Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. For me, Thanksgiving conjures up memories of seeing my family; eating turkey and my stepmother’s amazing dressing; smelling pumpkin pie; and hearing football on the television. Many families go around the table and say one thing they are thankful for before diving into their meal, but I don’t remember my family ever embracing that practice. My stepbrother will say grace if he is there with his wife and three sons. Otherwise, we eat as the TV lulls us with sounds of young men in protective gear hitting, blocking, and banging into each other on a football field.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving and I’m not picking on my family. But I can’t think of a better holiday to begin implementing a daily practice of gratitude. According to Inc Magazine, gratitude can produce happiness. (Read “14 Scientifically Proven Ways Gratitude Can Bring You Success and Happiness.”) I first learned about gratitude during my 300-hour yoga teacher training at Yoga Blend in 2013. However, I didn’t begin a daily gratitude practice until 9/20/15. I haven’t missed a day yet. Not one day. I have nine daily habits that I attempt to do every day. My gratitude practice is the only one with which I am 100-percent consistent.
There are many ways to develop a gratitude practice, but the one thing to remember is: you must do it every day to see results.
Three ways to master an attitude of gratitude
1. Write in a gratitude journal
Creating a gratitude journal and writing in it every day is the most obvious way to start your gratitude practice. This method works well for writers and kinaesthetic learners.
PROS: Easy to begin. Buy a notebook, grab a pen, and voila! Plus, you have a written record of your daily gratitude.
CONS: You have to put your journal in a place where you will see it every day. Also, you have to remember to take it with you when you are traveling.
2. Say your gratitude aloud
Saying your gratitude aloud means before falling asleep say at least one (if not two or three) thing you are grateful for that happened that day. This method works well for audio learners who remember things just by hearing them.
PROS: Easiest to begin. No paper, no pen, no phone required.
CONS: Not as easy to remember, especially if you are tired. Also, you will not have a written record of your daily gratitude. This method doesn’t work for me because I dream a lot, and talking aloud to myself before bedtime only makes my dreams worse.
3. Use a gratitude app such as Android’s Attitudes of Gratitude
Using a gratitude app may sound intimidating but it’s a digital version of having a gratitude journal. This method works well for tech nerds, visual learners, or anyone attached to their smart phone.
PROS: It’s convenient. I may not carry a journal with me when I’m traveling, but I always have my cell phone. You can customize the app to notify you when to write your gratitude, and the app provides motivational quotes. Plus, not only do you have a written record of every daily gratitude entry, but you can also export the files if you wish to do so. You can even take a photo and add it to your gratitude journal. By the way, I just discovered this feature … about ten seconds ago!
CONS: It’s a app, which intimidates some people. It takes time to install, but no more than two minutes on my AT&T LG Android. The learning curve is minimal.
Random examples from my daily gratitude practice via an app
- I am grateful for being part of such an amazing group of loving, compassionate women who are going to change the world with their fantastic coaching. 9/22/15
- I’m so happy I met Edward. So happy the universe listened. 10/3/15
- I’m grateful for my first day as a Karma Keeper at The Yoga Circle. 11/12/15
- I’m grateful my dad knows about cars and I had the good sense to call him! 11/17/15
- I’m grateful for my Hunger Games marathon with Alta. 11/28/15
- I’m so grateful for Beth’s support and friendship. 1/31/16
- I’m grateful to be nominated for the NCI Hepatobiliary Task Force. 2/2/16
- I’m so grateful for my workshop today, the ladies in it, and Natalie’s workshop tonight. 2/27/16
- I’m grateful Aunt Tootsie experienced a peaceful death. 4/24/16
- I’m grateful for this opportunity to co-author a book. 6/22/16
The thing I love most about the gratitude app is if I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is scroll through my list of daily gratitude entries. It’s incredible. I immediately feel better because I realize I have so much to be thankful/grateful for.
I recommend experimenting with the three methods above. Discover what works best for you. Just because I love an app doesn’t mean you will. The point is to begin expressing gratitude each day. Occasionally, I’ll have such a bad day that I will struggle to come up with anything, but even the smallest things count. Most of the time, I could write a full paragraph not because every day is fantastic, but because I have learned to appreciate every thing I have.
Mastering an attitude of gratitude changes your mindset. It changes your outlook. It changes your life.
P.S. Do you have a gratitude practice? What is your method? How has it helped you? Please respond in the comments. I would love to hear from you.