6 Ways to Practice Daily Gratitude

The proof is in the science: Practicing daily gratitude makes you happier

daily gratitude

Research has consistently shown that gratitude can help people develop more positive emotions, improve their overall health, deal more effectively with adversity, and build stronger relationships. A 2011 Harvard Medical School study found that people who journaled regularly about the moments they felt grateful for were more optimistic about their lives than those who did not. They also ended up exercising more and having fewer visits to the doctor.

I’ve witnessed firsthand how daily gratitude works. Since I began practicing daily gratitude myself, I’ve seen a significant reduction in stress. I also feel happier and more productive. Rather than focusing on negative emotions, I give a silent thanks every night for positive things that have come my way. It can be as simple as giving thanks for a good night’s sleep or a nice conversation.

If you want to see what giving thanks can do for you, here are six easy ways to practice daily gratitude:

Gratitude journal with pen, cup and flowers
Keeping a gratitude journal at your bedside is one of the simplest ways to establish — and stick with — a daily gratitude practice. // Photo: IStock

Start a gratitude journal

One of the most common ways to practice daily gratitude is to journal. Most people opt to journal at night, which can help promote restful sleep. You can write a nightly list of three things you’re grateful for that happened that day, or you can write at greater length about your feelings of gratitude. The best way to stick to this habit is to keep a journal close at hand on your nightstand.

Give thanks before a meal

It’s a daily practice some already do, but an easy way to add a quick burst of gratitude into your life is to give thanks before a meal. This is something that can be shared out loud or said silently to yourself. What you’re grateful for is ultimately up to you — perhaps you’re grateful for the meal itself, the people you’re sharing it with, or that you’ve cooked something delicious.

Take short gratitude breaks

Gratitude doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be as effortless as taking a short break. Spend a few minutes outside, in a room that makes you feel peaceful, or petting your dog or cat if you have one. During this time, breathe slowly while concentrating on your surroundings. You can also meditate. Pick a few things to be grateful for and think about why they make
you happy.

gratitude jar
Note to self — jotting down things you are grateful for is a great way to reinforce your gratitude. Read a note when you need a smile. // Photo: IStock

Develop a mantra

While repeating a phrase over and over may sound silly, developing a mantra can lead to reduced anxiety, less fatigue, and improved mood and well-being. It can also improve visual and verbal memory. A mantra is a great way to practice daily gratitude because it’s simple. It can be a phrase you say to yourself every morning (“Today is a good day,” for example.), or it could be something you put into your line of vision, like a Post-it note with your favorite mantra on it.

Turn gratitude into art

Seeing gratitude in real life can make you appreciate it that much more. Gratitude mapping — creating a visual mood board of things you’re grateful for — can be a great resource for visual learners. Gratitude jars are another creative strategy. Write down good things that happen to you, put them in a jar, collect your notes over time, and take one out when you need a quick smile.

Share your gratitude

There’s arguably no better way to practice daily gratitude than by sharing your thanks with those around you. Volunteering, random acts of kindness, and even reaching out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while is a fulfilling way to feel thankful — and to help others feel good as well.