One of my friends started sharing a daily list of things she was grateful for on Instagram. Honestly, I loved reading her list at the end of the day. The more she did it, the more I realized I was running through my own things to be grateful for and started to share my own lists online.
I can’t remember when I started, but I think it’s been over a month? (The days are blending together!) It has been a fantastic practice and one I hope to continue past the pandemic. There will likely be a day when I decide to take it “offline,” but for now I’ll continue to share on stories.
There is a TON of research on gratitude and why it’s such an amazing thing to practice more of. It’s been found to increase happiness, increase mental and physical health, lower stress, lower materialism, increase empathy, etc.
I’m no scientist, but I thought I’d share some of the ways it’s helped me:
– Throughout the day, I’m taking note of things to “add to my list.” While this seems like I’m mining for content in my daily life, it’s actually making me more in tune with finding things to be grateful for. I’m on the hunt for the good and, as a result, I definitely find more good. And since I’m looking for good, I find myself able to let go of the bad faster. (It’s there, trust me, I don’t want to say I’m immune to feeling anxiety because it’s definitely worse now, but I can sort of get “out” of the bad cycles better, if that makes any sense.)
– I go to bed with gratitude on my mind. My bad thoughts tend to peak at night (of course, right before I’m trying to fall asleep). By doing the gratitude list right before sleeping, I am going to bed with gratitude on my mind. It doesn’t always do the trick, but it definitely helps. I go through my whole day, thinking about what I did taking note of all the good. Even if I had a bad day, I’m still just thinking about the good parts, as small as they may be.
– Speaking of which, the harder the day, the harder it can be to think of things to be grateful for and that’s where I think the real “magic” comes into play. Those are days where I would generally just write the whole thing off as bad, but forcing myself to do this exercise keeps gratitude top of mind. And I can always think of a few things even if at first it seems impossible.
– Sometimes the tiniest things fill me with the most gratitude. This surprises me every time it happens, but sometimes I feel my whole body “glow” with gratitude (if you’ve ever done a meditation picturing liquid sunshine filling your body, that’s the feeling!) over the smallest moments. A funny face one of the dogs made, a hug from Mike, feeling the warmth from the sun on my face.
Incorporating gratitude into your life can happen in many ways, I think the real trick is just deciding to do it and committing to the practice daily, whatever that means for you.
– Jot down moments of gratitude in a special note on your phone.
– Start your morning with a gratitude meditation or end your day with a mental refresher of what you were grateful for
– Say it out loud! I have found that it’s super contagious and it if I verbally acknowledge being grateful for something, it seems to also make the other person I’m with (which right now is 100% Mike, so admittedly my sample size is quite limited) grateful as well.