The expression of gratitude is almost second-nature when we reach major milestones in our lives, such as a big promotion or the birth of a baby, but what about all of the moments in between? There are countless instances in our day-to-day lives that also bring us joy, yet often pass by without notice--things as simple as eating a piece of pumpkin pie or exchanging pleasantries with someone on the street. With November and the Thanksgiving season fast-approaching, there is no better time than the present to begin your daily gratitude practice.
Practicing gratitude on a daily basis has a long list of benefits, including but not limited to: cultivating more positive emotions; improved sleep; greater well-being; and increased life satisfaction. As you begin your own journey, try to notice new things that you are grateful for each time. This will help to deepen your gratitude practice by opening your consciousness to more opportunities for thankfulness.
The following is a list of creative ways to incorporate a daily gratitude practice into your life, whether personally, as a couple, or as a family:
Ideas for practicing gratitude personally
- Get outside and go for a walk or run. Pick a gratefulness "trigger"--it might be every half-mile or every time you pass a lamp post. Each time you reach that mileage or landmark, say one thing you are grateful for. Do your best not to have any repeats, and try to stick with this exercise for the entire duration of your walk or run.
- Set a daily gratitude alarm on your phone. When it goes off, write down one thing you are grateful for in your notes app. When you are having a low moment in your day, you can refer back to your notes.
Ideas for practicing gratitude as a couple
- Before you fall asleep at night, say three things that you are grateful for in one another. Bonus points if you say it while making eye contact with your partner.
- Share a gratitude journal together. Choose one location to keep the journal. At some point during the day, each of you should write one thing you are grateful for. It's not only a great way to practice gratitude on a daily basis, it's also a nice way to stay connected to each other when the days get busy. If you have a significant other who travels a lot or if you are in a long-distance relationship, try creating an online document that you can share access to.
Ideas for practicing gratitude as a family
- Create dinner conversation-starters centered around gratitude. Write twenty questions on strips of paper and place them in a jar at the center of your dinner table. Each evening, let a family member pick one question, then go around the table and allow everyone to answer. This exercise encourages each person to notice different sources of gratitude and reduces repetitive answers each night. Some sample questions might be: What is your favorite part of your home? What is something your teacher does that you are grateful for? What was the happiest part of your day? What is your favorite toy?
- Create a gratitude paper chain in your home this November. Pre-cut a pile of paper chain strips and designate an area to keep the strips and markers. Starting on November 1st, each day family members should write one thing they are grateful for on a strip and add it to the chain. Place the words on the inside of the loop so you can't see them. Watch the chain grow throughout the month of November. During Thanksgiving dinner, take turns opening the links and reading them out loud.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to share these ideas with you. Remember to have fun with them and make them your own.
Peace + Play