Most of us know that consciously giving thanks for the big and little things in our lives can benefit us in so many ways—from reducing stress to strengthening our immune system. People who are grateful tend to sleep better and have deeper relationships and a more positive outlook.
At Thanksgiving, many of us will share what we’re thankful for around a bountiful dinner table with family and friends. And we might decide we should express thanks more often. Here’s the problem. Although we know it’s good for us, even the best practices can lose out to everyday demands. So, how do you maintain a gratitude practice throughout your life?
The key is to schedule it into your routine and keep it simple. Here are three easy practices to consider. Choose one and commit to it for at least 30 days. Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable. If it serves you well, you’ll make it a lifelong habit.
Send a Weekly Thank-You Card
Schedule a certain day and time each week, like first thing Friday morning, and consider all the people in your life that support your success, from family members and teachers to coworkers and clients. Choose one person and write a simple thank-you note to them and mail it. Emails don’t count. Keep cards and stamps in your desk so this process is as easy as possible.
Set a Daily “Three Good Things” Alarm
Using your smart phone, set an alarm to go off at the end of your day. In an app like Notes, write down three good things that happened that day, like catching up with a close friend or completing a challenging project at work. We’re much more likely to remember the things that didn’t go right so this will help program your mind to start noticing and appreciating the good experiences.
Express Thanks to Those Who Serve You
Each day, make a point of expressing genuine appreciation—not just a cursory “thank you”—to at least one person who serves you. This can take many forms. It might be the barista at your favorite coffee shop. After an exceptional meal at a good restaurant, ask your server if you can speak with the chef. They often only get this request when there’s a problem so they will be especially grateful to accept your compliments. Thank the cashier for her friendly smile and the technical support representative for his patience as he solved your computer problem—then reply to the online customer satisfaction survey to let his supervisor know your appreciation, too. A funny thing happens when you start to expect to be grateful. You become grateful!
I would be grateful to you if you’d share your favorite gratitude practice here.