The topic of gratitude can be a nuisance for some people, especially if you grew up hearing that you should be grateful for all of the things you have rather than acknowledging the things you didn’t. Even though this may be true for you, there are benefits of gratitude as an adult. Wallowing in gratitude with what you should do can keep you stuck.
However, it’s possible to accept that you may not have had everything and that you can create things for yourself now. You may have come from a place of deprivation and scarcity, had all the material possessions you needed without the finesse of love, or received both love and had your material needs met.
No matter where you are coming from, gratitude can be a good place to go to increase happiness and design a life that is loving for you.
Increased happiness is one of the major benefits of gratitude but growing gratitude can also help you come to terms with traumatic events in your life, help manage anxiety and depression, strengthen relationships, and achieve goals.
Acknowledging even the most basic things to be grateful for like food, shelter, and clean drinking water is a place to start your gratitude practice. Even if those things feel automatic, you don’t have to second guess yourself. Know that you are doing your best, and it’s not about perfecting your thankfulness.
It’s allowing yourself to feel appreciation for the abundance that you do have so that you can continue to accept it into your life. Whether you are starting your gratitude practice now or continuing to evolve, here are 5 ways to grow in gratitude and gain benefits.
1. Find an accountability partner.
People often suggest this for exercising your body, and it works for mental health too. Holding another person accountable can help you feel accountable as well.
Share what you are grateful for with your partner, a friend or other person who is also up for starting a gratitude practice. Send each other gratitude each day via text, email, or a mode of communication that works for you.
It can be simple by starting with 3 and working your way up to 5 things to be grateful for each day. If you forget, it’s okay. You are building and mastering a practice of gratitude, and that takes practice. You can start with food, shelter, and clothes on your back.
You may be amazed at how much the relationship evolves with your accountability partner through your gratitude practice. You will get to know how someone is doing through the lens of appreciation, and it can be eye opening to see what little things crop up in the exchange.
Some ideas that your partner shared with you may be your next gratitude. It’s an inspired way to build intimacy with someone whom you trust and can strengthen your relationships overall.
2. Use technology for gratitude.
Even though apps on phones aren’t always conducive to a healthy mindset, there are several apps specifically tailored to gratitude. This is a way to spin the negativity of technology into something good for your life. The app, Grateful, allows you to log what you are grateful for each day. The best part is that a prompt will guide you to reflect on your day.
This is a more independent approach but will still hold you accountable to the practice of gratitude. Using an app independently can increase self-awareness and self-dependency which build resiliency. It has easy-to-follow guidance and takes 10 to 15 minutes each day.
It creates a pause in the day if you haven’t had one or can guide a pause to be healthy, especially if you are spending time thinking about things that you do not have right now. With pausing and practicing reflection, you can get a sense of closure with traumatic events in your life.
A pause can give you time to move through emotions; reflect on what might be causing anxiety, stress, fear, worry or sadness in this moment. It can also give you the pause you need to reflect on the joy, accomplishment, excitement you might also feel.
A gratitude practice benefits you by allowing you to own and rewrite your story so that you can acknowledge and surrender outcomes.
Journaling is a way to get out on paper what serves or no longer serves a purpose inside of you. It’s a safe method to reveal everything in your heart and mind.
When you read your writing back to yourself, you may come to a new understanding of old patterns. You can free-write about the topic of gratitude each day, even if you have negativity come up for you.
It’s okay to honor where you are, not where you think you should be. You can also write 3 things you are grateful for each day in your journal. You can use the prompt below to guide you in your daily journaling.
3 things that make you grateful
10 intentions in past tense (ex. I drank green tea in a Japanese garden in Kyoto)
1 major goal that you are working toward
Make it as simple as you wish. If you want to focus on the gratitude portion of the prompt, you can. There are no rules on how this should look or what you have to do. It is setting yourself up to let things unfold with the act of surrender in place. Gratitude can grow goal attainment because of where you focus your thoughts, actions, and beliefs.
4. Write a thank you card.
Keep a stack of thank you cards so that you can tell someone how much their gesture mattered to you. This doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple thank you goes a long way and can put your own brain and heart in a space of gratitude.
By thanking someone else for their deed, you are more likely to recognize your own kindness in situations. If nothing else, a thank you card is a moment to pause for appreciation rather than dwelling on the lack in your life.
Choosing how to spend your time is up to you and thankfulness can replace rumination. This helps to strengthen bonds with people who you care about in your life and help you to recognize that there is an abundance of kindness.
5. Accomplish an act of service.
Kindness begets kindness. When you do service for others, you are more likely to realize the things that are worth appreciating in your own life. There is a strengthened bond with another person, and you are more likely to see your abundance.
Small gestures make a big difference. You can start by holding the door for someone. In doing so, take a moment to appreciate that you are able bodied if that applies. You can put a few extra coins in a parking meter. Then, make room for a pause that you had the means to do so. Genuine gratitude that is made up of grace for others is a gift.
By completing a few kind gestures in a day, you will realize your connectedness to the world and alleviate loneliness that may come up for you. Completing service for others is a way to help you appreciate all of the ways you benefit in your daily life.
Growing gratitude is not only a refocus of mental expenditure but also a gift to yourself. It is especially useful when you are feeling anxious, stressed, worried, sad, depressed, or like you have nothing left to give.
Gratitude is a way to lift yourself out of despair. With benefits like strengthening bonds, coming to terms with traumatic events, achieving goals, and increased happiness you will see yourself shift slowly.
By focusing on building and strengthening your gratitude practice each day, you will come to understand the abundance in your own life. You can fully acknowledge the things that are hard without losing sight of what you appreciate. Accept your resistance, delight, or neutrality to grow your gratitude practice today.
Denver Metro Counseling was founded in the principle of resilience with the belief that people can learn to live a rich and meaningful life by rediscovering their strengths, gratitudes, and resilience. DMC is a group of clinicians who provide therapeutic support for teens, adults, parents, and families.
Click on the links below for more information:
Young Adult Counseling
Support for Therapists
Help For Depression
Substance Use and Recovery Support
Trauma Therapy and EMDR