There you are scrolling through Instagram and seeing one post after another remind you that you MUST HAVE a written gratitude practice.
These posts might promise that your life will completely transform if you simply purchase a gratitude journal and write 5-10 things you’re grateful for.
Gratitude is awesome. I happen to love gratitude journaling. But, honestly, after a while, it felt kind of forced. So I stopped my written gratitude journaling practice and started weaving in various ways to practice gratitude, in a very practical way.
Having a gratitude practice provides many mind + body benefits, and an overall sense of heightened well-being. The latest gratitude research suggests that benefits range from feeling happier, more motivated, and experiencing healthier relationships.
So, if you’ve tried the gratitude journaling thing, and it didn’t stick, no worries. I’m going to share four (4) easy ways to practice gratitude without having to invest in more gratitude journals you might never use.
1. Send a Random Text
This is one of the most practical ways to practice gratitude because we always have our phones on us. Take a few minute breather from the gram or whatever social media app pulls you in the most, and choose 1-3 people to send a random text message expressing your gratitude for something they’ve done for you, or just generally thanking them for the way they’ve showed up in your life.
Be specific. Don’t send a boilerplate message like “I’m so grateful for you.” While any expression of gratitude is nice, the real rasa, or juice of life, in expressing, and for the person receiving the gratitude, is when you specify what they actually did and the person they were to you that made a positive difference. This makes your expression authentic, unique, and very connecting.
2. Say It To Yourself
That’s right. Talk to yourself, but do it in a good way. (Wink. Wink.) When you get up in the morning, when you drink your coffee or tea, when you take a walk or exercise, when you are driving to work, when you close your meditation (if you have a practice), say, “I’m grateful for _______.” Simply fill in the blank.
I tell my students to try to say something beyond the common “friends and family” answer. We typically take for granted the small things we enjoy in our modern tech life, so we just gloss over them.
Here are some suggestions to get you started, “I’m grateful for… clean water to drink, warm water to shower in, money in my bank to buy things I want and need, a good hair day, the way the sun feels on my skin when I’m walking, the smell of fresh jasmine flowers at the height of spring, etc.”
You get the gist, right?
The utility of this method is unbelievable, because it travels with you everywhere, and you can use it at any time.
3. Post on Social Media
Social media has its pros and cons. I love SM. It’s a great way to connect, share ideas, and learn. But, you must have some self-control to use it wisely as a tool, instead of the tool using you.
Post your gratitude on social media, and inspire and empower others to do the same. This is the good stuff on SM. When you read posts from people authentically sharing what they’re grateful for despite the challenges they’re facing or have been through.
Shout someone out. Tag a friend. Tag a teacher. Tag a parent. Tag someone you follow and let them know how grateful you are for the content they share, and how it’s impacted you personally and professionally.
This practice can 100x the effects of the gratitude you’re sharing. How? Because you have the potential to reach many eyeballs looking for inspiration and the good-feeling vibes, and your one (1) post not only positively impacts you and the person you might be tagging (if you are sharing that you’re grateful for a person as opposed to an object or natural resource), but potentially every single person that reads your post.
There’s research to back this up too. Renegade Global CEO and Founder, and author of Renegades Write the Rules, Amy Jo Martin, teamed up with a social scientist to study the impact of these kinds of social media posts. They discovered that they have a positive social impact at mass scale.
4. Tell Someone In Person
If you’re like most humans, you are likely running around trying to keep up with life, sharing schedules, making sure everyone in your family is up to date with the weekly schedule, and doing the same at work, whatever your profession is. True connection takes time, and in today’s world, there seems to be very little of it – both time and authentic connection.
Slow yourself down, and reach out to someone in person at home and in your professional life, and let them know you’re grateful for their presence in your life. Don’t stop there. Tell them exactly what you’re grateful for. Be specific. And say it with heart. Gratitude sharing isn’t a business transaction to be checked off your list, it’s a heart-to-heart connection meant to be felt.
Ask someone for a quick stand up talk, schedule a walk and talk, a coffee meet up, or have someone sit and chat with you for a few. Do this anytime. There is no perfect time to do it. The perfect time is anytime. The random expression is the most genuine kind.
If you can’t meet the person face-to-face, then reach out for a video call or a regular phone call. Doing this takes a little more time than a random text message, but it also has a more personable and connecting impact.
There you have it. Four easy ways to practice some practical gratitude. No gratitude journal needed. All you need is a little bit of time, intention, and the willingness to open your heart.
Happiness, motivation, healthier relationships, and joy are things we all want. While we might be trying to find them in travels across the world, the latest and greatest self-help technique, or a new personal development seminar, these simple practices have the power to heighten your overall sense of well-being and positively impact someone’s life. And the best part, they’re free with at-scale mindy, body, heart benefits.