8 simple ways to keep a daily gratitude practice
Gratitude. This topic is dear to me. If you meditate or practise yoga, it’s very likely that you’ve come across this concept that can have a big impact on your life. For me, it snuck in when I started meditating regularly about six years ago, and it really became important after my dad passed away unexpectedly three years ago.
It’s very easy to take people for granted in life. Even things we love with all our heart or things we’ve worked hard for can become overlooked and underappreciated amid our daily grind. But there are a few easy ways to stop these important things from slipping away from us.
Some of the benefits of gratitude practice are positive emotions that result in improved health, enhanced empathy and self-esteem, and stronger relationships.
Start your day with a gratitude list
This is a very easy exercise, but it can have a great impact on our well-being. Pick three things you’re grateful for and write them down. Just off the top of your head. They can be things, people, animals, anything as little or big as you like. Whatever you feel grateful for at that moment, write it down.
I love to keep a journal for this gratitude exercise. When I sit down with my morning coffee, I jot down the date and three things I’m grateful for. Sometimes I even doodle the words instead of writing them out. It’s fun and something to laugh at when I go back through it and look at my entries. On a drab day, this can be the little pick-me-up I need.
End your day with a gratitude list
This is basically the same idea, but instead of writing down the things you are grateful for in the morning, you’ll do it at the end of the day. It’s just a matter of preference. Like the morning practice, this could become part of your bedtime ritual as you slow down and reflect on your day.
Instead of a journal you could also use a glass jar and write down each thing you’re grateful for on bits of paper, which you put in the jar. On a day when everything seems to go wrong, you can pull out this gratitude jar and read through your entries. They’re just little reminders of all the positive things in your life.
Who doesn’t like to get a compliment? It feels good when someone recognises and points out a lovely detail about you. It puts a smile on your face and sometimes it’s this very thing that makes your day.
If something small like that can lift your mood instantly, it’s also a nice gesture to extend to others. When giving a compliment to others, you want to consider two things: Always be genuine and don’t expect anything in return. Do it just for the sake of it and make someone’s day.
Connect with loved ones
This has been and still is a bit tricky due to coronavirus restrictions and periodical lockdowns and such, but speaking to a family member or friend on the phone or over zoom already helps to keep up and strengthen a relationship.
Ask them how they are, make plans and follow them through once you can, and just have a regular catch-up. We often take the people in our inner circle for granted. Having a chat and spending quality time with them shows them that we appreciate having them in our lives.
Giving back to your local community is a great way to practise gratitude. It allows you to help, but it also gives you a wider perspective on life. Most people get caught up in focusing on what they don’t have, and it makes them feel bad.
Volunteering shows you that your situation is often not half as bad as you imagine it in your head. It reminds you of the fact that there are lots of people and/or animals in less-than-ideal situations. Helping out and paying it forward is an expression of gratitude.
Do a daily walk (in nature)
One of my favourites on this list. If you’ve read my previous newsletters, you know that I love my morning run from our house meandering on a path through the sand dunes until I reach the lookout point where the ocean washes onto the cliffs. It gives me so much energy, a sense of calm, and clears my thoughts. This is a daily reminder of the incredible power of nature.
Go outside and look around and make a habit of noticing the little things that bring you joy. Try and use your other senses too when you’re in nature. You’ll be surprised.
Say thanks / send a thank you note
Showing your gratitude by saying thank you is so easy, but it’s often overlooked. Appreciating someone’s actions and validating them goes a long way. If someone helps you, no matter how small or simple the gesture, you can give back by saying thanks.
You could also make it a habit to regularly send thank you notes, emails, or messages. This way, you’re able to tell people how you feel about them and that you appreciate what they do for you.
My day usually starts by getting out of bed, putting on clothes, and going for a run. When I come back, I stretch for a few minutes, shower, and sit down to meditate for ten to fifteen minutes. Then I’ll start work.
I’m not sure why but it feels like my head is just a little bit clearer when I meditate compared to days when I skip it. Mediating regularly is said to reduce stress and increase self-awareness. You’re taking a few minutes for yourself, where you work on your mental health and your well-being, and it’s a great element of your gratitude practice.
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