Ten Gratitude Activities
Here are practices used by me and others (or me) that I know work to strengthen your gratitude muscles, which are a pre-requisite to Happiness. Some are simple, some complex; some are high-tech, low-tech, visual, verbal, or physical. There is no ‘perfect’ practice, so create one that works for you.
For more context and other ideas to apply Gratitude in your life, visit this extended post.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. This is the most basic and powerful practice in all of Positive Psychology. There has not been a single text on happiness published in the past decade that does not mention this exercise. Every day, write down three blessings from the past 24 hours. Pencil and paper or online journal work equally well.
- Offer a Prayer of Thanks. Robert Emmons, in his classic book, “Thanks!” says that 70% of people surveyed (all religions combined) pray daily. Those who say ‘thank you’ more often than ‘please give me….’ experience higher life satisfaction.
- Write a Note/Email. Every day, let a person in your life know you are grateful for them, and why. Even if you only honor workdays, in a year you’ll have sent 250 notes.
- Post one public gratitude each day. Be brief with a Tweet, or visual on Instagram or Pinterest. The power lies in sharing things that make you smile with thanks.
- Share With Your Partner. As you get ready for bed each night, share one thing you appreciate about your partner.
- Create a Gratitude List. Start with a list of 25-50 things for which you are grateful. Whenever you think of something new, add it to the list. Pull the list out and read it whenever you feel down, sad, or ungrateful, for a quick pick-me-up.
- Say a Gratitude Mantra. One person I know stands in front of her full-length mirror each day and says, out loud, “Happy am I. Healthy and strong am I. Grateful am I. Holy am I.”
- Three Square Meals. A good friend prays before every meal and says three things he is grateful for since the last meal (and he is the most grateful person I know!)
- Create a Body of Gratitude. This is one of mine. With feet flat on the ground, I pull my shoulders back and my head up, open my palms toward the person I am facing, and take a deep breath. Every time I answer a ringing phone, I take two seconds to shift into this body and imagine my heart opening as I breathe in and say, “good day!”
- Keep a Gratitude file. Every time you receive a thank you note, place it in your file. In email, create a folder to store these. When you are having a bad day open the file and, as you read, feel the warmth of other people’s gratefulness wash over you.
Remember to keep dancing with whatever shows up in your life and say “thank you” to The Universe at least once a day.
II. An Offer For Coaches and those Aspiring
I was the guest of Christopher McAuliffe, MCC, on The Coaching Show on March 4, a podcast by and for coaches. We titled the program, “Challenging Your Coaching Constructs” (you’ll see why)
Many people don’t know that, beyond my executive and health coaching practices, I train, mentor, and supervise student coaches for three different coaching schools in the US and Singapore. I seek to elevate the profession of coaching, which I believe has the power to change the world!
The topics in this podcast range from the personal to the professional. If you want to just take a peek, here are some approximate time markers:
00:00 The co-hosts do an opening riff
08:00 My Both/And, Vegan-ish lifestyle
11:45 What’s the One Thing I tell coaches?
19:00 The evolution of my Brand: the importance of “doing you”
24:00 How to find your tribe
28:00 The value of being visible
39:00 My advice to help you be a better coach
45:00 Groups vs individuals
49:00 Challenging the coaching construct: laser coaching
54:30 Pond mucking as metaphor for coaching!
Listening tip: I play my podcasts and audio books at 1.5X speed. I won’t take it personally if you do, too!