The Practice of Gratitude

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” —Brother David Steindl-Rast

It is possible that the simplest and most effective habit for living a happier life is to take a few minutes every day to focus on what we can be grateful for. 

Behavioral and psychological research has shown that surprising life improvements can stem from the practice of gratitude. Being grateful can help to:

  • Lift your mood, make you happier
  • Improve resilience
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Improve health
  • Reduce stress
  • Find joy, even during tough times.

Here are three practices you can try to cultivate the powerful habit of gratitude:

1. Make it a part of your morning routine.  Before checking emails or text messages, make yourself a cup of coffee, find a cozy spot to sit, and take 1 minute to name 10 things (small or significant) that you are grateful for in your life. I practice this every morning by simply counting on my fingers! Another wonderful way to start the day is a morning  Meditation On Gratitude.

2.  Keep a a gratitude journal.  Take a few minutes every evening to write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. These thoughts can be about your day, yourself or your life. Keep your gratitude journal by your nightstand so you will see it and remember to jot down what you are thankful for before going to sleep. Your gratitude journal doesn't necessarily have to be deep or elaborately written. The things you are thankful for can be as simple as "family" or "my home" or "lunch with a friend", for instance.

4.  Express your gratitude in person.  Tell someone you appreciate them tonight. Send a card or an email to someone who lives far away from you. You may even send a quick text to someone right now; "I am grateful for you." Expressing your gratitude no matter how simple, can have a big impact on someone’s day, or even life!

Try one of these simple exercises every day for a week to see how it impacts your life!