How often do you stop to think about what you’re grateful for? Every day? Every month? Once a year? In the USA, we spend the month of November thinking about our blessings. We gather on Thanksgiving Day and often go around the table to share something we are most grateful for. It’s a beautiful moment and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Well, November was nine months ago. What if we brought that sort of exercise into our everyday life? I’m here for the warm fuzzies on a daily basis!
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What is that warm fuzzy feeling? It’s happiness and it’s just one of the many benefits that we can get from starting a gratitude practice. Harvard Health summarizes some others:
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.Harvard Health
Let’s look at some of those benefits closer!!
Benefit: Relish Good Experiences
At first I wondered why gratitude would help make pleasant experiences even better. And then I remembered times when something fun was going on, but I couldn’t focus on it because of all the problems. It was too hot, I was thirsty, there were bugs…etc. When we train our brain to only see the negative, it can ruin even good moments.
Instead of enjoying the outing, I was a grumpy lump, complaining about annoyances. Hey, we’re all entitled to our feelings, I’m a big proponent of that. But for our own enrichment as a person, wouldn’t it be awesome to shift the focus to gratitude for an opportunity we’re experiencing? I think yes, how about you? If I could have gotten out of my slump and enjoyed the natural beauty, I’m sure my vibration would have been much higher.
Related: How to Stop Worrying For Good!
Benefit: Improved Health
When we feel like the world is gloomy, unsafe, or against us, I can guarantee that will raise your stress.
I mean, keeping track of all the things going wrong is oddly satisfying in a way, I won’t lie. Almost like you’re building a case for why you deserve to feel miserable. But this pessimistic view of life can mean you may die sooner. I can guarantee that would outweigh any vindication you feel from hoarding grumpy feelings. In fact, a study in Finland found that there may be a link between your outlook on life and your heart health:
Researchers found that overall pessimists were twice as likely to die than optimists and on top of this, they found being grumpy could also lead to possible blood vessel damage.
I feel like that’s pretty good motivation to find a more optimistic point of view!
Quick note: If you feel grumpy or down on a regular basis, make sure to visit your doctor to rule out depression or other illnesses! There are a host of imbalances in your body that could make a good mood really hard to find. Also consider what you’re eating, food can have a huge impact on how we feel and function.
Benefit: Dealing With Adversity
This ties in to one of my favorite subjects: growth mindset! Pessimism and grumpiness whisper to our soul: you’ll never be good enough. You can’t learn new things. It’s too late for you. This leaves us feeling like our brains are rigid – fixed and unchangeable. When adversity shows up, we are overwhelmed by it. Our tools to overcome it are weak because we don’t believe we can.
Enter: growth mindset. This teaches us resiliency: when things go wrong, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Our brains can be rewired, we can find new habits and solve new problems. A positive attitude allows us to be grateful for failure. That feels counter intuitive at first, but failure is what leads to all great breakthroughs.
It also teaches us to have gratitude for the feedback of others who are seeing us struggle. Instead of beating ourselves up, we rebound and improve. There is huge potential here for achieving our growth goals.
Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice
Are you pumped up and ready to bring more gratitude to your life now? I hope so! One really effective gratitude practice is to start a gratitude journal. There are a couple ways you can incorporate this into your routine:
- Write 3-5 unique items everyday that you are grateful for.
- Use prompts to dig deeper into your gratitude experiences.
I recommend writing items everyday and maybe going deeper once a week or so. Don’t burn out on gratitude, that wouldn’t feel very good, LOL!
So, for the days you have time and are mentally ready to dig deeper into your gratitude practice here are 10 prompts to get you started!
10 Gratitude Journal Prompts
- Who are you most thankful for?
- What was a time you literally glowed with gratitude?
- How has someone shown gratitude to you?
- When was a time you went out of your way to show gratitude?
- How do you prefer to show gratitude to others (letter, email, call, etc)? Why?
- List 5 things you are grateful for right now and how each one came into your life.
- What invention are you eternally grateful someone thought of?
- Write about something your younger self did that you are so glad happened.
- What are you doing now that will inspire gratitude in your future self?
- What activity in your life are you most thankful for?
It’s your turn now!
Which prompt do you want to start with? Have you incorporated a gratitude practice into your life before? Even if you have tried before and it didn’t stick, it’s always a good day to try again! You’ve got this!
A very thoughtful post, During this pandemic I have really learned about gratitude and simplicity.
Nancy L says
I started a gratitude journal a few weeks into the COVID crisis. I was beginning to feel a little down when I couldn’t see family and friends and the journal really helps keep everything in perspective. Thanks for some new prompts!
Nicole Anderson says
A gratitude journal is such a great idea. The more we think of what we are grateful for, the happier we are likely to become which would make a huge difference to the quality of our lives. That has to start with open acknowledgement which is where the journal comes in. It sounds simple but if you stay focused on the positive, your life will definitely be better.
I do practice gratitude and am normally very content and happy, or at least content and grateful (if things are bumpy) but right now I’m a little concerned that we have no choice about going back to work in my family, and the kids going back to school. I wish we could do both from home (and it’s possible, but not permitted).
I like the ‘what activity are you most grateful for’ prompt. That is a unique one I haven’t seen around.
Thank you Rosey! I’m so glad it is valuable for you!
THE JOYOUS LIVING entertainment + disabled blogger (@thejoyousliving) says
those are terrific suggestions for gratitude prompts. i especially like #2. when i am having a bad day physically or mentally i try to remember when i had really good days or even when i had worse days.
Thank you! That long term perspective, looking at both better and worse times, can be so helpful to bring clarity to were we are. I think it helps us remember “this too shall pass”!
I will absolutely be using these prompts! I could stand to take a few pieces of advice about staying optimistic. I could see how being negative could effect your blood vessels. I have many things to be grateful for, I just need to focus more on those things. Great read!
Shannon, I can get stuck focusing on the negative too. Just remember, it’s a practice! It takes time, and lots of self compassion, and doesn’t just happen over night. You’ll get to where you want to be! 🙂
I’ve been writing a gratitude journal for over a year now. It is really helpful to stay positive and channelize my energy into doing something productive for my mental health and well-being.
That is fantastic Ana! Keep up the good habit!
Emman Damian says
I agree that journals relish good experiences! It’s one of its benefits. So nice. Great article! I’ll share this to my friends.
Emman thank you so much for helping me spread the word!
I loved the benefits you listed, as well as the how to instructions, and finally the prompts themselves. I think with so much turmoil around us, these are critical right now. And I think I may spend some time with my kids on these!
Thank you so much Marie! How did I not think about sharing these with my daughter?!? Brilliant.
These were lovely! I loved reflecting on what I’m doing now that my future self will be grateful for. As important as it is to be grateful for the things external to us, it’s also crucial for us to be grateful for ourselves!
Thank you!! That is one of my favorites too!
Great reasons to journal. I used to journal when I was sad but i need to do it more when I am grateful.
Journalling is also my go-to during a sad/angry/lonely moment. It feels so different to record happy feelings, give it a try! 🙂
I have so many people to thank especially this pandemic. One of them is God. I will definitely do this gratitude journal. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for reading Chei!
When you are suffering from depression gratitude is something very hard to pratice, because your own mind is telling you that you dont deserve anything you worked for. Thanks for the tips.
I love gratitude journals. Sharing what you’re thankful for is such an excellent way to pause and reflect. I write about this quite often on my own blog.
SARAH LOUDERBACK says
I’ve been meaning to start doing this!