The How to of Gratitude

The Power of Gratitude

All the celebrities and motivational personalities seem to be adopting a gratitude practice. Often at the end of interviews highly successful people are asked about their routines. A growing number are responding that a gratitude practice is integral to the start of their days. And for good reason!

Two “happy hormones” in our brains are dopamine and serotonin. Feeling grateful activates the brain stem regions that produces dopamine and serotonin. Practicing gratitude is a natural way to boost your mood, which likely has cumulative effects over time. The best part about gratitude is it is free and anyone can be grateful for something. You could be deeply in debt and still be thankful for the love of your family. 

Start a Gratitude Journal

When I suggest journaling to clients, many are intimidated. Don’t stress, a Gratitude Journal is simple and lends itself easily to a bullet point format. I recommend a daily practice of writing down three things you are grateful for and why. The “why” is important because it makes you drill down deeper into specifics, enhancing your gratitude. It can look something like this:

  1. All It Takes is a Goal podcast episode #44
  • Because I learned some new ways to organize my priorities
  1. Graduating College
  • It opened up doors to my current career 
  1. Spending the weekend with my family
  • We laughed a lot playing games

If identifying three things is difficult, start with just one. Also try, broadening the scope of your search, you don’t have to stick to something you are grateful for that day specifically. You can recollect something from your past, like a trip you took with your friends. Future events can be sources for gratitude too, such as an upcoming birthday celebration. 

Even if you don’t come up with anything to be appreciative of, simply the act of searching for something to be grateful for can have a positive effect because you are seeking the positive, rather than focusing on the negative. It’s also ok to repeat the same gratitude. If it has been sunny for three days in a row, I write this down three days in a row. I will identify a different “why” each day. For example, walks in the sun are enjoyable, the sun helps the plants that feed me grow, and I get to soak up some Vitamin D. 

Building the Habit

Sticking to a consistent routine will help to build the habit, further reinforcing the benefits of the practice. There isn’t a “right” time of day to practice. It’s about finding the time that works best for you. A morning practice sets you up for your day and might help you to more readily recognize opportunities for gratitude later on when they pop up. A midday practice provides space to pause and recalibrate. An evening practice allows you to positively reflect on your day and is a nice way to wind down for the night. So, pick a time and get started, there is so much to gain from this simple practice.

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