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For busy moms, It can be a challenge to stop and reflect on gratitude when you’re go-go-going all day, every day; when you’re constantly being interrupted by little people who want snacks and screens; or when you’re always cleaning something because your home always feels a little too dirty or cluttered.
Gratitude takes intentionality, habit formation, and a bit of practice, but it’s most definitely worth it – it’s a wonderful feeling with plenty of real benefits.
I’m not always a grateful person – it takes work, especially when trying to create a daily gratitude habit. It feels easy when we’re at the top of our game, but it’s sooo much harder to be grateful when life throws its curveballs.
But I am working on it. As I’ve been working on myself, I’ve become more aware and more likely to stop and reflect on life’s goodness.
Here are some things I’ve learned about gratitude, its benefits, and the easy ways that I’ve found to implement my own daily gratitude routine.
What is Gratitude?
Oxford Languages defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Gratitude involves pausing to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted. It involves reflecting on how fortunate we are when something good happens – and even when it feels like nothing good is happening.
As a practice, it requires consciously bringing up these feelings on a daily basis. It doesn’t necessarily mean taking any actions on these feelings, although it can. It’s definitely good to express gratitude to those around you, but it can also be a deeply personal practice.
Being grateful certainly doesn’t mean ignoring all the crap life throws at you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t feel other feelings or that you need to suppress your negative emotions (anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.).
Why Should You Practice Gratitude?
To put it quite simply, practicing gratitude on a daily basis will change your life.
No, that’s not an exaggeration.
Gratitude has mental health AND physical health benefits. Here is a partial list of the many, MANY research-backed benefits of practicing gratitude:
* Increase Positive Thoughts. One of the most well-documented benefits of gratitude is that it simply makes us happier. Practicing gratitude doesn’t just momentarily feel good – it actually creates lasting and measurable changes in happiness levels.
* Build Self-Confidence. When we recognize and appreciate the goodness of others, it becomes easier to see in ourselves as well.
* Boost productivity. By simply practicing gratitude at home, work, or school, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your daily achievements, which leads to increased self-esteem and productivity.
* Shift your mindset. When you first start seeking out things to be grateful for, it may not seem like anything is happening. However, over time, you’ll notice a shift – you’ll start seeing the small things you used to take for granted, and you’ll focus on what you have rather than what you lack.
* Reduce stress. Gratitude can actually reduce your stress hormones, especially if you’re also taking care of your body by eating well, drinking water, getting enough sleep, and exercising. It can lead to lower levels of the stress hormone called cortisol in our bodies, which prevents the myriad of health problems that stress can cause.
* Increase your appreciation for what you already have. By definition, gratitude is appreciation for what you currently have, so this benefit is a pretty obvious one.
* And increase optimism for the things you don’t have yet. Optimism is hope that more positive things will come your way in the future. The more we’re able to see the positive in our current lives, the more likely we are to believe that there are even more good things coming.
* Improve relationships. Gratitude can help in ALL relationships. It helps us make new friends and feel closer to the ones we already have. Couples that practice gratitude toward each other feel better about their relationship and, perhaps more importantly, are more comfortable expressing concerns to each other.
* Increase generosity. Practicing gratitude leads people to become much more interested in giving than receiving due to actual changes in brain chemistry that make people more generous. That’s amazingly crazy, right?
* Physical health benefits. Actively being grateful can lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and boost immunity, among other things.
14 Easy Ways to Create Your Own Daily Gratitude Habit
To begin practicing gratitude, all you really need to do is take time, at any time, to think of something you’re grateful for. The tips below will guide you in taking your gratitude a step further.
#1 – Think Grateful Thoughts
Before your feet even hit the floor (or while you’re in the shower or enjoying your coffee or tea), think of a couple of reasons to be grateful.
Or while you’re lying in bed, ready to sleep, give thanks. Think of one thing that happened to you that day that made you happy. It’s such a happy, positive way to drift off to sleep!
Or set an alarm on your phone for some random time in the middle of the day. When that alarm goes off, pause for just a couple of minutes and take notice of the good things happening in your life.
(Bonus: Do all three! A triple dose of gratitude never hurt anybody.)
It’s as simple as occasionally stopping to reflect on your day and take notice of the good things happening in your life.
#2 – Start a Gratitude Journal
Each day (or every other day, or each week – you pick the frequency!), list one or more things that you’re grateful for. Challenge yourself to come up with new things – try not to repeat the same things over the course of a week, month, or whatever time frame feels appropriate to you.
Your journal doesn’t have to be fancy – a plain notebook will do just fine. You can also use your current planner or bullet journal.
#3 – Write a Thank-You Card or Email
Send a note of gratitude to someone who has recently done something kind for you or made an impact in any way. It will make their day!
You can also write a positive review for a business that recently gave you a great experience.
#4 – Start a Gratitude Jar
Some people do this at the beginning of the year or for the month of November for Thanksgiving, but you can start today!
Write down things that you’re grateful for on a small piece of paper and put them in the jar. Add to the jar as often as possible.
Then choose when to empty the jar and read about all the awesomeness that you wrote down. You can pull them all out at the end of a predetermined time period (week, month, year…), or you can read a few of them whenever you feel down or feel the need to shift your energy.
#5 – Pray
No matter who or what you believe in, prayer can be a helpful tool for generating feelings of gratitude. Expressing gratitude to God (or higher power or the universe) can be a way to evoke feelings of awe and appreciation.
As you pray, you can express gratitude for the air you breathe, the world you live in, and your body that can do amazing things. Prayer gives you the chance to marvel at the miracle of existence. It doesn’t have to involve one particular religion or belief – it can simply be a way to give thanks for being alive!
#6 – Flip Negatives Into Positives
When you’re having a rough day, turn it around in your head and think about what lessons you can take away from stressful situations, rather than solely focusing on your stress.
Here’s how this works: Something happens. It could be anything. You have thoughts about what just occurred. You experience emotions based on your thoughts. You respond to your thoughts and feelings with behaviors.
When you shift your thoughts from negative to positive, you have the ability to change your emotions!
#7 – Try a New Hobby
Choose something you’ve been meaning to try for a while. Making yourself happier (and making time to do something fulfilling) can help you feel more grateful.
My local library does these “take-and-create” crafts for adults. They give out one per month, and I’ve turned them into my “hobby.” They’re small projects, so they usually don’t take much time, but creating something pretty with my own hands brings me so much joy. Try it for yourself!
#8 – Use a Gratitude App
An advantage to this method over a notebook is that you can set alerts. Some of the apps even give you prompts.
#9 – Gratitude Around the Table
At your next family dinner, go around the table and take turns naming what you’re grateful for. Alternate questions to the basic “What are you thankful for today?” could include:
- “Who did you most enjoy spending time with today?”
- “Who did something kind for you today?”
- “What made you laugh today?”
- “What was your favorite thing about today?”
#10 – Show Appreciation for Others with Words
This is as simple as saying “thank you” to others. Show appreciation for people when they do or say something nice, when you feel gratitude for their friendship, or after a social gathering. Thank everyone who helps you (like cashiers and restaurant servers) when you’re out running errands.
Outwardly showing your gratitude not only makes you pause for a quick minute of reflection, but it also has the power to make someone else’s whole day a bit happier!
#11 – Take a Walk
Get outside – walk around your neighborhood or local park. Go for a hike in the woods. What do you see on your walk that you’re grateful for? What do you see that’s beautiful?
Take time to appreciate nature and all of the little things you usually miss when you’re outside.
#12 – Challenge Yourself
Try to completely stop complaining, gossiping, and / or criticizing for a short period of time, and reflect on how much energy you put toward these feelings.
Remember that your thoughts turn into your emotions, which then turn into your actions. The act of not complaining or criticizing will make you feel more positive all around.
#13 – Give
Give your time, your money, your old clothes, books, or housewares.
Giving is about helping someone else whose circumstances may not be as favorable as yours. It doesn’t matter how bad you have it – there is always someone else out there who is less fortunate.
Helping those in need can bring on a sense of compassion for humanity as a whole. Even if you think you don’t have a lot to give, remember that it can be as easy as cleaning out a closet or volunteering for a couple of hours at your local food pantry.
#14 – Take Care of Yourself
You busy mommas need to be grateful for yourselves, too! Taking care of your body by sleeping, drinking water, eating well, and exercising is a way to practice gratitude. You deserve it!
On top of taking care of your physical body, watch your self-talk. Reframe those negative thoughts and limiting beliefs – this will lead to higher self-esteem, more productive coping mechanisms, and an all-around healthier relationship with yourself.
Making Gratitude Part of Your Daily Routine
If you’re looking to make gratitude a daily habit, here are some tips:
* Set an alarm on your phone. When it goes off, stop what you’re doing and think of a handful of things you’re grateful for.
* Put it on your to-do list every day. This will give you a daily reminder to practice gratitude at some point during the day.
* Be realistic. Don’t force yourself to stick to a strict routine. You don’t want to get discouraged when you first start out. Start with one or two of the ideas above to find the ones that you’re best able to stick with – and the ones that you enjoy the most!
* Try something new. If you try one of the above ideas, and it ends up stressing you out more than it causes gratitude, switch it up. Don’t keep doing something you don’t enjoy when there are a hundred more ways to practice being thankful!
* Remember that practicing gratitude is all about the little things. When you go back and read your journal or gratitude jar (or whatever you’re using), it may seem like all of the things you’re grateful for are trivial little things. But that’s kind of the point – to stop taking those small, everyday things for granted!
The reality is that most of us are fairly spoiled relative to other people around the world. We have warm homes, nourishing food, cozy beds, and hot showers. And most of the time, we take it all for granted.
This is why practicing gratitude on a daily basis is so important. It allows us to see that the everyday things do matter – the people who surround you, the material things that make you feel happy, the simple activities that make you feel whole.
Gratitude isn’t about ignoring or avoiding your problems or challenges – it’s about giving you a new perspective on your life. It causes you to appreciate your life more, even when you’re having a less-than-awesome day.
There are so many amazing moments in the day that bring blessings!
Your turn! In the comments, tell me something that you’re grateful for or a way that you practice gratitude in the busyness of the everyday.