6 Practices to Cultivate Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving time, which means it’s our yearly reminder to be thankful for all of the wonderful things in our lives. However, gratitude is something we should remember to take part in year round - not just at the dinner table one night per year. While we’re just as thankful for turkey and stuffing as the next person, we also see Thanksgiving as the perfect opportunity to revisit the ways in which we can cultivate gratitude every day.

But why is gratitude so important? Believe it or not, research has shown that individuals who practice gratitude more frequently are actually happier and experience lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. And that makes sense! The more positive our outlook, the more positive we’re destined to feel.

That being said, if you’re anything like us, it may be difficult to consistently remember to show gratitude for the little things. Luckily, there are certain ways to remind ourselves to be thankful all year ‘round. Here are six ways to practice cultivating gratitude in your daily life:

1. Notice the Small Things

We all appreciate different aspects of life that others may not even necessarily notice, but sometimes it’s easy to take the things that are special to us for granted. However, the wonderful thing about these small pieces of happiness is that the exist all around us, we simply have to take the time energy to remember that they’re there.

Do you love the smell of the autumn leaves, for example? While it may be easy to rush from place to place, traveling outdoors only when necessary, it’s important to stop and appreciate those aspects of the outdoors that you love so much - if that’s your thing, of course. Sitting on a park bench for ten minutes at lunch could seem like a waste of time to some people, but in reality no time spent in gratitude is wasted.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

While it’s always good to notice the things we’re grateful for, writing them down is an even more effective way to foster a positive attitude! Don’t worry - a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be a narrative; instead, it can be a simple list of three things you are thankful for each day. These lists can be made of words, sentences, paragraphs, or even pictures if you’d rather draw! Even if you didn’t have a great day, use your gratitude journal to change the negatives into positives. For example, perhaps a train delay on your way to work gave you the opportunity to speak with a family member on the phone. A gratitude journal is a great way to remind yourself that there’s always something to be grateful for.

3. Be Genuinely Happy to Answer a Phone Call

Speaking of phone calls with family members, a great way to cultivate gratitude in your own life is to always answer your phone feeling grateful for the person on the other end. Think about it: Have you ever called someone and felt as if the person answering felt thankful for your call, whether they were expecting it or not? Feeling grateful for a friend’s phone call not only reminds you to enjoy the positive moments of your life, but it also makes others feel important, brightening both of your days.

4. Get Involved in Your Community

Getting involved in the community means different things to everyone; whether you enjoy working in town gardens or volunteering at animal shelters, helping others is a great way to remind ourselves of the wonderful lives we live as well as the beautiful things all around us. For example, after volunteering at a soup kitchen, most individuals experience feelings of gratitude for all of the ways they live comfortably. Additionally, working at a soup kitchen is a great way to meet other people, and finding gratitude in interactions with strangers is a valuable skill that we should practice as often as possible.

5. Write Some Thank-You Letters

Don’t worry, you don’t have to send them - unless you want to! Has a friend been extra supportive lately? Has a coworker been helpful when your desk is stacked with paperwork? Has someone made your day simply by smiling at you? It’s interesting to consider how many times each day someone makes us feel warm inside, and how often we unknowingly take this feeling for granted. Writing a letter to a family member, friend, or even a stranger is a great way to remind yourself to be grateful for those people in your life who make each day wonderful.

6. Stop Comparing

Of course, there will always be parts of us that want things that others have, but it’s absolutely imperative that we stop constantly comparing ourselves to others. Whether we compare our own skills, possessions, or relationships with those that another person may have, in order to cultivate gratitude we must turn this comparison into something completely different. And while our first instinct may be to simply find gratitude for the things in our own lives, something that we should also practice is finding gratitude for the great things about others! For example, instead of comparing a coworker’s work ethic to our own, we should appreciate the wonderful things about their determination and dedication to their job. Appreciating people for their great qualities is a wonderful way to practice gratitude.

Cultivating gratitude in our daily lives isn’t something that always comes naturally. Like most things, it takes work. However, Thanksgiving time is a great opportunity to make a change in our lives and dedicate time and energy to finding reasons to be grateful every day - and we’re grateful for you, Superfoodies!