Gratitude is powerful. And it’s one of our favorite personal practices here on the Day Designer team.
Gratitude is the birthplace of joy. To experience true happiness, stop once a day to find something, big or small, to be grateful for. Gratitude is a practice of discipline. If it’s hard at first, it will get easier over time.
And joy isn’t the only benefit! Science has also shown that a regular gratitude practice lowers stress levels, reduces the risk of depression, and increases clarity and focus. “Gratitude turns what you have into enough,” says Day Designer creator Whitney English. When you replace scarcity and fear with gratitude, you’ll find that you always have everything you need. Who wouldn’t want that?
But, as with most things that are good for us, being consistently grateful can be a tough habit to make. It often feels a lot easier to focus on what’s going wrong than what’s going right, even though we’re all constantly surrounded by the latter.
These are three ways to practice gratitude easily and consistently:
Commit to 21 Days
Research has shown that it takes at least 21 days to build a solid habit—so commit to practicing gratitude every day for at least that length of time. Check it off in your planner for each of the 21 days (and hopefully, many days thereafter!) that you practice gratitude. We actually have a specific prompt for your daily gratitude on the daily planning page within the Day Designer. Fill it in and refer back to previous entries. Or maybe choose a friend to keep you accountable. Commit to texting one another one thing you’re grateful for each day. Make the commitment now to see your new gratitude practice through for at least 21 days. See how your own personal outlook changes. Once you’ve achieved your 21-day goal, you’ll likely be surprised how easy it is to maintain the habit!
Set an Anchor
When building any new habit, it’s helpful to set an anchor or a cue that prompts you—ideally, at the same place and the same time—to do the activity. Eventually, your brain will automatically begin to associate that anchor with your new habit and the habit will become routine. Perhaps you think of (or say out loud) one thing you’re grateful for when you wake up in the morning. Perhaps you’ll choose to do this as you sit down for dinner or before you go to bed at night. Maybe you’ll say five things you’re grateful for during your morning commute to work or while you wait to get your kids in the after-school pickup line. It doesn’t matter when or how you do it, just that you do. Set the anchor, build a routine, and watch gratitude become a regular practice in your life.
Maintain a Gratitude Journal
As anyone with a love for planners (ahem) knows, there is power in writing things down. We are more likely to remember what we’ve committed to in writing, and that includes writing down what we have to be grateful for. That’s why gratitude journals have become such a popular concept! (We think Oprah might have had something to do with that, too.) You can choose a special gratitude journal, use a simple notebook, or fill in the Daily Gratitude box in your Day Designer. Again, it doesn’t matter how or when you do it, so long as you carve out a couple moments in your busy day to focus your attention and write down something to be grateful for in your life.
Which tips will you use to help make gratitude a habit in your everyday life? Share your thoughts in the comments below!