50 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude Every Day

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This article is was written by Scott Colby who has dedicated his life to sharing the message of gratitude.  He's an adventure lover who has always created businesses around his passions. If you'd like to discover a simple way to have gratitude conversations with the important people in your life, then be sure to check out his product, The Grateful Deck.

It’s no secret that gratitude has many positive benefits.

From improving self-esteem, to helping you become happier and more optimistic, it’s no wonder gratitude seems to be a buzzword these days.

However, for you to actually experience and feel the benefits of gratitude, it’s something that needs to be practiced everyday.

You need to be consistent with it, until it becomes a habit.

Now you might think that expressing gratitude is all about writing 3 things you’re grateful for in a journal.

And while that is one easy way to get started, it’s not the only way for you to practice gratitude each day.

Here are 50 simple ways you can practice gratitude not only with yourself, but with the important people in your life.

Table of Contents

Ways to Practice Gratitude on Your Own

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Keep it simple and each day write 1-3 things you are grateful for in the morning and in the evening.  It will allow you to see more joy and beauty in your days.  A lot of people focus on what they don’t have, or complain all day. 

When you focus on the positive, no matter how small, you attract more positive.  Make your gratitude even more effective by writing down WHY you’re grateful for the things you listed. (To get started for free, check out these gratitude journal templates.)

2. Don’t Compare

It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and want what they have.  When you do that, you’re not embracing your own unique journey.  We’re all on a different life path. 

Embrace the path you’re on.  Embrace your beauty and your uniqueness.  As Dr. Seuss said: you were born to stand out.  Feel gratitude for who you are and what you have.

3. Appreciate the Simple Things in Life

Trying to figure out what you’re grateful for can seem overwhelming if you’re only focusing on big things. 

What about the simple things in life?  That cup of coffee this morning.  The bed you woke up in.  That beautiful butterfly you saw on your walk.  What about your ability to walk? 

Not everyone has that capability.  We tend to overlook the simple things in life and take other things for granted.  Don’t!

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Embrace the path you’re on.  Embrace your beauty and your uniqueness. 

4. Live in the Now

It’s easy to dwell on the negatives of the past or worry about the future.  If you can live in the moment and take in everything as they happen, you’ll discover joys that are often overlooked. 

There are joys of watching your child play, the smell of coffee at the local coffeehouse, the conversation with your friend across the table (instead of checking Facebook) and the smell of rain.  Relish and embrace these moments.

5. Flash a Smile

A lot of people don’t smile these days, and often you have to be the one that initiates it.  But not only does smiling make you feel good, smiling at someone will make their day too. 

Smile more and watch how your day can instantly turn around.  While you’re at it, give compliments too.  Be sincere – find something about the person that you appreciate and let them know.

6. Go Complaint Free for 21 Days

Do you think you could stop complaining for 21 days straight? Complaining feels good because it gets out our negative feelings. However, if it becomes a habit, it can bring us down.

Switching from our complaints to all life’s goodness will enhance our lives.  There’s a book called A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen that talks about going complaint free for 21 days.  Check it out!

7. Take a Gratitude Walk

Whether it’s right around your neighborhood or a hike in the woods. Immerse yourself in good thoughts while you look at the trees, flowers, snow – all the beauty and abundance of nature.

8. Keep a Gratitude Jar

Keep a jar filled with notes on life’s blessings (small and big) in your home and whenever you, your spouse or children feel down choose a note from the jar for an instant lift.

9. Celebrate Your Wins

Be thankful for your successes.  Write down all that you have accomplished this past year, which you may not even realize how many there are and then savor these successes rather than thinking about what you didn’t accomplish.

The video below explains why taking stock of your little victories is the key to long-term goal achievement and provides a 3-step process you can use to start celebrating those small wins.

10. Recognize Each Day as a Gift

Each new day is a “gift” to us and the only appropriate response for this gift is gratefulness, says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk.  Every breath is a miracle.

11. Unplug and Play

Technology can consume us – ipads, ipods, TV, e-mail and more. Take time away from the electronics to embrace and enjoy the beauty of nature, which is great for the soul.

12. Tell Me Something Good

Say thanks before dinner to help express appreciation for the food that nourishes your body and the experience of enjoying a meal together with others.  You can even go around the table and have everyone say one thing that they’re grateful for. 

Bert and John Jacobs, the Founders of Life is Good, started doing this when they were kids.  No matter what hardships they faced as a family, no matter what was happening, their mother Joan made one request every night at the dinner table: “Tell me something good today.”  What a great way to practice gratitude on a daily basis.

13. Practice Mindfulness

Sit down daily and think through five to ten things you are grateful for. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body.

Practicing mindfulness by doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier after every session.

 14Do Yoga

Do you practice yoga? I admit, I’ve only done it a handful of times, although I have taken 2 yoga classes this year so I’m pretty proud of myself! Yoga is great though. 

Besides helping you become more flexible, which is something I definitely need, yoga allows you to learn to appreciate yourself through physical movement and exploration of the body.

You’ll learn to savor your body’s health, intelligence, grace, and beauty. Yoga is the union of mind, body, and soul and you can be thankful everyday that you can participate in such a practice.

15. Take Nothing for Granted

It’s easy to lose sight of all that we actually have, which is OK.  We’re human after all.   My trips to Guatemala taught me that you can still be grateful and happy even if you have very little. 

It’s all about making the decision to focus on the good.  So it’s important to stop and think about what and who you might be taking for granted. This will help you remember the many blessings in life.

16. Look for the Good in the Bad

So many times in life, unpleasant things happen to us and then, in time, something good comes out of that experience, like a better job or relationship.

Try to open up to any opportunity that might be there in difficult situations and use this new insight to find greater hope and strength.

17. You Have Enough

Remember: There is nothing lacking. Our minds tend to lean towards what we are lacking in life instead of all the abundance that exists around us.

We always have the choice to think about what is scarce or what is abundant in life. What’s key is to recognize this choice and the value this shift in mindset brings.

18. You Are Enough

Many of us talk about ourselves in a negative way.  Challenge your inner critic with thoughts of thankfulness, which will immediately turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. 

The other way you can think about this is when you’re writing down your gratitude each morning, make it about you.  What’s a quality about yourself that you love?  Write that down.  And do this every single day.

19. Create Gratitude Affirmations

Saying gratitude affirmations helps us to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. We have beliefs about ourselves that, if we changed, we would take more risks, overcome our self-imposed limitations and enjoy life more. 

So write down positive affirmations about yourself, really believe them and be grateful for them.

20Forgive Someone and Be Thankful

We can forgive for a better life by focusing on what we can be thankful for in a situation where a person has harmed us.

This is tough, especially when the harm was life altering. However, if we can look for the good that came out of the situation, it can help us to forgive and heal.

21. Play the Gratitude Alphabet Game

Go through the alphabet and think about 1 thing you’re grateful for that begins with each letter of the alphabet, beginning with the letter A, and continuing all the way through Z. 

Doing this when you lay down to go to sleep is a great way to end your day with gratitude.

22. Post Positive Notes or Quotes Around Your House

To help keep the feelings of gratefulness alive and part of your day, write little positive notes and post around the house so they are in plain sight as a steady reminder of all that is good.

23. Read Inspirational Books

Read books about gratitude and other inspiration.  This will help you understand more the powerful effect that thankfulness can have on your life. 

A good one to start with is Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, and see how the practice of gratitude can increase your happiness by 25%. 

Bonus tip: Buy a book for someone else and mail it to them.

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Reading books about gratitude and other inspiration will help you understand more the powerful effect that thankfulness can have on your life.

24. Set Reminders

In an age where we’re with our phones practically 24/7, use it to your advantage.  Set reminders on your phone to pause and think of someone or something that you’re grateful for at that moment.  Take it a step further and think about WHY you are grateful.

25. Refrain from Gossiping

We often gossip or think negatively about other people.  We are quick to judge.  Refrain from doing this. You don’t know what personal battles they are up against right now.  Instead, seek to help others and lift them up.

Ways to Practice Gratitude with Others

26Write Someone a Handwritten Thank You Note

The note could be for anything.  An expression of love, help, thanks, support or just for being there for you.  A handwritten note is one of the post impactful ways to express gratitude

It’s a lost art, but when someone receives your thank you card, it will make their day. (Check out this post on the different ways to respond to “thank you.”)

27. Volunteer

Give back to your community.  Whether you feed the homeless, build a playground for kids or volunteer at an animal shelter, find something that will allow you to make a positive impact in the lives of others.  This will make you feel great!

28. Say Thank You

There is a lot of power in these 2 words.  When someone does something nice, acknowledge them.  Tell them “thank you.”  Flash your smile with those words too. 

Not only will it make you feel better, but it will make their day too.  Whether it’s the checkout person at the grocery store or a stranger holding the door open for you, always say “thank you.”

29. Do Something Unexpected for Someone

It’s a great feeling to have someone bring home flowers unexpectedly, have dinner ready on the table, or give a hug out of nowhere.  Surprise someone for no reason and brighten his or her day.

30. Show Appreciation to Your Parents

Write them a heartfelt letter of appreciation for all of the love and support they’ve given you over the years.  Many times, we don’t show our appreciation to our parents often enough.  A letter is something they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives.

31. Create an Impact Video

Make a video for someone that has impacted your life and send it to them.  Really make it heartfelt and tell the other person not only that they have impacted you, but how. 

They will love it.  Tribute makes it easy to create a collaborative video montage that you can give as a gift on any important occasion.

32. Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Through your generosity, you can positively affect another person’s life and bring joy to yourself from having done so.  It can be giving a care package to the homeless, handing out roses to random strangers or buying someone in line a cup of coffee.

For more ideas, read our post about random acts of kindness.

33. Host a Gratitude Dinner

Invite your friends to a dinner party and show your appreciation to them.  It’s a great way to honor your friends and tell them how much they mean to you.

You can even give each person a blank card and encourage them to write a note of appreciation to someone in their life.  Another good idea – keep the dinner stress free by making it a potluck.

34. Hug Someone

Hug someone to show how grateful you are to have him or her in your life. A simple hug could be just what a person needs to feel loved and appreciated.

35. Give Away Cookies

Bring cookies (or coffee) to firefighters and police officers and thank them for their protection and service.

36. Donate to a Charity

Find a charity you believe in and make a monetary contribution to show your appreciation for the transformative work they do in your community, or nationally.  Or roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. 

One of my most life changing experiences was building schools in Guatemala.  I also had a lot of fun helping to build a playground for abused kids when I lived in Denver.  Find a charity that has meaning to you and then support them in whatever way feels good to you.

37. Call Your Parents More Often

Let them know you care about them and appreciate them.

38. Call Your Friends More Often

Yes, we’re in an era where it’s easier to send a quick text, email or Facebook message, however a phone call is more meaningful and you can have a deeper conversation (and connection).

39Leave Encouraging Words for Someone

Next time you are at a restaurant, at the grocery store, in a mall or even in the workplace, leave a positive note or quote with the intention of cheering someone up.

If you feel that you're not good with words, check out these different roundups of words of encouragement for various situations.

40. Give a Genuine Compliment

Give a compliment on on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire in someone.

41. Tell Co-Workers How Thankful You Are

Show appreciation to your co-workers or employees for their support with a project or task. You can do this face-to-face or with a nice card.

42. Raise Happier Kids

Now, I don’t have kids myself, but children are open books for learning and absorb things without judgment or reserve.

Teach a child to be grateful by helping him or her send thank you notes for gifts received, say thank you more often, give teachers and others gifts, volunteer and watch their happiness increase.

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Teach a child to be grateful by helping him or her say thank you more often and watch their happiness increase.

43. Spend Time with Loved Ones

If you’re struggling with feeling gratitude in the moment, go spend time with your friends and family. Of course it will help you grow closer to them and strengthen your relationship, but it will also give you a chance to practice your acts of gratitude on people that you care about.

Start small if they’re having trouble finding ways to support your friends and family. For instance, why don’t you make sure you’re listening intently the next time someone shares a story with you instead of waiting for your own chance to speak? Or start a conversation with a difficult member of the family by complimenting their new shoes or hair-cut.

44. Acknowledge Birthdays and Anniversaries

Acknowledge special days of friends, family and even acquaintances. A phone call, card, e-mail, or text might make their day!

45. Share Your Gratitude Around the Dinner Table

You can share one thing you were grateful for that day with your family and ask them to do the same. This also helps teach the practice of gratitude to children, enriching their lives.

46Make Gratitude Cards

You can have fun (and quality bonding time) by making gratitude cards with your kids.  They can hand them out to classmates, teachers, cafeteria workers, family members or anyone they want to express gratitude towards.

47. Brag About Someone

Acknowledge someone.  Be their biggest fan and brag about their talents or characteristic traits in front of other people.  You’ll make them feel so good.

48Spread Gratitude

Share the practice of gratitude with others. Is someone you know coping with stress or trauma?

Suggest that they ease worries and suffering by redirecting their attention on feelings of gratefulness.  Imagine the impact you can make on others by spreading gratitude.

49. Share a Positive Review

We often only write reviews when we have something negative to say. Share a positive review about a place where you stayed on a website like Yelp or TripAdvisor to help support a business.

50Thanks a Thousand

When you go to a coffee shop and buy a cup of coffee, do you thank the barista? 

Have you ever thought about taking your gratitude a little deeper, and think about all the people that contributed to your morning cup of coffee? 

This is something New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs decided to find out when he went on a quest to thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. 

There’s a lot of people who deserve a thank you when you think about everything that goes into making your morning cup of coffee.  From the lid designer, to the coffee bean farmer, to the people that pave the roads so your coffee can get to you in the first place, the number of people can seem endless. 

Next time you buy a cup of coffee, be grateful for everyone that made it possible for you to have it.

Final Thoughts on Ways to Practice Gratitude Every Day

There you have it – 50 ways to practice gratitude every day.  Of course you don’t have to do them all.  Pick a few and start there and create a daily gratitude habit.  In no time you’ll see the positive effects that practicing gratitude will have on your life. 

Finally, if you're looking for more gratitude ideas, be sure to check out these articles:

Scott Colby is an adventure lover who has always created businesses around his passions. Although he has spent over a decade in the fitness industry, helping people create transformations, it was a trip to Guatemala that inspired him to create his latest brand – Say It With Gratitude.

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