Gratitude is a practice, which means that giving thanks is not only a thought, but a physical action.
A practice is ongoing and habitual. The more you do it, the more second nature and automatic it becomes.
As we enter this season of retail mania, remember that giving thanks is one of the easiest, least expensive and most meaningful gifts you can possibly give to someone. It is not only an act of appreciation, but also an act of generosity.
Here are 11 of my favorite ways to put gratitude into motion. I hope that these ideas inspire you to say thank you today.
May your blessings be many.
1. Pray - It's so easy to make requests of God. Challenge yourself to spend more time in prayer saying thank you for the blessings that already exist in your life.
2. Write - Make a daily habit of writing down 3-5 things you're grateful for. Some people like to do this in the morning, but I prefer to write gratitude in my planner at night as I reflect on the day.
3. DATE - Use the D-A-T-E system to focus your gratitude practice and to challenge yourself to think outside of the box. D is for discovery. A is for achievement or accomplishment. T is for thing - or sometimes I let it be a wildcard “Thanksgiving” slot. E is for experience. Write D-A-T-E down your page and then fill in one daily gratitude for each letter category. I love this framework and wish I could remember where I first heard about it!
4. Reminders - Remembering to say thank you is often the hardest part of being grateful. Give yourself daily reminders in your planner, your email, set alarms or reminders on your phone, and set up automated text messages with an app such as Hourly. Once the reminder goes off, take a moment to pause, breath and be present with thanksgiving for whatever is on your heart in that moment.
5. Thank You Notes - I'm old fashioned in many ways and still love the art of the thank you note. They truly don't take as much time to write as you may think, and people love getting personalized snail mail. Get in the habit of writing these, not only after receiving physical gifts, but whenever you want to express your thanks. Create a ritual of writing one per day or on #thankyounotefriday.
6. Love Languages - Use a person's love language to express your thanks. Complete a nagging chore if someone’s love language is acts of service or give a little treat if someone’s love language is gifts. A surprise display of gratitude will go a long way toward making someone feel appreciated. If you haven’t yet read Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages, it’s a must read.
7. Play a Game - In my family, every Thanksgiving we write down what we're grateful for this past year and then we read everyone’s gratitude aloud before dessert. The neat thing is that people write on the same card year after year, so everyone can see and remember what they’ve been grateful for over the years.
8. Blessings Jar - Whenever you think of something you're grateful for, write it down on a piece of paper and put it into a mason jar. At the end of the month, pull out all of the pieces and read them to remind yourself of all the good that happened this month.
9. Count Your Blessings - How many blessings can you think of? Whatever number it is, try to think of more! No matter your circumstances in life, there is an endless amount of things to be thankful for. Set a timer and challenge yourself to keep going until the timer goes off.
10. Speak Up - If you think "thank you," say "thank you." Let people know how much their words/presence/work means to you the moment you think of it. Say it in person, send a DM, find an email address - just do it! Sometimes it can feel awkward reaching out, depending on your relationship with a person. Be brave and say thank you with confidence. Everyone appreciates knowing that they matter and that their actions have made a difference to someone!
11. Dedicate a Song - If you’re a singer, dedicate a song to a loved one at one of your concerts, or dedicate your bio when you’re in a show. Not an artist? You can still dedicate a song! Make a request to the band when you’re out and there’s live music, or make a playlist of songs that make you think of someone - just like an old mix-tape!
How do you practice gratitude? Please share in the comments below!