Growing older and taking on more responsibilities and challenges has made us busier. This can make us more susceptible to stress, burnout, and uncertainty in life. There’s always something to do, to achieve, to improve.
While we can’t suddenly change how our lives are, we can include practices that will help support us as we fulfill hopes and build a secure future. One of these practices is gratitude.
Gratitude is a lifelong journey. It is a lens, a perspective, a shift. And, as we make it a part of our day-to-day, it becomes a vital aspect of our behavior. The key to reshaping our mindset and how we live is to change not only our actions but our thoughts.
Thought is the birthplace of action. How many will live to see the day is our own decision. But, switching the pattern of our thoughts takes much longer than that of our activities, so let’s start from there.
In this post, let’s learn about what we can do to practice gratitude through gratitude exercises. These thankful activities are designed to let action change the pattern of our thoughts.
When we keep doing something consistently, our brain makes it a habit, which essentially is about making it operate on autopilot. An example is when we want to know the time, our eyes automatically move to the spot where the clock is.
As gratitude has become a habit for me, especially in the form of gratitude journaling, I remember to write in my journal app every day. In case, I forget, I remember it tomorrow.
When I’m experiencing tough emotions, my mind guides me to the question - Am I taking something for granted? What can I be grateful for here? And, it really helps. I am such a better person because of gratitude.
In fact, I’ve made a course on it too, and I’ve shared gratitude exercises in it which I will share with you here:
- Gratitude Journaling
- Atomic Gratitude
- Gratitude Trail
- Guided Meditation
- Deep Breathing
- Gratitude Stone
- Gratitude Scan
- Gratitude Affirmations
1. Gratitude Journaling
There is evidence that gratitude journaling helps decrease depressive symptoms, improves sleep, and increases emotional balance when done consistently.
This is key. To truly experience the benefits of gratitude journaling, we must keep doing it.
It’s such a simple exercise and so transformative.
Here are some gratitude journal prompts that you can use to begin journaling.
- Write about a time when you laughed uncontrollably.
- Appreciate a friend who lives far away but is dear to you.
- What is the best gift that you have ever received?
- Write about a movie that touched your heart, and why.
- Write about someone that you really admire.
- Appreciate a refreshing walk that you had in nature.
- What do you like most about yourself?
- What do you love most about the time you are living in?
- Express gratitude for having as much food as you need.
- Appreciate the vehicles that let you travel long distances.
2. Atomic Gratitude
Let me tell you simply, there is something you can feel grateful for right now, no matter where you are.
Also, as gratitude is infinite, it doesn’t mean that we must be grateful for everything.
You don’t have to feel grateful for losing someone you love, for unfair behavior, or for deep pain.
However, gratitude will help you overcome this pain by shifting your focus on what is good in your life still. And, there’s plenty of that, even though we might not feel so.
Here’s a technique - Atomic Gratitude. Let’s take the most basic example - a bedroom, and see how many opportunities for gratitude there are.
A bedroom in itself might not stand out much but when we focus on the atomic parts of it we realize how valuable it is.
Like the comfort of the mattress on the bed, the security of the door, the reliability of the floor, the memories in photographs, and much more.
I want you to look around right now and look at the little things that support you. Think of how they are helping you in this moment.
3. Gratitude Trail
The technique Gratitude Trail is to help us realize and appreciate the infinite number of people we can be grateful for.
It starts with the realization that we never really do anything alone. We are supported by more people than we realize.
I mean, take the example of this blog post. I am typing this on a laptop designed, packed, and shipped by so many different people. The language I'm writing in is brought to me by many more.
I am sitting comfortably on the bed that was again designed, bought, and shipped by others, most importantly the trees that gave wood for it.
The very many things in my bedroom are the contributions of so many other people.
The novels on my bookshelf alone have so many people to thank.
Think about how many people have supported us, and brought us where we are.
In every moment, we are supported by people.
All those things around us, all the wisdom that we have, it is because of other people and nature.
There is colossal gratitude that we can feel for them.
This realization hurls an ocean of humility in us, which in turn makes it easier and more natural to feel grateful.
Also, writing gratitude letters is something we must do more of. Everyone loves to be appreciated and valued.
So, if you want to tell someone that you’re grateful for them, go ahead. It is beautiful to do so.
To understand what it is to appreciate yourself, let's simply understand gratitude first.
When we feel grateful for something, we appreciate the good aspects of it just the way they are, aspects that we might have taken for granted, aspects that seem too little to praise, or aspects that have always been a blessing.
Now, let's turn that to our own selves. Self-appreciation means to appreciate parts of our life, personality, or ourselves as a whole to acknowledge the good that already exists within us.
It is to be grateful for the many little qualities that make us who we are and the small ways that we go forward.
It is about appreciating how these little things create big change and take us further in our journey.
Here are some gratitude prompts for self-appreciation:
- What do you like most about yourself?
- Write about a time when you challenged your comfort zone.
- Express gratitude to yourself and the journey you're having.
- What are you always excited to do?
- What is your strongest life value?
- What is one part of your life that you won't trade for anything?
- What is something that was hard to do but you did it anyway?
- How have you supported people throughout your life? Remember a time when you helped someone in need.
- What are the steps that you have taken through the years that made you a better version of yourself?
- What is your favorite part of your daily routine?
5. Guided Meditation
I’ve found this to be super helpful in learning how to pause and take things slowly.
The great about guided meditation is that it brings us to the present moment and makes us truly aware of it.
It makes us think by asking reflective questions. With time, we start asking ourselves, “What can I be grateful for in this moment?” Here is one meditation that I like:
6. Deep Breathing
Similar to guided meditations, taking deep breaths throughout the day brings us to a pause and into the present.
One technique is 4-4-4. Let’s try it out now. Take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, and exhale for 4.
And, as you exhale, smile and say, “I am grateful to be here in this moment.” You can also take a look at this video for guidance:
7. Gratitude Stone
I remember learning about this in the book The Magic, by Rhonda Byrne.
To use this, pick up a stone that fits sweetly in your first. You can also paint it to give it an extra touch.
Now, carry this stone in your pocket, or handbag, keep it on your bedside table or wear it on a chain around your neck.
Whenever you see it or hold it in your hand, take a moment to pause and look for what you’re grateful for then.
8. Gratitude Scan
I learned about a similar activity on the Positive Psychology blog. And you can couple this with the exercises I mentioned above.
Here are the steps in this gratitude exercise:
- Take a pause and look around the environment that you’re in, focus on something, and say to yourself, “For this, I am grateful...”
- Then think of the people that you love, and say, “For this, I am grateful...”
- Then bring attention to yourself, your body, your mind, your goodness, and say, “For this, I am grateful...”
- And then, finally, think about the gift of life and all the opportunities and experiences it offers including this one, and say, “For this, I am grateful...”
9. Gratitude Affirmations
Affirmations are a superb tool for reframing our mindset.
With gratitude affirmations, let’s guide our minds to think gratefully.
I’ve found that with consistent practice coupled with the practice of gratitude journaling, it becomes second nature to think thankfully and find moments of gratitude.
You can use our Gratitude app for this too. We have a dedicated section with hundreds of affirmations. You can write your own too.
Here are 10 gratitude affirmations for you:
- I am grateful for many things in my life that bring me joy and comfort.
- With a sense of gratitude, I see the world in a new light.
- I am worthy of beautiful endings and exciting beginnings.
- Today, I will concentrate on taking one step forward, however small.
- With every breath I take, I am bringing more and more gratitude into my life.
- I am open to receiving abundance.
- I am open to connecting with my highest self.
- I am eternally grateful for all of the blessings I have in my life.
- I choose to be kind to myself and love myself unconditionally.
- Each day is an opportunity and a gift.
And, that’s it! I hope you found this post helpful. Have a fun time trying out these activities and building a gratitude mindset.
Share this post with the people who come to your mind. I wish you the best!
Continue Reading: 15 Easy & Simple Positive Thinking Exercises To Improve Your Mood