Building More Joy With A Gratitude Practice
Noticing what's already good, right now, is one of the most effective ways to build more steady, inner joy.
Our brains are wired to notice bad things--bad emotions, bad interactions, and bad events. And we’re also wired to hang on to bad things. Almost all of us remember negative things more strongly and with more detail.
The good news? With a little consistent effort, we can offset those natural tendencies. One of the easiest and most fun ways is through a gratitude practice.
Two Parts of Building Gratitude Into
How You Think and Feel
Get clear on gratitudes
Tip 1: Rewiring our brains to make gratitude second-nature
Our brains are wired to notice and remember bad events, bad emotions, and bad interactions. Our tendency is to overlook the good. It's part of evolution and it's part of human nature.
Practicing gratitude is simply about training our brains to notice what's already good. But, we do have to do it often enough to rewire our brains.
Can you really rewire your brain? Yes. It's called neuroplasticity and it's one of the most incredible discoveries of our lifetimes.
Does this mean that we overlook problems and challenges? No, we still need to give them attention. And, we want to give attention to what's already good.
Tip 2: Gratitudes can be for anything--big or small
Tip 3: Try to vary the gratitudes. Explore what makes you grateful.
Do Gratitude Exercises
Idea 1: Write three gratitudes a day
Idea 2: Write a Gratitude Letter
Write a letter to someone. It can be in any form--a text, email, a paper letter. Whatever you choose, include concrete details.
For example, if you’re sending a text. Something nice to get (and to send):
You’re a great friend.
Even better, take it a step further, and add something concrete.
Thanks again for helping me figure out my next steps with my boss and helping me see things from different perspectives. You’re a great friend.
Or if you’re writing a letter, include details about what they did and how it affected your life:
I want to let you know what a role model you’ve been to me. When I was younger, I didn’t recognize how strong and brave you are, but now I do, and I see so many ways that you’ve influenced who I am today. Like the time when that guy hit our car and said it was because we were driving too slowly, so you...
It doesn’t have to be elaborate, you can send a thoughtful text in two minutes
This has impact in so many ways: As you write it, you feel the gratitude, you feel the joy of sending it, and what an uplifting surprise for the person who receives it.
Idea 3: Start a Group Gratitude Board
A group gratitude board is a simple way to build a little more connection and gratitude as a group.
You can make a spot for your family or your coworkers to write gratitudes. Whenever they’re feeling it or as things comes to mind--this is a spot to jot down something they’re grateful for.
If you're in person, you can use a big sheet of paper, or a corkboard, post-it notes on the wall,
If you're not physically in the same place, you can do a digital version in a shared document--there’s a lot of ways to be creative here
It takes maybe 5-10 mintues to get started.
Super simple: Spend about five minutes writing them down.
Pick a time to do it, and leave a reminder.