Do you have a regular gratitude practice?

None of us needs to make a list of the things that are not working in our lives and in the world around us. For many of us, the default is always fear and negativity. So how do we change these toxic patterns? I would offer the simple act of gratitude as a path to a new way of thinking about our situations.

For me, 4-5 times a week, typically in the morning hours, I write down simple things for which I am grateful. A cup of dark roast coffee, good health, the cool breeze of the early hours. No need to identify overly grand matters, small does just fine. It will change you and put you into a state of mind that is more positive and hopeful. Neurologists confirm that gratitude alters our brains in a positive way, reducing the stress hormone cortisol and releasing serotonin, positive mood altering chemicals in the brain.

I challenge you to pick one of the practices listed here drawn from my upcoming book. Add it to your daily routine next week and see how it changes you. I would love to hear about your experience!

  1. Set a timer for 2 minutes: specifically record what you are grateful for and write it down.

  2. What are 7 synonyms for gratitude? Write them down.

  3. For 5 consecutive days, record daily 2-5 things for which you are grateful. Small things are fine.

  4. Write a handwritten note or letter to someone thanking them for the role they have played in your life or for something specific they did for you in the past.

  5. Notice a colleague’s specific work product or attitude, and let them know how it affected you.

  6. Watch your child doing something right, acknowledge it, and perhaps celebrate it.

  7. Thank some service provider in your life, a checkout clerk, a plumber, your cleaning person, etc.—write them a note enclosed with a monetary gift unrelated to any task, thanking them for what they do for you.

  8. Establish a regular daily practice of listing 3-5 specific things for which you are grateful. At year’s end, you will have a list of hundreds. Laminate them and save for your children.

  9. Write a note weekly for one month, thanking someone in your life.