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How Practicing Gratitude Will Change Your Life

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We’re currently still finding ourselves in emotionally and mentally difficult times, because of lockdowns, restrictions, and other things that prevent us from fully experiencing life.

This is hard for many, many people around the globe. But there are things we can do to get us through this difficult time. Things that can change your life. One of those things is practicing gratitude and in this post, you’ll learn exactly how to start this practice!

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What exactly is gratitude?

An expression of gratitude in its most basic form is simply saying ‘’thank you’’ or ‘’I appreciate it.’’ Now, there is a difference between gratitude as a practice and plain old gratitude as in expressing it out of politeness.

You say ‘’thank you’’ when you get your change back at the grocery store and I’m sure you can think of a hundred situations where you say thank you in a similar way. But these phrases have become so standard that there’s no feeling involved.

And that’s what differentiates expressions of gratitude from practicing gratitude – sincere feeling and emotion. 

This sincere feeling and emotion ultimately comes down to appreciation, but also acknowledging all that is good in your life. This practice enables you to feel and experience real appreciation for people, things, thoughts, and really anything in your life!

You also start to see that gratitude is outside of yourself. Think about it, can you really be grateful for yourself? The answer is no, not really. And this can be a very impactful thing – realizing that a lot of the world’s beauty is outside of yourself.

What’s also important to realize is that practicing it can be seen as developing or improving a skill. Meaning that you can get increasingly better the more you practice.

And so, by practicing gratitude, you will start to see an increase in all the amazing things life has to offer. This, without increasing the number of amazing things that actually happen. This will ultimately help you to discover the abundance in your life!

Why you should be practicing gratitude

So we’ve already touched upon why practicing gratitude can be so amazing – to deeply experience positive emotions and abundance. You do this by entering a state of gratefulness, which for a certain amount of time colors your mood and feeling tone to be immensely positive. 

Here are some of its most prominent benefits according to research!

  • It reduces stress
  • Increases happiness
  • Improves close relationships
  • It makes you less self-centered
  • Improves your sleep

So you see, by practicing this concept, you will probably be better off in most, if not all, of life’s endeavors. Be it mental health, your work life, social life, your physical health, you name it and gratitude can improve it – directly or indirectly.

Now I want you to think about how these benefits could apply to you. How do you think gratitude can improve your relationships? How can it improve your happiness? Go through the list and make yourself excited for the practice!

Don’t worry if you aren’t yet able to see how the benefits might apply to your life. Just be convinced that it will make a difference because trust me, it will!

How predisposed to practicing gratitude are you?

We tend to measure everything nowadays and even gratitude can be measured! We’re talking about how likely you are to experience a lot of grateful feelings as opposed to a little. This can tell you how predisposed you are to practicing gratitude. 

Do keep in mind that even if you score low on this test, it’s just a test. It wouldn’t mean that you aren’t able to begin practicing it. Quite the opposite, actually. If you score low on this test you know that there is even more to gain, which should motivate you. Let’s do the test!

The Gratitude Questionnaire-Six Item Form

What does your score mean?

  • If you scored below 35 (out of 42), then you are in the bottom quarter of the sample group (1224 people).
  • If you scored below 38, then you are in the bottom half of the sample group.
  • If you scored a 41, you scored higher than 75% of the sample group.
  • And if you scored a maximum of 42 points, you are in the top 13% of the sample group.

This sample group is from a spirituality and health website. So if you didn’t do very well on this test, there are no hard conclusions to be drawn here, it’s just an indication.

Now you roughly know where you stand on the gratitude scale, it’s time to start taking action!

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How can you start practicing it?

There are a lot of things you can do to begin practicing gratitude. Luckily for you, most of them are fairly easy to do and implement into your life.

1. Keeping a gratitude journal

This is one of the most common ways people start practicing gratitude. Youtube is full of guides for it, you can buy journals of gratitude, or find templates all over the internet. But in the end, they all serve the same purpose and a few basic principles are in place.

Always start a journal entry with ‘’I am grateful for…’’. This establishes the connection between you and the other person, thing, or experience. Then, write down something you’re grateful for, but be specific. If you write ‘’I’m grateful for my best friend’’, you most likely won’t feel a lot of the feelings we’re looking to feel.

Instead, you could write ‘’I’m grateful for my best friend because he’s helped me grow as a person [by doing this and that], is always there for me and enables me to be my best self.’’ 

This is specific and invokes a lot more feeling than a general statement. You actually describe what makes you feel grateful about that person or thing. 

Most people tend to write in their journal when they wake up or when they’re about to go to sleep. It makes sense since you will start and end your day on a positive note.

Deeply experience all the feelings that come up when you write in your journal!

2. Gratitude meditation

If you’re completely new to meditation, we recommend you read this post about mindfulness before you read on. 

The two basic methods for meditation described there is a good basis to start this meditation from. What you do differently now is, instead of ‘scanning’ your body or focusing on your breathing, you reflect on all the things that you’re grateful for.

Make sure that you are able to relax your body and mind before you start incorporating gratitude into it.

When you’ve recalled a list of things you’re grateful for, end the meditation with a closing affirmation/appreciative line. This could be something like ‘’thank you for all the beautiful things in my life. May these acts of gratitude continue to improve my well-being and love.’’

Be sure to make this a personal statement you deeply resonate with!

3. Make a visual gratitude board

If you’re a bit of an arts and crafts person, this might just be perfect for you!

All you really do is visualize your gratitude journal. Humans also tend to be visual creatures, possibly making this a more effective method of practicing it as well. You can add pictures, drawings, anything that visualizes what you’re grateful for.

Try to add between 1 to 3 things to your board every day. When your board is full, take a picture so you can look back at this period of gratitude. Then begin again and continue to fill your board!

4. Turn ‘standard’ expressions of gratitude into gratitude practice

Instead of saying a meaningless ‘’thank you’’ as we talked about in the beginning. Sincerely say ‘’thanks, I really appreciate it because [why you’re grateful].’’

This will create an upwards spiral of positive feelings as you will have made someone else feel good, which makes you feel good and this will project itself onto further encounters during the day. You could also look at it as a rippling effect in a pond, everyone gets infected with positivity!

5. Bonus: a few other possibilities for practicing gratitude

  • Gratitude box (put a few notes of gratitude in the box every day, possibly share with loved ones)
  • Gratitude item (get a small item which, throughout the day, will remind you to be grateful/express gratitude)
  • Gratitude walk (take a stroll and look at the beauty of the world, be grateful for that)
  • Creations of gratitude (craft some decorative pieces with notes or messages of gratitude)
  • Letter of gratitude (send someone a letter with a bunch of things you’re grateful for)

How to make this practice a habit

If you don’t practice gratitude (nearly) every day, you will miss out on most of the possible benefits. That’s why it’s incredibly important to make this a habit. So, how do you do it?

It’s fairly simple, really. Incorporate writing in your gratitude journal or doing a gratitude meditation in your morning and/or evening routine – if you have one. Practicing gratitude on set days at set times will over-time establish a connection, which will remind you to do it.

Something that can make the process of habit formation a lot easier is a habit tracking app. Here are the 6 best habit tracking apps, so you can choose which one suits you best!

What (not) to expect in this practice

Practicing gratitude can bring great changes to your life, but you shouldn’t think that this is THE thing to make your life great. It’s the compounded efforts of multiple practices like this that improve your well-being and happiness. 

Gratitude practice does, in fact, provide you with the benefits we mentioned earlier, but this will be the result of a prolonged period of practice. As with anything that’s called a practice, you get better at it the more you do it. So don’t expect a quick fix, we’re looking for sustainable growth!

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How practicing gratitude will change your life

Over time, you will begin to see various patterns when practicing gratitude. The most important one (the one that can change your life) is that you will realize that happiness is partially a choice. 

When practicing gratitude you, in some way, choose to be happy by focusing on the things you’re grateful for. The same can be done without expressing gratitude by just thinking of the good things in your life. And while this might be considered outside the realm of gratitude practice, it will be easier for you to choose happiness when you’ve practiced gratitude for a longer period of time. 

This is the thought we wanted to leave you with today. Let it sink in and realize that there’s much more hiding behind every practice than you might think at first.

Thank you for spending your time here today, it’s greatly appreciated. If you enjoyed this post or got any value out of it, please consider sharing it, liking it, or doing whatever you see fit to get it out there!

Hope to see you around someday, have a good one!

Follow Joep’s blog and his social media sites!


Sources:

(Gratitude and Well Being – The Benefits of Appreciation, Randy & Lori A. Sansone, 2010)

Hi! I’m Joep, creator of Spark My Development. I made my blog out of a desire to help people succeed in life, whatever that means for them. That’s why I share how-to’s, tools, and insights about everything self-improvement, mindfulness (mind), and health (body). Have a look and let a single spark ignite the flame of your development journey! Check out my blog https://www.thinkwelldobetter.com/

52 Comments

    • Joep

      Exactly! Negativity and fear are nearly ruling our day-to-day life right now. Good to hear that a gratitude journal has helped you so much!

  • Ali Duke

    I have had a gratitude journal for a while now. It really does give me a good and happy start to the day when I write in it.

  • hanmorris97

    This is such an amazing post! I’ve been wanting to look into and start practicing gratitude and you’ve really inspired me to start doing it, it sounds very beneficial xx

    • Joep

      My goal is accomplished, I’m really glad you got inspired by this post! I wish you the best of luck with the practice!

  • Lisamarie

    One of my favorite things to do is to tweet what I am grateful for and then ask other’s what they are grateful for! I agree 100% with the benefits of being grateful! One of my favorite things to ever watch was 3 hours straight of Brandon Farris saying what he is grateful for! in some aspects it was just hilarious but the reality of it is being a grateful person makes you a beautiful person. Love this post! Thank you for sharing

    • Joep

      Great to hear that you provoke others to be grateful as well! This shows that gratitude is not something that’s only to be done by yourself. Keep on being beautiful!

    • Joep

      Thank you, Martha! These daily little practices, however small, ultimately make the big differences in our lives. Have a good one!

  • Beaton

    I have always been journaling since I could write my name I didnt realise until I ran into into gratitude journals that I had already been doing a version of this so adopting it was relatively easy.

    ~B

  • Syl

    Great post. I wish more people had/use gratitude more often. It truly does make you a happier person. I could use a few of the tips listed and will try and implement them more often.

  • lynnmumbingmejia

    I love this so much! Being grateful for what I have is so important to me. I say my gratitude and affirmations out loud and keep a little notebook too. I also made a vision board earlier this year that motivates me so much! Thanks for sharing x

    http://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

    • Joep

      I love to hear that you’re implementing multiple methods! Good point on saying your affirmations and gratitude out loud as well. Can be a bit awkward in the beginning, but it definitely adds value to the practice!

  • Lisa

    Thanks for sharing this post! I think gratitude is something that we’re all starting to pay a bit more attention too this year. If everyone keeps a gratitude journal the world would be a better place! You also made a good point about using it in conversations in ever day life! Great work ☺️

    Theblogofa20somethingyearold.com

    • Joep

      You’re absolutely right! I think the pandemic has sparked the need for this in many people. This shows, once again, that there are always upsides to the downsides in life!

  • Nicci

    This is such a good post! I’ve been trying to practice it more during lockdown because it’s been easy to just think that everything is going wrong! I still scored low on the test but I’m looking forward to making small changes and appreciating small things more!

    • Joep

      Thank you, Nicci! The low test score means that you probably have more to gain from the practice than some others, which, in my opinion, is very valuable. Good luck with the practice!

  • thethinkgoodfactor

    I absolutely agree, practicing gratitude is so important for us to lead a happy and fulfilled life. I try to make a gratitude list once every so often and really love how many things come to mind that I’m grateful for 😊

  • Tiffany McCullough - Metaphysical Mama

    This is a wonderful post! Practicing gratitude has made such a big difference in my life! It has helped me change my mindset and learn how to focus on what’s going right instead of alway looking for what’s going wrong. I love the idea of a gratitude box! I definitly have to try that. Thank you for sharing!

    • Joep

      Really amazing how much people can benefit from it! Keeping it fun with a board or box doesn’t hurt either, right 🙂 Thank you for the comment!

  • Molly @ Transatlantic Notes

    I think you’ve explained it perfectly here, gratitude is something we can all practice and benefit from. If we make it a habit, I truly believe it can assist with so many things, not least dealing with harder times when they come. Thanks for this!

  • Jaya Avendel

    Thank you, thank you for pointing out that gratitude is only one of many practices that combine to help nurture happiness in our lives! Gratitude is a wonderful thing to practice and keeping a gratitude journal is not only a way to make gratitude a habit but also to have something inspiring to look at when you are feeling down. 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Joep

      You’re absolutely right! I love to see and hear about how people relate the things outlined in this post to themselves, all in different ways. Thanks for showing this in your comment!

  • therunningbaker24Jeannie

    I am very much grateful for the opportunity to do what I like to do and at the same time work in a different country. Now that Im about to reach another milestone living in another country it makes me look back from the time how I started. Thanks for this article such a great reminder to be humble.

  • Samiksha

    I have been reading about gratitude for some time now, but was never able to put it into practice. Your article is really informative and has given me a few solid ideas to start with.

    • Joep

      I’m very happy that I could get you on your way with this practice. This is why I write, to try and get people going in the direction they want to go!

  • Juliette

    Great post! I love the idea of turning a “standard” gratitude expression into something a bit more meaningful, and I’ll definitely try to include it in my daily life! I have recently started writing down things I am grateful for but I realize that I don’t always do it correctly: sometimes it feels more like a to-do than a “slowing down” process, but I am slowly getting better at it 😊

    • Joep

      Thank you, Juliette! I must say I’ve experienced this ‘to-do’ feeling myself as well, when just starting with this practice. I took comfort in knowing that every time I practice, I will become better at it and feel better through doing it. Hope this might help you further. All the best!

  • mindbeautysimplicity

    Gratitude is so underrated. I kept a gratitude journal for an entire year and it truly changed my life for the better. Speaking more positive and being kinder to myself lead me to a happier life. who knew it could be that easy? haha

    Great read!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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