So, you’ve been sold on the many benefits of gratitude and you’ve got your brand new gratitude journal – but how exactly are you supposed to do this daily gratitude thing?
Turns out, it’ll be one of the easiest changes in your life you’ve ever made.
Because unlike things like New Year’s Resolutions or learning a new musical instrument, a daily gratitude practice is simple, quick, free, and takes almost no time to get started.
Today, we are going to share a little bit with you about how we got started with our daily gratitude practice, how it changed our lives, and ultimately inspired a line of books that we love to share with others.
Signs You Could Benefit from Daily Gratitude:
For most of us, we are in constant motion. Our culture really prides itself on being “busy”, so sometimes we keep busy, even when we aren’t really busy. Not only are we on a rat race to nowhere, but we are also constantly distracted by social media, tv, computers, video games, laptops, traffic, not to mention – everything going on in the world and all the things we actually have to do to keep the wheels on the car, so to speak.
This is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. This endless go-go-go-go mindset leaves very little time for recharging, reenergizing, and reflecting. Here are some signs that you might be depleted and running on fumes and you are in need of what we like to call “soul food” – or activities/practices that replenish the soul, like gratitude journalling and self-care:
- When you drive somewhere familiar – like the route to your gym or grocery store, you realize you were driving on auto-pilot and your brain wasn’t actively paying attention to what you were physically doing. Your mind was completely elsewhere.
- When you go to bed at night, your brain won’t shut off even if you are exhausted. You might struggle with insomnia, anxious thoughts or nightmares, too.
- When your watching a tv show or movie that you haven’t seen and want to watch, you realize part of the way through that you have actually not been paying attention and your mind has been wandering.
- You’re more forgetful than usual – not remembering where things are or your schedule like you normally would
- You are falling prey to the comparison game or imposter syndrome, where you are starting to feel heavy or burdened when looking at what others have accomplished, achieved and attained and then feeling like you are an imposter in your own life. You might struggle to feel good enough or have feelings of insecurity creeping in.
- You get to the end of the day and realize you didn’t have even a few moments of quiet, focused time. Your mind and body were on-the-go nonstop. Sometimes, it’s even just our minds, but having too many tabs open and racing from one thing to the other has left you feeling like your body was running a marathon, too.
- You have been struggling with more anxious, low, sad, or heavy feelings and thoughts than usual.
We totally feel you. In fact, it was exactly these thoughts and feelings that led us to start our daily gratitude practice several years ago and we haven’t looked back since.
After slowing down, carving out time to be quiet and reflect, and returning to basics, like – scheduling daily gratitude, scheduling in workouts, taking time to meal plan each week, journalling at night to help with insomnia, practicing affirmations, and just making time to do things like art therapy – we started to feel things shift back into place in our lives. Calm returned. Our ability to handle stressful times got better. Our schedules stopped overflowing. Our health got better.
We are a living, breathing, real life example of the power of starting with a simple daily gratitude practice and watching the changes unfold.
Tips for Starting a Daily Gratitude Practice:
Since one of the main goals of a daily gratitude practice is to really establish your mindset for the day and carve out a few self-care moments for mindfulness, we usually recommend doing your daily gratitude in the morning.
Here is the quick list of tips for how to get started and then read below for more specifics based on how much time you have for your practice:
- Set a time and stick to it. Put it on your calendar or phone if you have to. We like first thing in the morning.
- Commit to following through for a set period of time before you give up. Give it at least a month, if not longer.
- Keep your gratitude journal near the area where you will be when you have set time to do it.
- Don’t quit once you start to feel the benefits kick in – it just keeps getting better!
Now, let’s talk about different ways to practice gratitude, and don’t worry, you won’t have to journal until your hands fall off or do any weird bodily poses to get in the zone. Daily gratitude can even be something you do out loud while you’re getting ready.
If you’re anything like us over here, you can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to get ready, so that leaves you plenty of time to sneak in some gratitude – instead of all the other swimming thoughts in your head that probably aren’t doing you any good.
So, here’s a few ways to do your daily gratitude:
If You’ve Got 5-10 Minutes:
- Spend a few seconds to minutes doing some deep breathing. Simple, intentional breathing is fine, or you can try a combination of breathing exercises that work for you. Here’s a great post with some different breathing techniques that you can choose from.
- Then, after you roll out of bed, start to allow your mind to focus in on the things, people, situations and experiences that you are grateful for. Be intentional about what you focus on and allow the feelings of gratitude to sweep over you. What are the thoughts that bring you the most peace or joy?
- Try to avoid general items, unless you are in a difficult season of your life right now and that’s all you’ve got!
- After narrowing down your list to your top 4 gratitudes, write them down in a blank journal with the date or in a gratitude journal. Some gratitude journals only have space for your list of gratitude each day, while others will also include occasional journal prompts and other extras. Our gratitude journals also have affirmations, quotes, journal prompts and health benefits – with 52 weeks of daily space. Find the method that works best for YOU.
- Or, if you prefer, just write out a few lines about what you are grateful for, focusing in one one things in more detail or several things.
If You’ve Got 15-20 Minutes:
- Set the environment for your practice. Options could be sitting comfortably in your favorite spot, lighting a candle, and turning on some gentle music, like instrumental or the sound of ocean waves. Get your coffee or something you like to drink and have it nearby. If it’s chilly, get a blanket.
- Do your deep breathing for 3-5 minutes.
- Do a short meditation – using a free app like Headstrong.
- Then, begin to focus in on all the ways you are grateful.
- When you are ready, write them down.
- Repeat some of your affirmations that you are focusing on.
- Enjoy your day!
If You’ve Only Got 5 Minutes or Less:
- Keep your journal nearby while you are doing another task, such as getting ready or cooking.
- Focus your thoughts only on the many ways you are grateful, rather than worrying about your day or playing scenarios in your head for how you’re going to deal with that annoying coworker, etc.
- When you’re finished with one activity and have your hands free, jot down the gratitudes you’ve focused on.
- Continue with your day!
- Optional: repeat affirmations while you are finishing getting ready to really set your intentions for the day!
We put the 5 minute option last, because ideally – you would have 5 minutes or more for this activity, but don’t let a lack of time be the thing that keeps you from doing it.
Some mornings, we even did ours while running school carpool and included the kids in the exercise. Kids are surprisingly adept at doing this activity and it can be a neat way to start the day. How many of us would be happy to chuck those stressful school mornings out the window and usher in a new season of gratitude and affirmations in the car?
So, be intentional. Make time. Stick to it. Teach your family how to practice gratitude, too.
We hope this helps you and motivates you to get started with your daily gratitude practice. Let us know if you have any questions below!
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