How To Practice Gratefulness

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gratefulWhat does it mean to practice gratefulness?

To practice gratefulness is to consciously recognize the things, events, experiences, or people that you are grateful for. Practicing gratefulness is a deliberate and mindful process of expressing appreciation for what you have or what someone has done for you. Research suggests that practicing gratefulness can lead to increased happiness and improved physical health.

What should I be grateful for?

People practice gratefulness in many ways and are grateful for a variety of reasons. Here are some examples:

I am grateful for…

  • my spouse/partner cleaning up the kitchen after a dinner party
  • finding my lost pair of prescription eyeglasses
  • pushing the “snooze” button and getting an extra 4 minutes of rest in the morning
  • feeling the sun on my face
  • having a friend I can always count on.

You don’t have to limit your gratitude to things that you have. Perhaps you’re grateful for an experience. For example;

  • Even though I didn’t get offered the job, I am grateful that I made it to the final interview and got to practice my interview skills.
  • I have a lot of work to do before Friday, but I’m grateful to have activities and interests to stay busy with.

How can I practice gratefulness?

To practice gratefulness, first think about your day. Identify an event, person, thing, or experience you might be grateful for and apply these three steps. To illustrate, let’s use an example of a person in your life, we’ll call him Joe.

  • I recognize – think about an event, person, thing, or experience. What do you recognize about Joe?

I recognize that Joe is my friend

  • I acknowledge – think about the event, person, thing, or experience. What do you acknowledge that Joe does for you?

I acknowledge that Joe calls me regularly

  • I appreciate – this is the last step. What is it about the fact that Joe is your friend and he calls you regularly that you appreciate?

I appreciate that Joe is thinking about me and wants to stay involved with my life

  • The bottom line?

I am grateful that I have a friend like Joe in my life.

Now you try it:

  1. I recognize:
  2. I acknowledge:
  3. I appreciate:

I am grateful:

Here are some suggestions for how to practice gratefulness:

  •  Devote a specific time each day to gratitude.

Look at your schedule to determine when you can devote specific periods of time each day to being grateful. It could be before a meal, or before bed, or even just before the kids come home from school. Committing to a specific time will help to establish the ritual of practicing gratefulness.

  • Keep a gratitude journal.

Similar to above, set aside some time each day to recall and record moments of gratitude for ordinary events. Try to vary your entries each day so you can better appreciate the good in your life. With a gratitude journal, it can help to read your earlier entries in times of stress or when you’re struggling to feel grateful. 

  • Write gratitude letters.

A twist on keeping a journal: spend some time thinking about the people for whom you are most grateful and draft a letter to them that identifies their qualities that you appreciate. You don’t need to give them the letters; the mere act of expression is what is most important. Remember that even the most difficult people can teach us something. 

  • Express gratitude in person.

Extroverts might find that they benefit from expressing their gratitude in person to someone. A simple thank you is all that is needed to feel the benefits of this kind of gratitude.

  • Prayer.

Faith and spirituality are important to many people, and prayer can be a time to combine your faith with what you’re grateful for. Saying “grace” before meals is a good example.

However you choose to be practice gratefulness, these three steps will help you identify and appreciate the good people, experiences, and events in your life.

  • Recognize – What do you recognize about it?  
  • Acknowledge – What do you acknowledge that it does or has done for you? 
  • Appreciate – What do you appreciate about it?

What are you grateful for? How do you practice gratefulness? Email us at info@familyaware.org or tell us on Facebook.

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