Gratitude – the self-help strategy at the top of everyone’s list. It’s important and life changing, for sure, (I’ve even written about it before) but it too often gets boiled down into one simple practice: gratitude journaling.
Gratitude journaling is when a person sits down for a few minutes every day and makes a list of things they are grateful for on the pages of their favorite journal. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with gratitude journaling; and if that’s your thing, I support you 100%. But for some people, journaling just doesn’t resonate. And for others, it can be downright overwhelming.
Despite being a writer, I personally find journaling to be overwhelming due to my ongoing experience with depression and anxiety. Mental health challenges make it hard for me to even find the motivation to journal, let alone, pull my spiraling thoughts together into a few handwritten lines.
Photo Credit: Debra Snell Photography
If that sounds like you, too – I’m with you and I’m for you. That’s why I came up with the following ideas to help you up your gratitude game with more creativity and less overwhelm:
- Turn the Thanksgiving Day tradition of going around the table and saying what you’re grateful for into a daily tradition with your partner and/or kids. You can do this at breakfast to set the tone for the day or at dinner to close out the day with a thankful heart.
- Start weekly/monthly team meetings at your work with each team member sharing a moment of gratitude from the previous week/month. These could be personal or work related moments, depending on your work environment.
- Use your smartphone to take one picture each day of something you are grateful for, then save each picture to a special album on your phone. Whenever you need a mental boost or are having a tough day, you can open the album and scroll through to remind yourself of all the good things in your life.
- Hang a dry-erase board or chalkboard in your home – specifically for gratitude – where family members or roommates can write notes of appreciation to each other (e.g. “Thanks, roomie, for buying more dish soap!).
- Once each day express genuine gratitude to someone in your social circle (a neighbor, co-worker, friend on Instagram, friend in real life, pharmacist, postal worker, store clerk, etc.). Try to be specific, like “Thank you for filling my prescription so quickly. I have a busy day ahead and you just saved me a lot of time.”
- Create a gratitude hindsight board each January or, perhaps, on your birthday. This is similar to a vision board, but has pictures and words of things you are grateful for from the previous year of your life.
- For one week, replace complaints with words of gratitude. For example, instead of complaining about sitting in traffic, express gratitude for safe transportation or for the extra podcast you got to listen to during your commute.
- Send handwritten thank you notes more often, even when no gift giving was involved. Let the people in your life know you appreciate who they are just as much as what they give.
- Leave a gratitude review on Yelp for good service you received at a local business. Or, leave a book review on Amazon or Goodreads expressing gratitude if an author’s words have touched your life (e.g. I’m so thankful to have found this business or book because…).
- Buy a wall calendar and write down one single thing you are grateful for in the “date block” each day. This is a great alternative to gratitude journaling and may be easier for people who find journaling overwhelming.
If you have a unique gratitude practice or have tried one of the ideas above, we’d love to hear about it! Feel free to share your insights in the comments below.