Just because a practice is simple does not mean it has simple results.

If, each day, we could engage in a “basic daily gratefulness practice,” it would be enough to positively impact our lives and the world around us. Just because a practice is simple does not mean it has simple results. Even though you might choose to try this practice in a more formal way at the same time each day, it can be done anytime, anywhere, and as often as you want.

Stop whatever you are doing and devote your full attention to being still or slowing down. Become conscious of your breath breathing itself.

If it helps, you can close your eyes. Follow a complete inhale-exhale cycle with your awareness. Bring your attention to the gift of the present moment and allow yourself to soften into it…

Look at what life is offering you right now. Become awake to your surroundings. Recognize opportunities available to you. Consider the invitation to feel grateful for what you already have and what is already true in your life. Ask yourself one of these questions:

  • What am I grateful for right now? or What can I be grateful for right now?
  • What opportunity is life presenting me, for which I can be grateful?

Your answers do not have to be grand or complicated. Some of the most meaningful things to acknowledge are those we commonly take for granted. Examples include: our senses, weather, the ability to learn, love or grow, a pet, food, a friend, our bodies, or a part of nature.

Try thinking of each of these things as a gift as opposed to a given. We can elevate aspects of our lives – especially the most routine and common – by receiving them with the same kind of gratitude that we would receive an unexpected gift, taking nothing for granted.

…intentionally focus on this practice when you are in moments of transition, or when you are typically vulnerable to a stress response.

It can be powerful to actually begin each acknowledgement with the words, “I am grateful for the gift of…” Complete the sentence as many times as you can, and notice the effect it can have on your “mind-state.” Do this whenever you are moved to do so, and/or intentionally focus on this practice when you are in moments of transition, or when you are typically vulnerable to a stress response. Just allow the thoughts to occur to you in a complete way, and then gently let them go.

Go: If you can, preserve your reflections in the moment, or later. Research says that writing down grateful thoughts can be very helpful. You might want to keep a record in a gratitude journal or in your private online journal. Start each line with “I am grateful for the gift of…” and name at least 3 things when you do this. It can really change how you feel, and as importantly, how you interact with the world and people around you.

Start a grateful ripple. Notice the difference gratitude can make…

Allow your grateful feelings to spill over into expressing appreciative sentiments to those you encounter in your day-to-day life. Choose one person each day to thank for something ordinary or extraordinary. Take a risk to acknowledge kindness. Honor someone who is being cooperative. Commend generosity. Praise courage. Appreciate honesty. Start a grateful ripple. Notice the difference gratitude can make…

And once you have connected with your own sources of good fortune, and been grateful to those around you, see if you can extend your awareness more readily to those “more distant” others who may need your compassion, care, or generosity. Doing something for those who are suffering or less fortunate than you are, is a powerful way of practicing grateful living. Let your grateful heart be what moves you to make a difference…

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Practices