Side view of girl standing outside looking at sky with hands together as if praying.

How to Make Gratitude a Daily Part of Life

Have you heard the famous Brene Brown quote: “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness--it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude”?

Of course, there’s a laundry list of reasons this quote is so famous, but one of my personal takeaways is to find happiness, you must first practice gratitude.

Let’s allow that to truly sink in for a moment because that’s a big ship.

Often times, we have this backwards truth on gratefulness: you are happy, thus it’s easier to practice gratitude. Of course, on certain holidays like Thanksgiving, a holiday dedicated to shifting our attention and practicing gratitude, we can find those moments of happiness and joy in our ordinary so simply. But what about every other day? It seems easy enough to pay attention and practice gratitude, right?

Wrong. (At least not for some of us. Tell us we’re not alone.)

Holiday shopping season hits and before we know it, the “attitude of gratitude” is dwindling, and extreme frustration for things like parking far, far away from the store is steadily growing. The ability to pay attention and practice gratitude slowly creeping out the door saying, “Until next time!”

It may seem silly, but it’s true. Trying moments, however big or small, will forever sneak their way into our lives. Chaos can blur our vision, and we lose sight of what’s important.

Practicing gratitude is similar to changing your diet or exercise routine. It’s a habit that has to be prioritized and practiced in order to reap benefits! So the real question is, how do we manage to make gratitude a part of our day-to-day routine? How do we continue to pay attention and practice gratefulness, so we can continue to see those joyous moments for everything they are?

Here’s a list of our favorites for making gratitude your attitude. Just simple acts of kindness and graciousness that are straight-forward, allow you to shift your focus, and leave you with a happier (and healthier) mind, body, and spirit.

Ways to Make Gratitude a Daily Part of Life:

  1. Extend a genuine “thank you” to someone! Seriously, anyone. As random as it may seem initially, you’ll be forced to remind yourself of the wonderful people, places, and things you have in your life. Your mom, friend, or barista could all use a genuine “I appreciate you.” Tell your fur baby thank you for all the sweet cuddles and long, soulful stares! It doesn’t have to be deeply poetic or monumental, but choose a day, and make it a priority to give out a genuine “thank you” at least once.
  1. Start a gratitude journal! Jotting down things you’re thankful for every morning or night is one of my favorite ways to remind myself of those little moments that really make up the day. Taking the day step by step forces me to acknowledge those random bits of kindness and sunshine sprinkled throughout my day and always leave me feeling more grateful than when I began the entry. When I’m short on time, simply jotting down 3 things I’m thankful for does the trick too! If you like to mix things up, you can even Google “Gratitude Journal Entry Topics” for different prompts and inspiration!
  1. Volunteer! It may be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Not only will volunteering make you experience more gratitude, but studies have shown that volunteering for the purpose of helping others increases our own well-being, and thus our ability to have more gratitude. Helping others out of sheer generosity allows us to have a greater capacity for gratitude! If you’re struggling to find a way to express your thankfulness and volunteering interests you, find a local organization and start spreading the love!
  1. Make a gratitude collage! We have all heard about vision boards and the beauty they can bring, but what about a gratitude collage? Visualization is such a powerful tool! Create a board with everything you’re grateful for such as pictures of friends, a sunny day, your favorite book, etc. and place it somewhere you will see every day! We also love the idea of creating an online gratitude collage! You can set it as your wallpaper or screensaver to be reminded of everything you’re grateful for each time you sit down at your computer.
  1. Wear jewelry! Stick with me on this one. A few years back, I read an article about finding something that reminds you to give thanks. The next day, I found a simple bracelet I could wear every day. I decided each time I looked at the bracelet, I would say something I was grateful for! It’s kind of amazing how many times that bracelet snuck its way into my eyesight. It truly set a different pace for me throughout my entire day; actively practicing gratitude throughout my day seemed to constantly open doors for more joyous moments.
  1. Swap your lens! Sometimes, the frustrating moments in life are frustrating because we see “we’re late”, or “the vacation simply did not go as planned.” But it’s all about what lens you view those moments with. Were you late because of horrible traffic? You can choose to be frustrated with traffic or appreciate those (out-of-your-control) moments because you could finally finish that Podcast episode, and you got to see that sweet family of ducks cross the street safely. Did it rain the entire beach vacation? You can choose to be upset about the weather or remember all of the quality-time moments from fun games and late night chats that you would’ve been too tired to have after a day out in the sun. Every time you see a frustrating moment creep up, take a moment to swap your lens and view the moment through positivity and gratefulness.
  1. Include random acts of kindness in your day. Doesn’t it bring a smile to your face when someone offers to let you go in front of them in the grocery store when you only have a handful of items? How about when someone pays you a kind compliment just because, or you hit the random act of kindness jackpot and the person in front of you pays for your coffee in the drive thru? Sprinkling random acts of kindness into your day can brighten a stranger’s day, allowing them to express gratitude more readily, and it will brighten your day! Helping others always helps you.

Give yourself gratitude! Some people call it a general body scan, but the practice of lying still for a few minutes and telling your feet, legs, torso, heart, etc. “thank you” is an effective method for appreciating yourself. Giving yourself appreciation for going to that yoga class when you were tired or working extra hard on a project will boost your mental and physical health. Always make sure to check in with yourself and give yourself kudos. You’re doing awesome!