By Ali Katz
Our attitude toward anything in life ultimately determines how successful we will be — and gratitude is no exception.
Gratitude brings so much to our life, like increased feelings of joy, improved sleep, stronger connections with others, and a boosted immune system. We know that practicing gratitude is a good idea, yet we still need simple and effective ways to stick with our practice.
As a meditation and mindfulness teacher, I always encourage my students to check in and be honest about how they view their practices… and this includes their gratitude practice.
If they are considering it like another “to-do” or chore, they will burn out fairly quickly. However, if they are thinking of their practice like a gift they are giving to themselves each day, then it will feel like a pleasure.
For a long time, the only way I heard of people practicing gratitude was with a journal. If that resonates with you, that’s wonderful — but if not, there are other simple and effective ways to practice gratitude so that it seamlessly fits into your life. Here are a few of my favorites:
Set a gratitude alarm
I have a reminder that goes off every day on my phone that says, “Gratitude is my Attitude.” When I see it at three o’clock in the afternoon, I take a short break from what I am doing, take some deep breaths, and think of a few things that make me feel grateful.
Practice while you brush
Starting and ending your day with appreciation is ideal, so I encourage people to tape a simple note that says GRATITUDE on their bathroom mirror — a place that they will see it when they brush morning and night.
While you are brushing, think of a few things you are grateful for to begin and end your day. It’s so easy to do while you’re standing there that this is something that every one of my clients does now!
Get a gratitude buddy
A wonderful way to build connection with a family member or friend is to become gratitude buddies. Text each other at least one time a day to tell them something good that happened to you, or that you are simply grateful for.
Wake up and say “thank you”
I try to make my very first thought in the morning when I open my eyes “thank you.” I thank the universe for another chance to be my best self living my best life, and another day to surround myself with family, friends, and love. It feels amazing to start the day from such a positive place right from the moment that you first you see the day.
I often have clients wonder if they are practicing the “right” way. I tell them not to worry, because one of the best things about this is that you can’t mess up! There is nothing too big or too small for which you can be grateful. You can be grateful for your breath and your body functioning, you can be grateful for your loved ones, and you can also be grateful for the perfect lip gloss. It is cultivating an ongoing feeling of gratitude that’s important.
It may take some trial and error to see what feels right for you. When you do find a gratitude practice that you like, stick with it. The benefits of practicing gratitude build with consistency.
Tools like practicing gratitude work only if you work them. Don’t give up! You will love what being grateful — for people, experiences, emotions, places and things — brings to your life.