Life Goals

4 tips to practice gratitude

A short guide on how to bottle up your happy thoughts.

3 min read
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What made you happy today? And if not *happy*, what gave you a smile or made you feel protected, safe, cozy or appreciated? If you find yourself savoring every little moment and relying on memories to brighten your mood on a bad day you might already know what this article is about: gratitude. Gratitude and the act of “practicing gratitude” are the act and quality of being thankful and expressing appreciation, affection or love for something or someone.

There are no rules or limits when it comes to gratitude and what we’re grateful for, whether it’s waking up in the morning, a home cooked meal, a flower blossoming on the plant you thought you were about to kill. In the fast paced society we live in, taking up space and slowing down to look at the flowers is not deemed as a priority, the next big thing and the next big plans ahead of us often take most of our time. But how to find the beauty in small things, if we’re always so focused on the bigger picture?

How to breathe and look at the stars when life seems to get in the way? As everything in life, practicing gratitude also needs time, practice and effort.

In my personal experience, practicing gratitude regularly has helped me to put negative thoughts and negative feelings in perspective. Today I woke up in the morning and had my cup of coffee on my balcony while looking at the sky and – i know it sounds cheesy but what can i do – that led me to think about all the people and all the circumstances that made that moment possible.

The friend of a friend who suggested that empty room in that flat in the exact neighborhood i was looking for, the pack of coffee i brought back from my friend’s house in Naples, the plants full of flowers that were given to me as a housewarming gift.

Gratitude is more than a spontaneous feeling, I don’t usually wake up feeling grateful about that specific brand of coffee. Gratefulness is more of a deliberate choice I make to remind myself that all the good things in life are part of a somewhat bigger web of people, actions, morals, and even material goods – we are all part of this web, and not the main characters.

Everyone’s approach to meditation and gratitude is different, you might be the kind of person who’s not comfortable with writing down anything. Maybe because you don’t feel you are in the safe environment that allows you to leave such personal information lying around, or maybe just because you “feel awkward” writing it down and re-reading it the next day. Take your own time to figure it out, and as with everything, start small and enjoy the ride.

Let’s note down 4 tips on how to practice gratitude on the daily, or weekly, basis.

1. Find a reliable medium you feel comfortable using

When it comes to practicing gratitude, writing it down helps greatly. Whether it is a notebook, your laptop or post-its you leave around the house, find what works best for you and in which form you feel more comfortable writing it down. Maybe you prefer to do it on your phone as you commute back home, or in a silent room away from any form of technology. Find what suits you better and stick to it.

2. Be consistent

Maybe you can’t find any reason to be grateful today, maybe your world is burning and you had the worst of the days. Maybe that “bad day” has turned into a bad week, or a bad month altogether. If you can’t write down any reason to be grateful today, try to stick to a weekly schedule, or even monthly if you feel the need to.

3. Write down why you’re grateful

You had a nice dinner with a friend, why does that feel good? Is it because you’ve been feeling insecure about your friendships? Is it because you’ve been isolating yourself lately and finally made the effort to meet up? Breaking down why you’re writing down that specific occasion can help you analyze the emotions that came with it.

4. Dont stress it!

Don’t take journaling and gratitude journals as a work task, keeping a daily journal might be counterproductive if you’re the kind of person that adapts easily to change. Novelty can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.

My journal entry usually consist of answers to questions like:
What did I do today?
What could have been better?
Have I improved at XYZ?
What made me feel protected and safe today?
Who am I grateful for today?
Anything else?
Sometimes I don’t have the answers for all these questions, sometimes I have the answers for these and more.

To quote the article “10 Amazing Facts About Gratitude”: Regular gratitude journaling has been shown to result in 5% to 15% increases in optimism and 25% increased sleep quality and that a five-minute daily gratitude journal can increase long-term well-being by 10%.
So with these statistics in mind, why not give it a try? Worst case scenario you’ll end up wasting some paper and ink and 35 minutes of your week.

Laura Ghiretti
February 2023