Life doesn’t always go exactly the way you may have planned, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to dance in the rain. Even when things aren’t going your way, practicing gratitude can help give you a different perspective.
Being grateful isn’t toxic positivity, where you ignore all of the “bad” in favor of wearing rose-tinted glasses. Gratitude can enhance your overall well-being in ways that you may not expect.
With the following gratitude exercises, you can learn to embrace the beautiful dichotomy of life. Want to know more about how you can incorporate them into your life? Chiji has everything you need to know.
The Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Utilizing gratitude exercises has the potential to make positive changes in your life. When you embrace gratitude, you can significantly impact both your psychological and even your physical health. Some of those impacts include:
- Better sleep
- Reduced symptoms of physical pain
- Increased happiness
- Lower blood pressure
- More energy
Truly, the only limits to the benefits that gratitude can give you are the ones you set for yourself. It works similarly to working out your physical body. The more you work out, the stronger you become. The more gratitude you practice, the more you notice all of the things you can be grateful for in your life.
Practicing gratitude can also have a positive effect on your relationships with the people around you. It can help you to feel more confident starting new relationships and maintaining and strengthening the relationships you already have.
Just think about how good it feels when someone genuinely says “thank you” after you’ve done something nice for them. Grateful people pay more attention to things like that and find it much easier to express their appreciation for them.
Start Your Day With Gratitude
Along with a cup of coffee, starting your morning with gratitude is the best way to get a jumpstart on your day. Making morning gratitude an automatic habit may take some time, but it’s well worth a few weeks of having it feel a little forced.
To start, think of at least one thing you’re grateful for before you get out of bed. Just one! It can be anything, from getting a good night’s sleep to not having your back hurt when you wake up. The most important thing is that it’s something that you are grateful for, and you don’t need to justify your choice to anyone else.
Morning gratitude impacts the way you approach your entire day. When you start your day in a positive headspace, it usually continues that way.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journals are one of the best ways to keep a running log of the things in your life that are important to you. Not only is it an excellent gratitude exercise, but it is also a way to look back on your life months or years later and get a snapshot of who you were then.
The journal doesn’t have to be anything special. However, sometimes intentionally going to the store and picking out a new, blank journal specifically for this purpose can be an additional motivator.
While just practicing gratitude is enough to make a positive change in your life, the more specific you are when you journal, the more you will get out of it.
Try writing a few sentences about what you’re grateful for, with as much detail as possible. For example, instead of just saying you’re thankful for your dog, take the time out to say what exactly that means to you.
Do you love the way she curls up against your leg at night? Do you value the time spent walking with him every single day? Those are the things you should be focusing on.
Set Aside Time for Yourself
To be grateful, you have to respect and honor yourself first. Gratefulness comes from within, as both a feeling and a state of mind.
Setting aside specific time for self-care is a good start. You can start small if that makes you more comfortable, or go all out. Lighting a candle, taking a bubble bath, or booking an appointment at a day spa ultimately produces the same results—reminding you how special and important you are.
When you have a more solid sense of self, you’ll be able to see more of the brighter things in life.
If you haven’t already started a meditation practice, this is your sign to start. In addition to incorporating more gratitude exercises into your life, meditation can help you learn to live more solidly in the moment. You can also combine both practices in one, which allows you to improve your mindfulness and gratitude.
To do that, instead of letting go of conscious thought like you would with a traditional meditation practice, gratefulness meditation involves focusing your attention on what you’re grateful for. And that’s not just the “good” things. You’ll also want to focus on the “bad,” and the opportunities things that may not have gone the way you planned have brought into your life.
Gratefulness meditation is so powerful that many Buddhist monks begin their day with it. While it may not come naturally to you at first, it is well worth the time and mental energy. If it feels right, you can even incorporate crystals into your meditation practice.
Give Out Thank You Notes
How long has it been since you wrote out a thank you note? Did it feel like a chore the last time you did? Many of us have been there or had a parent force us to sit down and write them out even though we didn’t want to.
Taking the time out to write thank you notes can change your perspective. It is also a way to make sure that the people in your life know how much you love them and value everything they do for you (even the small stuff).
Start small by giving thank you notes out for birthday gifts or after the holidays. You can even give them to the minor characters in your life, like the barista at your favorite coffee shop or your postal worker.
After that, start giving them out during random times of the year. There isn’t much that feels better than brightening someone’s day without any expectation of reciprocation. It’s a beautiful thing.
Volunteer Your Time
Finding ways to identify what makes you happy and spread the wealth is also an essential component of gratefulness. When you live with that spirit in your heart, you naturally want to share it with the people around you. But don’t stop with just the people who know personally. Look for the need in your community and do something about it.
No matter what it looks like, volunteering provides benefits outside of just being a gratitude exercise. It can make you feel more optimistic, help you appreciate the control you have, and benefits the community.
Try to find volunteer opportunities that directly relate to what you’re interested in—animals, mental health care, the hospital, etc. Mentally engaging in what you’re doing makes it much more beneficial for you and the cause you’re volunteering your time for.
Try To Complain Less
While this may sound impossible, hear us out.
If you feel like you spend a lot of time complaining, especially if it tends to be an unconscious response, you may benefit from being more mindful about it.
It’s much easier to focus on negative things than positive ones, but that can also drastically alter your perspective. However, that’s not a change that happens overnight.
One of the most challenging but worthwhile gratitude exercises is to choose a single day a week and pay attention to how often you complain. On that day, every time you feel a complaint bubbling to the surface, try to change the way you look at it. Are you irritated about getting stuck in traffic?
Focus on how that means you’ll be able to finish your podcast or listen to your favorite song. It’s all in your perspective, and this change in the way you view things will spill into the rest of your life as well.
In addition, when you have a day that you try to keep complaint-free, you’ll likely find yourself reframing how you look at life on the other six.
Incorporating daily gratitude exercises into your life has the potential to change the way you view the world. When you can identify and appreciate all of the things in your life that make you happy, bring you joy, or take you where you need to be, you’re even more likely to attract more of that to you.
Gratefulness is a form of self-care, one that we believe very strongly in at Chiji. But, much like most of the other beneficial things in life, gratefulness is a practice. If you want to benefit from it, you need to put in the time. But trust us, it’s worth it—and so are you.