gratitude jarWe’ve heard it time and time again that gratitude can be a key to happiness. People who practice and express gratitude tend to be healthier physically and mentally, have more positive relationships with others, handle stress more easily, and find more opportunities leading to success.

If we know these benefits then¬†why don’t we all practice gratitude more frequently?

Often people¬†don’t know how or where to start.¬†So let’s make it simple. To help you start on your journey to a more grateful and happy version of yourself we’ve included¬†20¬†small steps you can take to incorporate more gratitude into your world. Some may work for you, others may not, and we’d like you to know that’s ok.

Our suggestion is to pick one task each week to focus on and add to your daily habits. Gratitude is a skill, and a habit, so small progress over time can certainly go a long way.

Twenty Ways to Fill Your Day with Gratitude:

1. Gratitude Journal: First thing in the morning or last thing before going to bed write down 3 things you are currently thankful for. Be specific as possible such as “I am grateful for the energy I feel in my body” instead of “I am grateful for my health”.

2. Share the Love: Take dinner time or bedtime to share at least one thing you are grateful for with your loved ones. This is a great activity to get the kids or your spouse involved in practicing gratitude with you.

3. Write a Note: Take your cue from Jimmy Fallon, with a little more sincerity. A handwritten thank you note can go along way in improving your own gratitude muscle while brightening the day of the recipient.

4. Make it Public: Create a gratitude board in the home. It can be a whiteboard on the fridge, post it notes on the door to the garage, or erasable marker on the bathroom mirror. Keeping your gratitudes front and center is a great reminder for you, but also allows you to share in your gratitude with those you love

5. Smile: Simple, huh? When was the last time you truly smiled at your grocery bagger, coffee barista, or any other stranger you run into. Smiling is contagious and naturally relieves stress while improving mental health.

6. Subtract the Good: Take 5-10 minutes to consider the best moments of your life. What led up to these events happening? How would life be different if one thing changed? Would these life changing events have ever occurred?

7. Go Complaint Free: A few years ago Will Bowen began the Complaint Free World movement urging people to challenge themselves to stop complaining for 21 days in order to develop the habit of positive thinking. Are you disciplined enough to go 21 days without a complaint?

8. Be a Quitter: Find something in your life that you enjoy and quit for a week or two. It can be reading, TV, certain treats, anything you do consistently. After a week pay attention to your enjoyment of this little pleasure. Were you taking it for granted? How much more enjoyable is it now?

9. Serve Others: It is nearly impossible to serve others without a grateful heart. Even if you aren’t directly serving the less fortunate, simply by serving you are better able to recognize and appreciate the service others provide for you.

10. Meditation: It seems that the concept of meditation paralyzes people into avoiding the practice¬†because they “aren’t doing it right”. Don’t get caught up in the details. Find some space, find 5 minutes and sit with a quiet mind.

11. Affirm Yourself: Take a hint from this awesome Dad. Find a moment within your day to write down a positive affirmation about yourself, or repeat the statement to yourself on your drive to work, or in the mirror. Your mind will believe what you tell it about yourself, why not feed it positive messages?

12. Pay it Forward: Do something nice for somebody else for no reason other than to make their day. Random acts of kindness help spread gratitude to others.

13.¬†Stop Trying to Keep Up:¬†Forget the Jones’. Life is not a race or a competition, so take stock of what you have¬†in your life without comparing it to other people.

14. Watch¬†Something Inspiring:¬†It’s awfully difficult to have a sour mindset after watching an inspiring video. With your mind on right, it’s easy to look for the good and practice gratitude.

15. Take it All in: Go for a walk or look around your office and notice as many things as possible around you that are positive.

16. Spin it: When you face a challenge ask yourself what you can learn from the opportunity or what good can come from it.

17. Sweat the Small Stuff: Some of us are excellent at giving support when someone goes above and beyond, but how about the little things? Take a moment to sincerely thank people for all the little sacrifices they make for you throughout the day such as holding the door, serving you food, or taking a moment to answer your questions.

18. Keep it Visible: On your door, car dashboard, or computer monitor put a quick phrase to remind you to focus on gratitude throughout your day. Having that reminder at key points of your day will help you to stay focused on remaining grateful.

19. Post it Socially: If you have a quote or mantra that speaks to you share it socially on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The act of sharing can help anchor the idea in your brain for the day and every notification you get for a like, share, or comment will refresh it in your brain.

20. Give Yourself a Break:¬†Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nobody you know is perfect, so allow yourself to have some flaws. Easing up on your own expectations of yourself can help reframe your mind to better appreciate all the little things that make each day great.