We’ve just passed Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’re ushering in a time when we’re urged to want more, buy more, get more. But this season can be a real opportunity to practice gratitude for what we already have. It’s a busy time and you may dread the idea of adding one more to-do to the list. The good news is that practicing gratitude doesn’t have to take long and it feels great to even do a little bit. Many practices take a few minutes or less—and can be woven right into your day.
21 Gratitude Practices to Try
You don’t have to do all of these. Choose the practice that speaks to you most or is easiest for you to start with, or create your own.
1. Say thank you throughout the day. Thank the person who bags your groceries, the person who handles your call, the person who holds the door. For today, just try saying thank you to as many people as you can as you go about your day.
2. Pay attention to the basics. It’s easy to take things for granted. Really noticing things like clean running water, a warm home, food on the table is a very simple, but profound gratitude practice.
3. Pay it forward. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Help somebody load up their groceries. Donate food to the food pantry. Give as a way of showing thanks for what you have and as a way to pay forward kindness done for you.
4. Start a gratitude jar. Put out a jar (or box) labeled gratitude in a convenient spot. Have small pieces of paper and a pen with it. Ask your family to write down things during the week that they are grateful for.
5. Create a gratitude journal. Use a notebook or blank book to start a gratitude journal for your family. Encourage everyone to write one thing in the book every day.
6. Review your gratitude. Gather as a family and read a week or a month of your gratitude notes from your gratitude jar or journal. Having a bunch of gratitude moments together is uplifting and can fill you with gratitude again as you remember these things.
7. Read gratitude stories. If you read to your kids, choose books that have a message of gratitude or giving to others. Kids beyond being read to? Read a more grown up gratitude book together and have a “Book Club” meeting to discuss.
8. Say thank you to your family. Sometimes we forget to say thank you to the people closest to us. Or maybe you feel like you shouldn’t have to thank your child for putting away their coat (after you asked 10 times) or your spouse for doing the dishes because the deal is you cook, he cleans up. What if you started saying thank you for these things anyway? Just try it.
9. Share your gratitude at dinner. Go around the table at dinner time and ask everyone to say at least one thing they are grateful for. It can be something related specifically to the day or something in your broader life. Make it a practice to share your gratitude as a family. (Don’t have time for dinner together? What about in the car on the way to school or practice, wherever you are together regularly.)
10. Say a blessing before your meal. At dinner, ask every to pause before you eat. Say a blessing and acknowledge how fortunate you are for the food you have. Doing this aloud with your family is lovely, but you can pause and give thanks even if you are eating alone.
11. Give of your own abundance. This could mean donating money, volunteering your time, or giving away things you no longer need or use. Recognize what you have—and share with others.
12. Share a family story about gratitude. When did somebody really help you or your family? When was a moment, recently or in the past, when you were just so thankful somebody was there for you? Tell that story. Sharing family stories helps build resilience in kids. Hearing gratitude stories teaches without telling the idea that we all need help sometimes and the power of gratitude.
13. End your day with gratitude. Simply ask, “What are you grateful for today?” at the end of each day. Personally, this is my favorite. Doing it each night has had a profound effect on my feeling of happiness and it’s a great way to relax before sleep.
14. Text your thanks. Text a friend, your partner, or one of your kids to express gratitude for something they did or simply that they are part of your life. I love this one too. My daughter created a fun Bitmoji (a personal emoji) for me that I use to send gratitude to my family and close friends, it adds some fun to the texts and makes me smile.
15. Express ongoing appreciation. Who helps you a lot who never gets thanked? Do you have a friend who you know you can always call in a pinch to help you out? Does your neighbor do something kind for you so often it’s almost a habit that you don’t notice? Does your barista brighten your day every time you go in for coffee? Share that appreciation.
16. Distribute “I’m thankful for you …” notes. Write brief notes that say, “I’m thankful for you because …” Tuck them into your kids’ lunch boxes. Stick it in the folder that goes back to school for your child’s teacher. Drop one on the receptionist’s desk when you go in for your appointment. Hand one to your neighbor in passing. Do one a day or do a whole batch, whatever feels good.
17. Get social with your gratitude. Post one thing you are grateful for each day on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Challenge yourself to do it every day for a month. You may find you want to keep going.
18. Volunteer as a family. Giving of your time to help others or better our world is powerful. Have can you tap into that as a family? Choose something that is meaningful based on your family values and that allows all members of the family to participate.
19. Create a gratitude bulletin board. Set up a space to post gratitude in your house. It could be a cork board or magnet wall. Clear off part of the fridge or use a chalkboard wall. Write Gratitude or We’re Grateful or something similar at the top. Post gratitude daily.
20. Practice gratitude when you grumble. Next time you find yourself grumbling or expressing irritation, take a deep breath and then find something to be grateful for. It’s not that we shouldn’t feel “negative” emotions, but sometimes we are in the habit of looking on the bad side of things. Even when things are really hard, there is often also something we can appreciate. And doing so actually helps us become more resilient.
21. Write a thank you note. Thank somebody for a gift or for their help. Thank somebody for making your day. I make it easy for you with the SMILE process for writing thank you notes. How would you feel if you wrote a thank you note every day for a week?
There are so many ways to practice gratitude that take just moments but have huge impact on people you share your gratitude with and on you. The more you express gratitude, the easier it gets to really notice and feel it. Pick one way, and share gratitude today.
What’s your favorite gratitude practice? Tell me please in the comments. With Gratitude!