Why is gratitude so hard?
The answer is simple. We become so used to the services of others that we forget to appreciate them. Also, it seems to us that it is our right and others’ duty to serve us. Thus, the cycle continues, and we forget to thank others.
In addition to that, whenever we are overjoyed upon getting a blessing, we often are so lost in it that we forget to thank. We forget to appreciate the source, our God, the Ultimate Provider. We become lost in our achievements and success.
How do you practice gratitude?
Gratitude seems hard and forgettable but not impossible to achieve. By following some practices daily and being mindful of that, you can incorporate gratitude in your lives. Below, you can find out how. Let’s go!
The first thing to do is “be regular.” Yes, if you want to achieve something, the key is to work for that regularly. The “daily gratitude” will let you enter the garden of gratitude.
Just like you achieve your fitness goals by daily gym and exercises, here are some for achieving gratitude. You can practice whatever you like. So, let’s get started!
Gratitude exercises #1: Gratitude diary/gratitude journaling
Ah! Who else has the love for journaling like me? Raise your hands. Journaling is “penning down your thoughts, feelings, whether on paper or some device.” As for achieving gratitude, you can start a gratitude journal. There are many ways of writing in a gratitude journal. As an example, consider this: write the name of a thing or a person you are grateful for. Plus, mention how that thing or person has added value to your life. Describe in two to three sentences with depth and thankfulness.
You can read more about gratitude journaling here.
Gratitude exercises #2: Gratitude list
Whenever you go for the groceries, I am sure you make a list. This gratitude list is something like that.
What is a gratitude list?
A gratitude list is a specific number of things you are grateful for, listed down daily on a notebook or your smartphone.
Now here’s the drill. At night, free from every work, take out the pen and a notebook. You can also use your smartphone. Make a list of five things for which you are grateful today. And believe me; you will have a smile on your face and a heart full of gratitude to have them. Start with five things, and sometime later, increase the count. At your weekends, go through these and enjoy.
Gratitude list ideas
You can put anything on your list. Anything that makes you feel grateful for its presence, mention it. It can be your eyes, your intelligence, and your loving nature. Your pillow, a comforting place to visit, or walking on the dewy grass with a loved one. Can be anything. I think this exercise seems to you quite interesting.
Examples of a gratitude list
- My loving mother
- My caring sister
- The velvety fleece with which I cover myself
- The cool breeze at night in summer
- The snacks at home for my midnight hunger
Gratitude exercises #3: Gratitude jar
A gratitude jar is a fun activity. Take a glass jar. Write on a chit of paper about one thing you are grateful for. It is up to you if you want to do this activity daily or weekly. Decide a fixed time to fill the jar. At the end of the week, take out all the chits and remind yourself of the good you have this week.
Gratitude exercises #4: Gratitude tree
Here’s another fun-filled activity for you. Bring some small branches or twigs of a tree. I hope you can easily find these. Place it in a vase or a jar and keep it on the table. Now make cutouts of leaves from the paper. At night, write a thing to be grateful for on a leaf and tie it to the branch or stick it with some tape. Include your family members in this activity also. Everyone can write their names on their pieces. It will bring a sense of thankfulness to your family and a good addition to the table as well.
Gratitude exercises #5: Gratitude box
Just like a gratitude jar, you can use a box. Any shoebox will work. The drill is the same. Write about one thing you are grateful for on a piece of paper and put it in the box daily. Also, make your family members a part of this activity. Everyone with their names can put the chits. At the end of the month, empty the box on a table and gather around. Enjoy a blissful time of recalling all your blessings.
Gratitude exercises #6: Gratitude letter
Write a letter of appreciation for the people who have helped you or serve you in some way. Describe their service and care for you in a paragraph or two. Give it to them with some chocolates, candies, or a flower bud. This way, you can add value to their lives and yours as well.
Gratitude exercises #7: Gratitude poster
Colors instantly attract attention. Take out some time from your busy life. Buy some colorful poster cards and markers. Design the gratitude posters in your free time. Encourage the kids to draw about the things they are grateful for. Write the names of things, people, places, or anything on the card and pen down thanks after it. I hope you will enjoy this activity as well.
Gratitude exercises #8: Gratitude notes
A gratitude note is simple and precise, unlike a detailed gratitude letter. Choose colorful note papers that are usually small in size. Write a sentence or two to appreciate and thank the person. Give it to them. You can also accompany it with a sweet or chocolate.
Gratitude exercises #9: Gratitude art
Since I have my kids, every painting I do with them is an opportunity for art therapy for me. Especially my daughter loves to paint and every day she asks: “mom, would you like to paint?” and almost always I answer “I would love to”. I mean it!
Then we choose the paint we want to use, the paper, put some candles, nice music and just chill. When I get in front of the paper, I invite mindfulness to my practice. What I paint depends on my mood and the necessity of that specific time. To give you some examples: I paint whatever I feel, self-reflection of a week or a month or a day, sometimes I paint what I am grateful for in my life or my day or just doodling with her into the same paper sometimes.
This little activity changed my life. It is easy, it is fun, and it fosters connection with those around you incredibly. Give it a try!
Gratitude exercises #10: Gratitude stones
Collect some stones, the small and round ones. Clean them. Now, cut out hearts from tissue paper. Place them on the stones. Paint them and let them dry. They will stick to the stones making them attractive and colorful. Gift them to someone to pay your gratitude.
One more idea is to paint the stones with different colors. After that, you can write on it the names of things you have as a blessing. You can be as creative as you want. So, I leave it to your imagination.
Gratitude exercises #11: Gratitude games
Games are always interesting. Play a gratitude game with your family or friends. Make the chits of names of every member, fold them twice, and place them in a bowl. Every member has to pick a chit having a person’s name on it. On separate note cards, everyone has to write three things they are thankful for about that person. Finally, read aloud your cards one by one without revealing whose it is about. The rest of the members have to guess the person’s name.
Another game is a good source of teaching gratitude to children. Collect different colored pencils. Assign each color with a different question. Like, assign red for ‘Name a person you are grateful for’. For blue, it can be ‘Name a thing you are grateful for’. Make a lot of questions like that. Now fill the colored pencils in an opaque box and tell each kid to draw a pencil from it without seeing. Then tell them their questions according to the color they get and get the answers from them. This way, they will learn to pay gratitude in a fun way.
Here in this article of 2 alternative ways of giving appreciative messages, you can find cool ways to show your gratitude to others in a game style.
Gratitude exercises #12: Gratitude affirmations
Affirmations play a vital role in developing a habit of positivity in you. So, decide a specific time for it; do it when you wake up or go to sleep
Whatever time you decide, sit on your balcony or a quiet spot in the house. Take deep breaths and focus on the day God has bestowed on you. Think of all the blessings and pay gratitude to God. You will feel the freshness inside you. Some examples are:
“I am grateful for my home, I am grateful to God for this life, I am grateful for the loving people around me, etc.”
Gratitude exercises #13: Meditation for gratitude
Meditation is one of the best ways to release anxiety and strengthen your body, mind, and soul. You can use it for a gratitude exercise as well. Here there is a beautiful 10-minute meditation practice for gratitude. Everything is explained step by step.
Gratitude exercises #14: Gratitude challenge
Gratitude challenges are very popular. Many people participate in 30 days of gratitude, 365 days of gratitude, and 21-day gratitude meditation challenges.
Prepare a gratitude challenge for yourself. It can be of any number of days you like. At the start, give yourself a 5-day challenge. Assign a task for each day. I am sharing an example:
- Day-1: Say thank you to your loved ones.
- Day-2: Send a message of thankfulness to your friends
- Day-3: Tell a loved one that you love them
- Day-4: Take a dear one out for coffee
- Day-5: Say thanks to yourself. Appreciate yourself for coming so far and all the struggles.
Gratitude exercises #15: Morning gratitude
Waking up safe and sound in your soft bed is in itself a thing to be grateful for. Starting your day with a deep and humble paying of gratitude to God will bless your day ahead.
So, I have a practice for you. After getting refreshed, sit on your balcony or a quiet spot in your house. Take deep breaths and focus on the new day God has bestowed on you. You are seeing today’s sun on a new day of your life. You have another day of opportunities. Think of all the blessings and pay gratitude to God. You will feel the freshness inside you.
Morning prayers of gratitude for Muslims
“The morning has come to me and the whole universe belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, O Allah, I ask of you the good of the day, it’s success and aid and it’s nur (celestial light) and barakaat (blessings) and seek hidayah (guidance) and seek refuge from the evil in it (this day) and from the evil of that which is to come later.”(Hisn from Abu Dawood) [A Hadith book]
Gratitude exercises #16: Prayer of gratitude
Duas for gratitude in Islam
In Muslim culture, the two raka’ahs of nafl prayer for paying gratitude to God are very often and popular. You can perform them at any time. Whenever something extremely good happens to you, you can pray two raka’ahs of nafl prayer and pay your gratitude to Allah.
“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.”(Surah An-Naml – 27:19) [The Holy Quran]
“O Allah, help me remember You, to be grateful to You, and to worship You in an excellent manner.”[Abu Dawud] [Book 16, Hadith 1422]
Catholic prayer for gratitude
Here is a Catholic gratitude prayer as an example:
“We give you sincere thanks for the rest of the past night and for the gift of a new day, with its opportunities to pleasing you. Grant that we may so pass its hours in the perfect freedom of your service, that at evening, we may again give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Gratitude is like freshwater coming directly from the source, the more you drink the more you would like to. It purifies you first then gives you joy. In the long term, it makes you softer by changing all your perspective through life and stopping to fight or resist. The more you show your blessings to life, the more you learn to surrender as you become to see beauty in everything.
Take your gratitude seriously. Do your daily gratitude exercises until you realize that gratitude becomes part of your life which brings joy, freshness, surrender, and love.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Gratitude Board!