Practicing Gratitude


Growing up, your parents or caregivers at some point probably told you to “be grateful.” What they most likely did not always tell you was how.

Now, you’re left with that question. How does one be grateful? Lucky for you, the answer is fairly simple, as there are endless ways to practice gratitude! This even includes creating your own 😊

Practicing gratitude is about expressing your appreciation and thankfulness for the important people in your life, as well as for the things around you. This can include big things, like family and friends, and smaller things, such as your morning coffee and music.

Without practicing gratefulness, you may lose sight of what life has to offer. Not appreciating regularly what you have around you in your life will result in a lack of perspective, lost values, damage to relationships, and missing the moment and what you have in it.

Engaging in this practice can allow you to gain new perspectives, strengthen relationships, be more present, and even help lower symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can help us be more open to our emotions and maybe even feel a little bit lighter.

Some ways that gratitude can be practiced are:

  • taking a walk in a forest preserve
  • being mindful in your day-to-day activities
  • hanging out with friends or family just because
  • writing a letter to someone important
  • deep breathing exercises
  • meditation
  • journaling 3+ things you are grateful for daily
  • gratitude jar and endless more! Feel free to create your own way!

In addition to those ways, we wanted to share some ways that we will be practicing gratitude this holiday season!

Amber: I’ll be practicing gratitude that I still have my health (although I’m battling a cold), my dog (and a mean bird), my family, and my amazing friends.  One of my best friends lost her mother earlier this month and I know we should practice gratitude for the time we do have with our loved ones because we do not know when that will end some day

Lori: I try to focus my gratitude practice on the little things.

Shannon: I’ve really been giving this a lot of thought, as I feel the pressure of the holidays – events, time constraints, gatherings (cooking, cleaning, driving), out-of-towners and more – build. It’s easy (for me anyway) to get swept up in the frenzy of the “to dos.”

All this thinking has led me to decide, particularly during these crazy days, I end each day with 3 things I loved about my day, 3 things that made me laugh and 3 things I appreciated in the people around me. I start my day reminding myself of those things. While I drive, I look for something in nature that I find pretty.

Ellen: My husband and I have started a shared gratitude journal where we write things that we are grateful for throughout the week. Then at the end of the week, we go through what we wrote. It’s our way to practice expressing gratitude and to force ourselves to think about the positives in life. It is also a fun little couple activity where we can see how each other views different areas of our lives.

Krista: I plan to share with my friends & family how much I appreciate them, as well as hitting pause for a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the little things life has to offer that we tend to miss. Things I really like to take moment to recognize using mindfulness would be the outdoors, my favorite snacks, a warm blanket, my plants, & others!

Alexandria: On thing I do is recognizing the little glimmers in my daily life.

Kim: I have been trying to add more walking to my daily routine, and so I notice that the sunshine, birdsong, and fresh air tend to remind me about what is good in the world and start my day off with a more positive and grateful attitude.  Nature nearly always makes me grateful, even during this season when things are dying back, but doing it colorfully and gracefully.

Maggie: It can be easy for me sometimes to get caught up in stress and focus on the negatives or things that I don’t have. Lately I have been trying to make a conscious effort to a) catch myself having those thoughts and then b) re-direct my focus to something I am grateful for in my life to put things in perspective. Often, I will think about the big things I have such as my family and friends, my health, and the privilege I have that has allowed me to try out a new career path. But somehow it has been almost equally as powerful to notice the small things too: the scent of my favorite Trader Joe’s candle that I managed to snag before they sold out, fresh air coming through the window on an unseasonably warm November day, and the fact that my life is full of people (and 2 cats) that make me laugh every day.

Last year, my husband and I started a tradition where at the end of each week, we each write the highlights of our week on a small piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in a big jar. On New Year’s Eve, we open the jar and get to re-live all the best memories from our year. It helps serve as a reminder that even in times that seem dominated by stress or hardship, life is still full of many good moments, whether they’re big or small.

Let’s practice gratitude together!

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