Many of us are aware that gratitude has a positive effect on our quality of life; less anxiety, more happiness, better health. But what does it actually mean to ‘practice gratitude’?

For me, part of my personal mission is to live intentionally and this extends beyond goal setting and achieving (I have many articles on those subjects!). In order for gratitude to have an impact, I have learned that I have to be intentional about it, and not just wait for opportunities to be grateful.

My personal practice includes thinking of three things I am grateful for each morning before I climb out of bed. My Planner begins each week by writing down three entries of gratitude. Others reflect daily in their journal about gratitude. The possibilities are endless and don’t require any special tools or training. Gratitude is free.

What works best for you? Do you have a routine or time of day that lends itself to practicing gratitude? Once you have determined the right cadence and method of expressing gratitude, how do you know what kinds of things you should think or write about? Don’t limit yourself to the usual suspects; good health, good friends, etc.

Open up to all the possible things in your world:

  • People
  • Events
  • Talents
  • Experiences
  • Where you live
  • Nature
  • Activities
  • Work
  • Community involvement
  • Volunteer

And this is just the beginning. What is important is that you are specific in your gratitude. We want this to be meaningful, and just like praising a child or employee, it will have a greater impact when it’s specific and not general. For example, “I am grateful for Felicity's awesome editing skills (and her willingness to help)” is much better than “I am grateful for great friends."

Being specific does two things:

  1. Makes the sentiment more tangible and therefore stickier in your mind.
  2. Allows you to come up with many more things to be grateful for.

Finally, don’t just mention the big things. I often find gratitude watching my husband cooking dinner or reading a funny text from my daughter. Can you imagine how much stronger your relationships could be if you continually reminded yourself of the many great things the people around you do with and for you? We are hard-wired to look for faults and allow that bias to color our perceptions and emotions towards those closest to us (or is that just me?).

So are you ready to reap the benefits of practicing gratitude? Start by determining how best to incorporate practicing gratitude into your daily routine (or weekly if you want to start slow). Stick to it for a month and notice how your overall feelings of happiness and anxiety shift. If you are like me, you will wonder why you didn’t start this practice sooner.

Cheri Kuhn is a Professional EOS Implementer and founder of the Perfect Planner. Read her leadership blogs at traction-advantage.com/news/.

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