An “attitude of gratitude” is great but researchers suggest it may not go far enough. Instead they suggest a gratitude practice. Doesn’t that suck! I would much rather be able to say I have “an attitude of gratitude” and move on. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. If we want the benefits like more joy, less fear and increased resilience we actually have to make gratitude a regular practice.
Author and researcher Brené Brown brilliantly uses the metaphor of Yoga. You can think yoga, dress yoga and act like a Yogi, but unless you practice yoga you will not be successful at it. The same is true of gratitude.
A gratitude practice means making gratitude an intentional focus on a daily basis, and taking action based on that intention. Make it a part of your day as often as possible. Here are some ideas:
- Create a gratitude journal or jar. Even writing once a week is shown to be beneficial. And be specific, this will be more effective than writing that you are grateful for your family time after time.
- Write a thank you letter. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who profoundly changed your life. Expressing gratitude magnifies it.
- Linger over positive moments. Make a conscious effort to really absorb the good stuff. Don’t just smell the roses, savor them.
- Make a vow of gratitude. According to Robert Emmons, “Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed.”
- Learn or compose gratitude prayers. Many people find prayer to be a grounding factor in their practice of gratitude.
- Remember the bad old days. When you’re struggling to feel grateful remember a time that was difficult in your life. Be grateful those days are over.
So change it up and make it varied and fun, but find a way to bring action to your gratitude. You’ll be grateful you did.