Gratitude: Definition, Examples, and Practices
What is gratitude and how do you practice it? Here's you'll learn all about gratitude, discover fun gratitude activities, and develop your gratitude practice.
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What is gratitude?
Gratitude refers to your ability to be thankful and express appreciation. When you take the time to think about the things and people that you are grateful for, you remind yourself of all the good things in life.
Why is it important to practice grattiude?
When you remind yourself of what you are grateful for, you train your brain to focus on the positive and generate positive emotions automatically. In addition, expressing gratitude to the people who you are grateful lets them know you appreciate them and helps you build stronger, happier relationships.
So how do you practice gratitude? Here are some tips:
Practice gratitude with journaling
An easy way to practice gratitude is to write a list of all the things you are grateful for about once per week. Try to think of as many things, people, places, etc., as you can. (e.g., Family, ice cream, trees...)
Check out this video to learn more about how to get the most from your gratitude journal.
Practice gratitude on social media
The easiest way to get started with practicing gratitude on social media is by writing short gratitude messages to the people you feel most grateful for. Want to try it?
Take a moment now to write down the names of three people you feel close to. Next to each name, write down at least one thing about each person that you are thankful for.
For example, you could think of something they did for you.
Did this person help you figure out what to do about a problem at work? Did they buy you a coffee, drink, or meal recently? Did they say something nice or do something nice for you? Or, it could be something about them. Are they just generally a kind person? Are they funny? Do they cook really yummy food?
Once you have your list, send a private message to this person a sentence or two sharing your gratitude. It could be something as simple as
Hey, you rock! I’m so glad to have you as a friend. Or it could be more specific – Remember that time when my car broke down and you picked me up? Just wanted to say thanks!
Try to get in the habit of sending these messages more often. You could even remind yourself to do it by adding your plan to your calendar.
Practice gratitude by writing a gratitude letter to someone
To take your gratitude practice up a notch, send a gratitude letter to someone who you never properly thanked. Maybe you want to thank a friend for always being there for you. Or maybe you want to thank your romantic partner for a very specific experience, like a gift or trip you took together.
In your gratitude letter, try to be specific about exactly why you value the other person. Go beyond stating the positive ways he or she makes you feel — be sure to say what it is about them that you are grateful for.
If you're feeling really brave, deliver this letter to the other person with an invitation to connect in person. This way, the letter helps you continue to strengthen your relationship with this person.
Activities to develop a gratitude practice
There are lots of ways to practice gratitude. It's up to you to choose the ones that work for you. The only thing that's required is that you stick to it. So if you're still searching for the perfect gratitude practice, check out these activities below.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.