I’ve given dozens of talks about gratitude.
I’ve also talked to lots of people about it.
And here’s what I’ve learned…
Gratitude can transform any situation. It can pull us from the vortex of fear and negativity that is sucking the life out of us and give us a renewed sense of hope, faith, and joy.
I’ve also learned that many people struggle with their gratitude practice. They treat it as an intellectual exercise where they write the same things down every day. So, they don’t receive the greatest benefits of practicing gratitude.
If you haven’t noticed a positive shift in your life from writing down what you’re grateful for, here are 30 ways to supercharge your gratitude practice:
1. Appreciate something you see in nature. Take a few moments to notice the majesty of nature. The strength of the mountain. The miracle of a single flower. The beauty and resiliency of a tree. When you appreciate nature, you feel awe and joy and are whole again.
2. Think of three wonderful teachers you’ve had. Even if you can’t remember their names, you had teachers and mentors who have made your life significantly better. People who taught you how to read or made you feel smart and capable or encouraged you to pursue a dream.
3. Remember three of the best days of your life. Most people immediately think of big milestone events, such as the days their children were born or the day they got married. Go beyond the obvious days to the “ordinary” days that were quite extraordinary: days spent with family and friends, doing enjoyable, yet average things, or a day you launched a business or got a new job or puppy.
4. Become aware of three things you can see. If you’re reading this right now, you can see. That’s a wonderful gift. Show your gratitude for this gift by appreciating three things you can see right now.
5. Think about something your body does for you. Your body digests your food, eliminates wastes, and heals you. Think of something your body is doing right now that you are grateful for.
6. Name three friends you have or had in your life. Name three people who you have very fond memories of, and let those memories bring a smile to your face.
7. Remember music that you love. Music can touch our soul and make our hearts soar. Who’s your favorite artist, or what are a few of your favorite songs?
8. Identify three things you like to smell. What do you enjoy the smell of—your perfume, freshly baked croissants, a specific hand lotion?
9. Remember your happiest childhood memory. Was it a holiday? A surprise gift? A wonderful day with the family? Name it and be thankful for the memory.
10. List three foods you love to eat. Think of three foods that you love and imagine that you’re enjoying them right now. Yum!
11. Describe the biggest accomplishment of your life. What was it, and what did you discover about yourself to be able to get it done?
12. Think of three animals you love(d). Is there a current or childhood pet that you adore? Or birds outside your window that wake you up each morning with their songs? A kitten or chickens at a neighbor’s home? Let thoughts of them warm your heart.
13. Think of your dearest friend. Who is the first person you call with news about your life or the world? How does he or she make you feel each day? Express your gratitude for them now.
14. Describe three things you’re good at. Take some time to acknowledge and appreciate some of your skills, talents, and strengths.
15. Think of a hobby that brings you joy. Name something that you do for fun that engrosses you, makes you happy and allows you to lose time.
16. Identify three things you can hear. Get quiet. What sounds can you hear? What sounds do you like to hear? Express gratitude for the gift of hearing.
17. Bring a family tradition that you’re most grateful for to mind. Does your family have a holiday tradition that you love? Do you offer thanks before each meal? Do you always eat Sunday dinner together? Name a tradition that brings joy to your heart.
18. Think of three things that make you laugh. Playing with my dogs, talking with my nieces, and remembering my big Labrador, Sam the Man jumping on Bob’s lap, all make me laugh. What about you?
19. Recall something you learned this week. Have you learned something recently that will improve your relationships, gave you hope, or will make you better at your job?
20. Remember three people who hired you. The law professor who hired you as his summer assistant. The young entrepreneur who gave you a temp job during your junior year in college. The large firm that gave you your first real job. Who made a difference by giving you a job or an opportunity?
21. Give thanks for the person who made you smile within the past 24 hours. Each time you smile, it raises your vibration. Who did that for you in the past 24 hours?
22. List three books you love. As a person who studies every day, I love books! Three that come to mind are The Hidden Power, The Science of Getting Rich, and Your Invisible Power.
23. Describe one way your life is better today than it was a year ago. Maybe you’re earning more money, a relationship has improved, or you are healthier. Find something that has improved over the past 12 months and give thanks for it.
24. Name three things you enjoy touching/feeling. Sand between your toes; fresh, clean sheets when you get into bed; warm towels straight out of the dryer. What comes to your mind?
25. Describe a recent challenge or obstacle that you overcame. Rather than just moving on, take a minute to acknowledge, celebrate, and be thankful for overcoming a recent setback, obstacle, or fear.
26. Identify three things you are looking forward to in the next year. Bob and I are big proponents of setting goals that excite us. So, there are several things we are looking forward to next year. Write down what you are looking forward to.
27. Name the favorite part of your daily routine. For me, it’s my morning routine because it sets the stage for the rest of my day. The things I love the most about my mornings are practicing gratitude, visioneering, and studying.
28. List three simple pleasures that make you feel good. Your morning cup of coffee or tea? Warm bubble baths? Walking your dogs?
29. Identify three things you take for granted. Sometimes I take breathing fresh air, my eyesight, and electricity for granted. Name three “everyday” things to be grateful for today.
30. Remember three opportunities that improved your life. From chances to advance in your work to developing meaningful relationships to serving your country, name three opportunities that have had a positive impact on your life.
What I’ve learned from a decade of practice
I’ve been experimenting with a daily gratitude practice for more than ten years, and it has had a huge impact on my life.
Here are the three most important things I’ve learned about it:
• Practicing gratitude requires consistency—the more you do it, the better you become at it, and the easier it is to stay in a positive and grateful frame of mind.
• To reap the full rewards of gratitude, you have to do more than write things down. You also have to really feel the gratitude.
• Being grateful for things that haven’t happened yet helps to bring your desires to fruition.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude changes lives. That’s a bold statement, but it’s backed up by science, theology, and experience.
While expressing gratitude doesn’t change your immediate circumstances, it does change your heart. And that sets the stage for improving your life from the inside out.
To more and better,