Do you want to feel more joy? Less stress? More connected? More optimistic? Do you want better relationships, boosted immunity, better sleep and a stronger heart? Do you want to experience a spontaneous desire to exercise more?
If I offered you all of this for free and said it only required a commitment of about fifteen minutes a day, would you do it?
Your answer might be no. Mine has been so far. With this post, I’d like to change that.
Studies have shown that creating a gratitude practice actually does give you some/all of the benefits listed above. (It depends on the study.) What I find challenging about creating a gratitude practice is keeping it genuine.
I’ve tried keeping a gratitude journal. It doesn’t seem to work for me – I list things in a dull, rote kind of way that doesn’t actually create a feeling of gratitude.
I want more guidance with my gratitude practice. I want someone to hold my hand and make it easy for me to make it a habit. I suspect there are more people out there who feel this way.
I decided to hire myself to create a structured gratitude practice. I’m inviting you to join me in testing it out for seven days.
Each day has a theme, and three different practice options daily for you to choose from. Of course if you’re inspired, you make up your own.
I’ve created a pretty, printable PDF version (with quotes!) for you here. You’re also welcome to like me on Facebook, or follow me on Pinterest – I’ll be including reminders and action challenges throughout the month on both pages.
If you like this and would like more of it, please let me know in the comments or in an email ([email protected]) – I’ve been debating creating a 30 day email series to make it even easier to create a gratitude practice. If you’d be interested in that, please let me know. (Thank you in advance for the feedback!)
For those of you who just want to read it all immediately, here you go:
Day #1: Small Delights
Find gratitude for small delights today. Try any or all of these ideas:
- Look for natural beauty throughout the day – the light shining through the trees, the sound of wind, the smell of leaves,. Whenever you notice something, internally say “thank you” to nature for being so beautiful.
- Wear your warmest, fuzziest socks, light a delicious candle, pet your cat, make your son laugh – let the delight your experience be your gratitude for today.
- Create a small delight for someone else: bring their favorite coffee, send a hilarious YouTube video, offer a gorgeous flower. Bask in gratitude for having someone to delight, and the ability to do so.
Day #2: Your Impact
You have an effect on everyone around you – see only the best in everyone today. Try any or all of these ideas:
- Look for ways people are helping you today – while out and about, at work, at home, online – and say thank you as often as you can.
- Write a short note or email to someone you care about thanking them for one of their natural qualities or characteristics. (Or call them or tell them in person – the delivery is completely up to you!)
- Pick someone you don’t particularly like and challenge yourself to list out 25 reasons why they are pretty great. Find the gratitude in your ability to see the best in people when asked.
Day #3: Having Enough
Cultivate gratitude for having enough of everything you need. Try any or all of these ideas:
- Look for ways that you have enough right now – air, shelter, water, love, clothing, food – and keep a record of it today. For example, you have enough vision & literacy to read this, enough computer skills, internet access, etc. to have obtained it. Write down the hundreds of ways you have enough for today.
- Choose a meal and eat exactly “enough” – where you are not hungry and not stuffed – and give thanks for your body’s amazing ability to give you feedback on what’s enough.
- Think of something you always want more of – money, sleep, chocolate, sex, fame, appreciation (whatever it is for you) – and list out ten ways that you have enough of that in your life right now. (This one can be hard but fun!)
Day #4: Mistakes
Instead of blaming yourself or getting angry about mistakes, let’s try bathing them in gratitude. Try any or all of these ideas:
- Look back on any “mistakes” you made this year, and see if you can find anything good that came out of them. Take a minute to feel grateful for not being perfect in the moment you made the “mistake.”
- If you believe someone around you is making a mistake with their lives, take it as an opportunity to feel gratitude for not having to make that choice yourself. (You could also do this with politicians or celebrities you disagree with.)
- Research famous “mistakes” that turned out to have a huge positive impact on the world, and write a short note of thanks to the person who made the mistake. (It’s okay if they are dead, you don’t have to send it.) The pacemaker, for example, was created by mistake.
Day #5: Celebration
Today is a double dose of gratitude – celebration and gratitude for it! Try any or all of these ideas:
- Celebrate being alive today. Use eating and drinking as a reminder to celebrate – each time you take a sip of coffee, for example, take a second to celebrate the fact that you can.
- Plan a celebration of someone for something unexpected – pick something about them that you are grateful for and plan a celebration around it. (For example, the “you give the best dating advice” lunch celebration.) Bonus – bring a thank you note.
- Plan a celebration of your own life. Get dressed up, cook yourself a lovely meal, or just take the evening off to celebrate the many, many ways your life has been wonderful up to this point.
Day #6: Abundance
Since you’ve already mastered the art of enough, step it up to recognize your abundance. Try any or all of these ideas:
- Create an abundance collage. Rip out pictures from magazines (or create a Pinterest board!) of abundance that you already have. Air, water, love, natural beauty, things, money – create a visual representation and check it whenever you need a shot of gratitude.
- Set a reminder once an hour today and spend ten seconds giving (silent) thanks for the wild abundance of air there is to breathe, or beauty there is to witness, or love there is to feel.
- Give something from a place of abundance. Maybe you can give money, or time, or things. Maybe you can give love, listening, or a smile. Choose something today that you feel abundant about and give some to someone else.
Day #7: Being Present Now
Right now is the only moment that actually exists – may as well spend it in gratitude! Try any or all of these ideas:
- Sometime today, try Eckhart Tolle’s exercise for being present – close your eyes and ask yourself how you know you have hands. Let the awareness of the moment be an act of gratitude.
- Spend two minutes sensually experiencing something naturally beautiful today (the sound of birds, the feel of grass, the sight of a candle flame, the smell of lime, the taste of an apple) and let your presence with it be filled with gratitude for both it and your ability to perceive it.
- Allow yourself to feel exactly what you are feeling now, in this moment. Give yourself permission to feel anger, disappointment, joy, or anything that comes up for ninety seconds. Then, spend a moment in gratitude for being human and having feelings.
Leave a comment committing to trying out a seven day gratitude practice, and please don’t forget to let me know if you’d like me to develop a free thirty day email series with ideas for daily gratitude practice.