The research supporting the health benefits of gratitude is vast (here's just one study from Berkeley, for example) - and what better time to put it to practice than now? Below are different ways to feel more grateful throughout your days so you can find what works best for you.
Write it out.
There are countless gratitude journals out there, but my personal favorite is this 5-minute journal. When you start your day with an affirmation and several things you're grateful for, it's a game-changer for your mind and mood. These journals are available everywhere from your local bookstore to Amazon, or you can even make your own!
Another great option is to create a gratitude list. You can write out all the things that make you happy and hang it by your desk or on your fridge as a nice reminder. Or, you could keep a running notebook and challenge yourself to simply add one thing you're grateful for each day! What it looks like at the end of the month might surprise you.
More of a visual person? Hop on over to Pinterest and manifest an attitude of gratitude by creating a collage of everything you love. Maybe even throw in a few quotes about gratefulness for good measure ;).
Though it's not as easy as it sounds, we're in control of our thoughts. And while taking a moment to write what you're grateful for will certainly create a mind shift, you can take it a step further. Try to go one day without complaining - whether someone is driving slow in front of you, or the roll of toilet paper was turned the wrong way, or you just can't fathom checking that last item off your to-do list, you might be surprised at the number of negative thoughts that easily creep in. Take 24 hours to actively notice when that happens, and reframe your thinking each time. Maybe those challenges are actually opportunities.
And if I've learned anything over the past ~20 months, it's the value of critical thinking skills. When you consume media, apply them. Every time. Take a breath before you let what you absorb become an all-consuming negative thought.
Focus on the present.
It is a gift, after all! This is the most challenging for me, especially in an era of over-exposure. We have immediate access to other worlds, which can be wonderful but also distracting. If we're always focused on what's next, we're not taking the time to appreciate how far we've come to reach where we are now - and that likely deserves a bow!
One of the most tried-and-true ways to be in the moment is through meditation. But it requires a lot of discipline to stop a wandering mind from straying too far. So, you might want to try this counting method instead!
And if you're already taking the time to track negative thoughts as noted above, be sure to notice the pleasant moments in life, too! From a quiet morning spent on the porch with a cup of tea, to an eventful evening surrounded by those you love, there's something to be grateful for in every day.
Do happy things.
What makes you feel good? Whatever it is, start your day with that! Better yet, turn it into an afternoon break, too. It could be as simple as putting on your pump-up song or diffusing some oils to set the mood. Getting outside is a great way to appreciate nature, and moving your body through exercise is a critical way to honor your health. Any of these will boost positivity in your brain, creating a cycle of gratitude.
And for some people, it's helping others that makes them happiest. This app will help you find local organizations you're passionate about.
Share the love.
Speaking of helping others, if you're feeling the love, pay it forward!
When was the last time you sent someone a card in the mail? Trader Joe's has hundreds of fun greeting cards for those "just because!" moments for $1.99. Or simply pick up the phone and call someone you haven't talked to in a while (you can't hear their voice through text!).
Practice always saying thank you to those in your community, whether it be the delivery driver, maintenance worker, Uber driver, restaurant server, or store clerk. Gratitude is contagious.
And choose compliments over criticism whenever possible. People thrive from positive feedback and thoughtful conversations, and pointless critique does no one any good (including the critiquer). There are a million better things to discuss than gossip (365 table topics for you right here!).
All of these acts of kindness toward yourself and others have a direct correlation to feeling more grateful in your life. Utilize your strengths and find what works in your own routine.
Lastly, I leave you with a book recommendation: Gratitude by Oliver Sacks.
Its tiny frame holds the wisdom of a lifetime and should have a special place on every bookshelf. It also makes a wonderful gift for those who light up your life! “My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
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