. S., Durtschi, J., Fincham, F. D., & Graham, S. M. (2010). Benefits of Expressing Gratitude. Psychological Science, 21(4), 574–580. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797610364003