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What is Gratitude? And How to Practice it (With Some Gratitude Practicing Prompts)

These days, we’re all looking for subtle ways to change our daily practices to improve our mental health. Many people try meditation, or therapy, or exercise. While all of these can definitely be beneficial to mental health, there is one lifestyle change that many people often overlook: practicing gratitude. According to psychologist Robert Emmons, PhD, practicing gratitude can improve one’s happiness by 25 percent. Research shows that practicing gratitude can have countless physical, psychological, and social benefits. Those who practice gratitude regularly experience more positive emotions, have more energy, sleep better, have more empathy and compassion, have higher self-esteem, face less feelings of loneliness and isolation, and can even have better immune systems. 

Practicing gratitude means taking time to recognize and reflecting on the things in life that you’re thankful for. Introducing this practice can be a bit difficult for some since many people get stuck thinking about the negatives in life and all the things that go wrong. Making the shift from focusing on the negative to acknowledging the positive takes practice, but once you get it down, there’s no going back. Doing this often can help to train your brain into noticing and appreciating the goodness in your life more often, which clearly has endless benefits. 

Now you may be sitting there thinking, “where do I start?” Well, we’ve gathered some of our favorite beginner-friendly gratitude questions and prompts for you to start pondering on: 

  1. What was the best part of your day today? (It can be something as small as the fact that you took the trash out or had a good breakfast.) 

  2. What made you laugh in the past week?

  3. Who is someone who’s helped you recently? (Maybe you can reach out to them and tell them you appreciate them.)

  4. What mistakes have I learned from recently? (This helps you look at your past mistakes as lessons rather than hardships.)

  5. What’s something I’m looking forward to this week or month? 

  6. What’s something beautiful you saw recently? 

  7. What strengths did I recognize in myself today? 

  8. What weakness was I able to keep in check today?
     
  9. How was I able to help someone else out recently?
     
  10. How did I care for myself today? 

  11. What positive emotions did I experience today? 

  12. Who has made me feel appreciated recently? 

  13. What negative can I turn into a positive today? 

  14. What made you feel hopeful today? 

  15. What positive habits did I engage in today? 

  16. What negative habits did I avoid today? 

  17. What’s something that made me feel energized recently, and how can I experience it more often? 

  18. When was the last time I felt connected to others, and how can I feel connected again soon? 

  19. What positive thing did I notice about my surroundings today? 

  20. What’s something that’s inspired me recently? 

  21. While you’re eating a meal or enjoying a nice drink, be mindful of the experience. Feel gratitude for the warmth of coolness of the meal/drink, the aroma, the taste, your surroundings, the satisfaction it brings you. 

  22. Write a list of things you take for granted and make an effort to appreciate them more in the future. 

  23. Take a mindful stroll outside and keep gratitude in mind. Notice all of the positive things you can find: the smell of food coming from a nearby home, the sound of birds, the way the sun peaks through the trees, a squirrel running through the grass. 

  24. Acknowledge one ungrateful thought per day and transform it into a grateful one. 

And remember, you don’t have to be able to answer all of the questions here to practice gratitude. It’s hard to think of that many things a day or week to be grateful for! It’s okay to start small and only focus on the questions that you think apply to your life at the moment.