Practicing gratitude is all about cultivating an attitude that both allows you to celebrate the good moments in life while at the same time helping you cope during the most difficult times. It has the power to lead to a shift in perspective, bring hope and reduce emotional suffering. It has the power to heal.
Today, I’d like to introduce three exercises that might help you kickstart a daily gratitude practice and share tips on how to overcome the challenges you may face while trying each one.
The Happy Jar Project
Created by Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, The Happy Jar Project is the perfect way to start noticing a good moment in each day.
Step I — Every day, think of something that makes you happy
Step II — Write it on a piece of paper
Step III — Fold the note and stick it in your “Happy Jar”
Challenges: Without a doubt, the biggest challenge you’ll encounter is simply beginning. So if you can collect an old pickle jar or a nicely decorated bowl, you’ve won half the battle already. The second obstacle is consistency. At first, you’ll be able to think of things off the top of your head. But after you’ve exhausted all the popular examples, what next? Well, that’s where the real challenge lies.
Benefits: You can modify the project to suit your needs. For instance, you might decide to read the notes when you’re going through a hard time or you can choose to accumulate these moments all year long and read them on New Year’s Eve. The best part though? A recording of these moments forever.
The 100 Happy Days Challenge
Don’t let the title mislead you. The 100 Happy Days Challenge’s goal isn’t to have 100 Happy Days in a row. Instead, it’s an opportunity to practice mindfulness and perfect for those who enjoy using social media.
Step I — Every day, take a picture of something that makes you happy
Step II — Upload it on any social media site — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Tumblr — using the hashtag #100HappyDaysChallenge
Challenges: Time. If you find yourself using the line, “But I don’t have time for this,” remind yourself that making time for this activity will benefit your emotional health in the long-term. Also, be careful. This project isn’t about impressing others, Instagram filters or the number of likes you get — it’s about boosting your mood and improving your life.
Benefits: It involves photography and the social pressure to post every day is good motivation. Like the official website states, people who complete the challenge claim to realize how lucky they are to have the life they have.
I have a list where I keep track of all the people who have helped me in the past and it’s by far my favourite method to practice gratitude. All kinds of people are on my list — including family members, friends, regular customers from work, doctors and even strangers.
Challenges: Keeping a list may sound easy, but I think it’s the most difficult way to practice gratitude. It’s tempting to give up as soon as you run out of ideas and that fancy Indigo notebook of yours might just end up in a drawer collecting dust. One way to overcome this is to hang a whiteboard in your bedroom or keep a journal on your desk.
Benefit: You remind yourself daily that you are not alone and you discover how many people care about you.
After years of practicing gratitude, I figured out that one way to enhance your daily practice is to share it with the people close to you. Sharing my practice validates its benefits and nothing makes me happier than watching my loved ones’ expressions as I tell them how grateful I am to have them in my life.