Gratitude. It doesn’t always come easily, but with the right combination of dedication and motivation, it can ultimately become a life-changing habit. As we’re going through the motions of everyday life — whether it’s picking up the kids from school or stopping by the store to get last-minute ingredients for dinner, when do we actually stop to think, “What am I grateful for today?”
When asked this question, there are probably a few things that come to mind immediately — your family, career, pets, etc. While these things are important, what if we took it a step further? What about the little things — the person behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru who paid for your coffee this morning or the front-row parking spot you found by the crowded Whole Foods during lunch time?
We’re not saying the big things don’t matter, but sometimes we just need to take a step back and appreciate the little things, too. With our busy, never-ending to-do list filled days, it can be challenging to take a step back and be thankful for what’s right in front of us.
We’ve come up with ten different ways to practice gratitude that shouldn’t take much time out of your day. We hope they help you find joy in this crazy, unpredictable journey that we call life.
1. Start a gratitude journal by writing down three things you are grateful for every day.
You don’t need a fancy notebook for this — although that certainly does help. It’s more about the action, anyway. The fact that you are taking a few minutes out of your day to write down three things you are grateful for speaks volumes.
If you find yourself writing down the same things every single day, try to change up your daily routine. Instead of immediately checking your phone the second you wake up, try meditating for five minutes. When you create small changes in your daily routine, then there’s a greater likelihood that your mind will be more open to different perspectives.
Still struggling? We recommend using a prompt-style journal, like The Five Minute Journal. Every single page represents one day and each day has a different question for you to answer.
2. Send a message or call an old friend you haven’t talked to in the past six months.
There’s no doubt that life can get a little hectic and before you know it, almost a year has passed since you last talked to your friend Jenny. It’s not that you haven’t wanted to reach out to her, you’ve most likely just forgotten or gotten caught up with other responsibilities.
But there’s a good chance you have your phone nearby (or you’re probably reading this on your phone), so what’s stopping you from opening up your messages and typing Jenny’s name?
Keep it simple, maybe even throw in an old inside-joke or a beloved memory to let them know you still care. More than likely, what’ll happen is they’ll light up when they see your name pop up on their phone. Even if you only end up exchanging a few messages back and forth, all that matters is the intention you set when you sent that message.
3. Compliment someone when they least expect it.
It’s no secret that everyone loves a genuine compliment — even those who might not admit it. There’s no better feeling than having someone, especially a complete stranger, compliment you. You never know the impact your little compliment can have on someone’s life, especially if you end up complimenting them on something that nobody has ever complimented them on before.
4. Take five minutes to meditate in a quiet place.
Meditation is no easy task — very few times do we actually sit down, clear our minds, and be present in the moment. It’s easier said than done, but it definitely makes a huge difference. If you’re still struggling to clear your head, try using an app like Headspace or Shine with guided meditations.
5. Start off dinner by sharing one thing that you’re grateful for happening today.
This way, you’re not only practicing gratitude, you’re sharing it with people you care about. After you’ve shared your one thing, encourage everyone to share, too. You may be surprised with what you hear.
6. Research organizations in your area where you can volunteer.
If you’ve ever volunteered before, then you know how rewarding it can truly be. Taking the time to see what organizations and nonprofits are in your area is great because it connects you to your community and gives you a sense of purpose.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own problems and forget that our issues are so tiny compared to what other people are going through in this exact moment.
7. Make a point to say thank you to anyone you come in contact with during the day.
When you’re running errands, there’s a good chance you probably already feel rushed.
You may be standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, feeling fed up because the person in front of you is taking forever when you’ve got places to be. You may get so frustrated that you forget to make a point of saying “thank you” to the cashier or the person bagging your groceries. Don’t forget because there’s a good chance you just might brighten their day.
8. Set motivational reminders in your phone to get you through the day.
Time to be your own personal cheerleader. We never truly know what each day will bring, and sometimes the smallest compliment is all you need to hear to keep going. You can do this by going to the alarms app and setting a few to go off throughout the day.
9. Leave a kind review for one of your favorite brands, restaurants, or stores.
Even if you’re not the type of person who reviews every restaurant they eat dinner at on Yelp, the least you could do is support one of your go-to places, right? It’s so easy to do and the business will certainly appreciate it.
10. Look in the mirror and say, “I appreciate you.”
It may sound like a silly thing to do, but the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself so remember to nurture it. Think of all the things you do to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Appreciate yourself and your mind, body, and soul will certainly thank you for it.