Developing a Daily Gratitude Practice

Today was a whirlwind! I was rushing from meeting to meeting this morning, zooming around LA in the back of a Lyft, while responding to emails, texts, and preparing for my next engagement. I barely exchanged more than a few words with the drivers, until my last ride of the morning. He asked how I was, to which I responded with the perfunctory, I’m fine, you? He paused and said, “I woke up well and healthy this morning, I can’t complain, I’m happy to have just woken up!” For some reason this really made me pause. It really put things in perspective for me. As stressed as I was about work and getting it all done, this statement made me step back and realize that life is good, I am healthy and lucky to be doing the things I am doing!

It is so easy to forget the good in our lives when we are constantly on the go and trying to reach for the next best thing. But we can’t let negativity overcome us. One way to combat these overwhelming or oppressive feelings is to cultivate a daily gratitude practice.

Reminding yourself of what you are thankful for on a daily basis has far reaching impact on your mental health AND physical health. In fact, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. They also sleep better! Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Lastly, according to the Happiness Journal, gratitude enhances your ability to decrease stress and increase positive emotion- No prescription needed!

Bottom line: The way we choose to view the world, how we frame things in our minds, and the grace and gratitude we show to ourselves and those around us can have just as much of an effect on us as getting great nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

And since it is the THANKSgiving season, here are my favorite daily gratitude practices:

  1. When you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night, think of 3 things you are grateful for. These could really be anything! I am very frequently thankful for morning dance parties, for my sister’s weekly call, and for the opportunity I have to pursue a career I am passionate about. Here are some other prompts you could use to start thinking of what you are most grateful for:

  2. Give hugs and kisses to those you love. Giving and receiving affection to your partner, parents, or even pet can help you start the day in a positive way and get you thinking in the right direction.

  3. Reflect on your day. What did you overcome today? What did you enjoy most about the day? Answering these questions will help you shift your focus from the could have/should have loop in your head and help you appreciate your effort.