One small way to change your life is to start a gratitude practice.
What you’re grateful for is something that often comes up around the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, but gratitude doesn’t have to be limited to one day a year. Developing a gratitude practice has many benefits and can be a simple way to be mindful and connected to the here and now.
Noticing the things you’re grateful or thankful for can help you notice the present moment, connect to others, and remind yourself of what’s going well during hard times. Having a record of the good things in your life can be a powerful source of support when you’re struggling, as you can look back and remember that you won’t always feel this way. Noticing the things that are going well can help you feel more hopeful or excited about life. A gratitude practice can even help you manage stress, improve sleep, build confidence, and increase your resilience.
Here are 3 simple things you can do to help start a gratitude practice that you can rely on year-round:
Set a reminder on your phone
Adding a new element to your daily routine can be hard, so make it as easy as possible for yourself by setting a recurring reminder on your phone or a device you use a lot. Try to set the reminder for a time when you’ll have time to jot a few things down, and not during a time of day when you know you’ll be tempted to ignore it. You don’t have to spend more than 5 to 10 minutes on this each day, and having an outside reminder can help you stick to it.
Express gratitude to others
Another aspect of gratitude is to express your gratitude to others when you feel it. If you feel thankful toward someone for something, make a point to let them know. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, and if you’d rather do it in writing (via text message or a thank you note or something else) that’s absolutely fine. It’s always nice to hear from someone that they appreciated something you did!
Keep a gratitude journal
Having a dedicated place to keep track of what you’re thankful for makes it a lot easier to practice gratitude regularly. You don’t have to keep a physical journal if that’s not your preference. There are gratitude apps available that help remind you to keep track, or you could use your notes app to keep a running list that you can access anywhere.
It might sound cheesy, but keeping track of the things you’re grateful for actually does make a difference. Working with a therapist can help you find coping strategies, like a gratitude practice, that you can use to improve your life.