10 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

Nicole Nina, LSCW, MSW, MA, CP on Apr 07, 2023 in Mood and Feelings

Why Is Practicing Gratitude Important?

People who recognize the positivity in their life are more likely to find and cultivate more of it, leading to a happier life. This is because our minds tend to replicate what we feed them. Practicing gratitude gives our mind the framework it needs to continue thoughts of positivity. 

In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the most widely used and accepted form of psychotherapy in the U.S., clients are taught to examine their thoughts and do away with ones that don't serve them. Thoughts of being grateful and positive are just the type of thoughts we want to keep around, as they lead to reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and many other mental diagnoses. 

Practicing gratitude preemptively reduces the risk that individuals will develop a mental health condition that they would need therapy for. Practicing gratitude can quite literally heal our inner selves by teaching what inner dialogue we should have.

Below are ten ways you can cultivate gratitude in your life.

1. Keep a visual that you will look at every morning. This could be as simple as a sticky note on your bathroom mirror asking: What am I grateful for today? Maybe it's a printed poster or wall art that gives you a cue to be grateful. 

2. Use a habit stack where you tie the practice of gratitude with a habit you already have. Habit stacking encourages the use of a new habit by pairing it with the one you already have. This can be as simple as brushing your teeth and thinking of something you were grateful for today. 

3. Involve others in your gratitude practice. If you eat meals with others, suggest naming something you're grateful for at the start of every meal. If you have children, try practicing this at dinner. 

4. Show others how grateful you are for them. Make a goal to express to one other person every day how grateful you are for their presence in your life. 

5. When you notice your mind drifting towards wanting something more or being dissatisfied, ask yourself to name three things you already have or are satisfied with. After a while, you may notice your mind stops drifting in this direction when you teach it to go the other direction. 

6. Try using gratitude as a conversation bookend. Whenever you wind down a conversation, try expressing something you're grateful for as a note to leave on. This leaves your mind oriented towards positivity for the next interaction. 

7. Try keeping a gratitude journal where you jot down three to ten things you're grateful about each day. Pair this with something enjoyable such as a time where you drink a warm beverage in the morning or settle down for bed. 

8. Literally say what you are grateful for out loud or write it down. Remember when we were told to take notes in school? It's because they work! Make a point to affirm what you are grateful for rather than just having a thought here or there.

9. Tell others about your journey to be more grateful, and try and cultivate more support around you. You will likely find others who want to join in. 

10. Be intentional about your practice of gratitude. Whether you chose one thing from this list or all of the above, get intentional about what your plan is. Making a resolution that you're going to be more grateful might not work without actionable steps. Be as specific as possible about what you're grateful for and how you're recognizing it and cultivating more of it.

Nicole Nina is a Clinical Social Worker in , .

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