How to Start a Daily Gratitude Practice in Just 5 Minutes a Day

{HABIT: Gratitude}
Month: 11 / Week: 1

{gratitude} the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

gratitudepracticemainIt’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day. And when we have a bad day, it’s so easy to forget the things that are so wonderful in our lives. Those things we should be grateful for. We often hear to “count your blessings” but how many of us do that regularly? It’s much easier to default to “when it rains, it pours”.  And I know you’ve all had at least one of those days. I had one recently.

I was traveling for a conference and had one of “those” days.

  • My alarm didn’t go off in time so I had to cut my workout short.
  • They couldn’t find my registration so I missed the expo opening.
  • I spilled hot coffee on my white shirt.
  • I booked my flight out the wrong day and had to pay to find another one. No more non-stop flights available.
  • The cab line was 45 minutes long and I was already cutting it close for time.
  • Not that that mattered because my first flight was delayed so I was going to miss my layover

Clearly, I’ve had better days. I could do one of two things: be miserable or be grateful. Since I would be nuts to intentionally make myself feel worse, I went with the latter: gratitude.

The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles” William Penn  

And here’s how I did it.

 I changed my perspective. By looking for the positive in a negative situation.

  • I got to work out. I pushed myself for a quick high intensity circuit workout with jumping jacks, pushups, high knees, skaters, and burpees.
  • The woman helping me with registration was very kind and patient.
  • The coffee didn’t burn me, just left a little stain.
  • I found another flight that was scheduled to get me home an hour earlier, which was perfect because I had a 5am start to the following day
  • The cab line was long but I eventually got one and the driver was very nice. He even had complimentary water and an outlet to charge my phone.
  • The flight was delayed but it made my layover very short. Plus, the guy on the plane gave me a free drink ticket. That nice cold glass of Pinot Grigio was the perfect cherry on top to this long day.

I recited the things in my day I was grateful for.

  • I’m grateful for seeing a friend I haven’t seen in years and getting the chance to catch up with her
  • I’m thankful I was able to attend this conference and get to eat a few amazing meals in one of my favorite cities, Chicago.
  • I’m blessed to have a husband who waited for me to get home even though it was late because he hadn’t seen me in a while and wanted to see me

gratitudeimageThe point is, there’s always something to be grateful for, even in the most horrible situations. Simply find something you appreciate and express gratitude for that thing. When you put your mind into the habit of gratitude, you’ll be surprised to find that you start noticing things that you’re grateful for that you may have otherwise overlooked.

Starting out, you’ll probably notice the big things. For me, that could be my family, the roof over my head, my job, the food I get to enjoy each day, and so on. But it’s important to notice the small things too… the greeting I get from the grocery cashier, the beautiful scenery on my commute to work, the good cup of coffee I have in the morning… You get the point. Gratitude can be expressed for what ever you want.

 How do we develop a daily gratitude practice?

  •  Simply notice things. Live in the moment.
  • Create a routine or set a specific time during the day (first thing in the morning, during dinner, or before bed, to name a few…). Pick a place and time that works for you!
  • Decide how you want to express your gratitude: writing? speaking? thinking?
  • Sit for a moment on each thing you’re grateful for. Truly think about why it makes you happy. Smile, reflect, appreciate. You may even notice you start to smile!
  • Be specific with actual moments in your life you’re grateful for and not the large more obvious things like the blue sky, the trees, and the roof over your head. You can appreciate the big things, just put them into perspective.

I’m happy for the sunshine today, because I get to have a nice walk with my dog in the park”

I’m blessed to live in a house that’s near my family so I can spend more time with them”

Don’t worry if you’ve never had a gratitude practice or if you feel you won’t be “good” at it. It’s a practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets. And you can never do it right or wrong. How you practice gratitude is really up to you.

CHALLENGE: Start a daily gratitude practice. Whether you write it down or talk it out, identify at least 3 things you’re grateful for each day and spend 5 minutes reflecting.

New to the healthy habits challenge ? Start here.

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