by Elixir Staff

The daily practice of gratitude can effectively train your brain to be more positive and perhaps even happier. When we repeat a behavior over time, our brain rewires itself to do it more effortlessly in the future. Try to contemplate on the happy events in life to enable the brain to relive those good feelings. When we focus repeatedly on something that feels good, we cultivate awareness of the positive things in life. This habit fights off the brain’s tendency to dwell on the negative.

Try these 10 gratitude practices to help you feel more grateful everyday. Give yourself time each day to practice these exercises. Let us know in the comments if you start to experience a new habit of gratitude, and which practices resonate most with you.

Go Outside!

Make sure you take some time every day to walk in nature. It’s easy to forget the sounds of the birds or the smell of flowers when we are busy running errands, going to work, or even working out outside. It’s a beautiful world out there, so take those few extra minutes to go out and experience it.

Write Every Day

Whether you’re a writer or not, start a gratitude journal. Take time each day to write down 5 things you are grateful for. You can do it at the start of your day to think about all the things in your life that are going well; or, if you do it at the end of the day, use that time to reflect on the events you were most thankful for that day. We want to contemplate on happy events, this will help us focus on the positive things in life.

Smile!

The most inexpensive gift we can give a complete stranger is a smile. Plus, the act of smiling releases endorphins! Try smiling at everyone you meet today. You may be surprised how many people return the favor, and it may even put you in a better, positive mood.

Donate

Many of us are blessed with abundance in our lives. We can share that wealth with others by giving something away. It could be a pair of shoes you don’t wear, a flower from your yard, a compliment, or even a hug. Show gratitude by sharing—the act of inclusion is thoughtful and makes everyone feel good.

Get Up and Move!

Whether you’re very active or should be more so, get up and move. Try an aerobics class, go for a run, or stay home to dance to your favorite tunes. Exercise and movement facilitate the release of endorphins, which help us to be in a great mood. An elevated mood means more capacity to be grateful; that’s the power of positive thinking.

Reflect Before a Meal

Try taking a few moments to pause before eating or drinking. Even if you weren’t brought up with prayers at meals, stop and take a breath of gratitude for all those who helped bring you nourishment. Thank the person who prepared the food, and even the people who may be sharing the meal with you.

Laugh Every Day

If you’re having a great day or if today has been particularly hard, try to find something to laugh about. Laughter alone is good for brain health. Watch a funny movie, call up your best friend, or joke with the person next to you in line at the grocery store. Laughter builds a sense of heartfelt gratitude. If you’re feeling like you need some help cultivating laughter, try a laughter yoga class. It’s a brilliant way to meet new people and build techniques to make yourself laugh at home.

Cultivate Forgiveness

The capacity to forgive can have powerful benefits—do it for yourself and your health. We want a mind clear for positive thoughts, and letting go of resentment, the habit of dwelling on angry thoughts clears the space for thankfulness. Notice when you forgive, that there is possibility for healthier relationships, less anxiety, and a deeper connection to everything around you.

Make Space for Yourself

It’s hard to be grateful when you are stressed out. Remember to take time to do things that nourish you, like a good diet, exercise, mindfulness, and time with loved ones. These healthy things help us feel thankful, so it’s good to make them part of your daily life.

Be Here Now

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh teaches a short gratitude prayer designed to help cultivate appreciation and bring us into the present moment. “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I am aware this is a wonderful moment.” Pausing and repeating this for 3 rounds may be just the prescription you need for a more grateful state of mind.

Remember to be grateful everyday. There’s nothing more helpful in good times and more challenging times then remembering what you feel grateful for.

Photography Credits

Feature image by Kevin Phillips
Go Outside! by Alex Holt
Write Everyday by Green Chameleon
Smile! by Lesly B. Juarez
Donate by Aleza
Get Up and Move! by Messan Edoh
Reflect Before a Meal by Miriam Müller
Laugh Everyday by ludi
Cultivate Forgiveness by skeeze
Make Space for Yourself by Christian Bachler
Be Here Now by Ingela Skullman