These 8 Gratitude Habits Will Transform Your Life

Gratitude Habits - Thank You note

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

You’ve heard it so many times before.

The importance of gratitude, that is.

Maybe you’re wondering “What’s the big deal, anyway?”

Let me ask you a question. If there was a pill that, if taken just once, would instantly transform your emotional well-being, physical health, and social relationships, would you buy it?

If you’re like most people, you’d probably think it was too good to be true. You might think the person selling you the pill is a charlatan or a quack. If you did believe the claims, you might be concerned about side effects.

Similarly, discussions about the benefits of gratitude can leave you feeling like it’s simply too good to be true. This may have the unintended effect of producing more gratitude skeptics than successful practitioners.

The part that is often missing or de-emphasized is the importance of developing a consistent gratitude habit.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude does take work, but it also works. The secret of those who’ve successfully used gratitude to transform their lives is their commitment to practicing gratitude on a daily basis – including those days when they don’t feel particularly grateful.

To give you the best chance of developing a life-long gratitude habit, here are 8 practices that you can do in one minute or less each day:

1. Thank one person every day

Decide to intentionally thank at least one person a day. You don’t need to wait for someone to do something significant for you. Make an effort to thank people who may often be overlooked – like the fast food worker or the janitor. But this also includes close family members and friends. Doing so will remind you to never take anyone for granted.

2. Keep a gratitude journal (with a twist)

Maybe you’ve heard the importance of keeping a gratitude journal by writing three things you’re grateful for each day. While this is certainly powerful, I recommend doing it the way Darren Hardy describes in his book The Compound Effect. In the book, Hardy recounted the story of how he recorded one thing he was grateful for in his spouse every day for a year. The process transformed his relationship with his wife – and it made for an amazing Thanksgiving present.

If there’s a relationship in your life you want to improve, start working on this habit today.

3. Take deep breaths

You may not immediately associate taking deep breaths with gratitude, but doing so will instantly trigger feelings of gratitude. You’ll be grateful for the pleasant feeling a deep cleansing breath brings. Then you’ll feel gratitude for a body that breathes for you. Before you know it, the stress of whatever you were doing before will fall away as your mind becomes flooded with images of people and things you are grateful for.

4. Pay attention

Take a minute each day to pay attention to your surroundings. What people or things do you see around you? Take delight in all the small pleasures you get to enjoy – like your morning cup of coffee or favorite books on the shelf or your pet sleeping quietly next to you.

5. Track your moments of spontaneous joy.

You can use pen and paper or technology to keep track of the spontaneous moments of joy each day. If you do the latter, be sure to use the reminder feature to help you develop your habit faster. You’ll reduce your stress in the moment. But the real payoff is being able to look back on your accumulated moments long after they are over so you can see how incredibly blessed you are.

6. Carry a symbol

One of the ways to become more mindful is to carry or wear something that reminds you to be grateful – like a bracelet, a stone, or some other small item. This is a great way to maintain mindfulness throughout your day. And mindfulness will increase your capacity for gratitude.

7. Give thanks before each meal

It could be a prayer or just a word of thanks for the person who prepared your meal. This gratitude habit will give you at least three easy opportunities to practice gratitude every day.

8. Take a look in the mirror

When you wake up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say “I am so grateful to be here today.” This is a powerful reminder that each day is a gift and should not be taken for granted. Don’t let another day go by without expressing gratitude for your own life. It will help you make every day count.

Unleash the true power of a gratitude habit

Yes, developing a life-changing gratitude habit does take work.

Some days you’ll feel instantly better – other days, you’ll barely notice the difference.

But if commit to doing just one of these practices for thirty, sixty, or ninety days, you’ll unleash the transformative effects of gratitude that will help you establish a lifelong habit.

So what are you waiting for?

Pick a habit that resonates with you from the list and start on your road to transformation.

About the Author

Cylon is a spiritual chaplain, musician, devoted husband, busy dad of six, and author of Self-Love: How to Love Yourself Unconditionally. He blogs about practical spiritual tips for living well at Spiritual Living For Busy People. Sign up and get his free guide 20 Little Tricks To Instantly Improve Your Mood Even If You Feel Like Punching Something (or Someone).

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  1. S. Seetharaman says:

    Excellent. Wow. Simply awesome

  2. Mandy Dickinson says:

    Simple advice – but SO true!!!

  3. Stuart says:

    Excellent ! Why are the most basic things always the easiest to forget .. Thank you for the great post

  4. The Darren Hardy way of maintaining gratitude is something new for me. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Ann says:

    Thanks, Cylon!

    There is something to be grateful for if only we look beyond what we lack. I enjoyed reading the post!

  6. Thanks, Cylon, for a wonderful post full of gentle reminders of the power and attitude of gratitude. Loved the Darren Hardy suggestion.
    Cathie Jennings´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  7. Rose says:

    Great post. Thanks for reminding me these are alll things we know but forget to practice. Thanks indeed will start practicing immediately.

  8. Kathrin Wenzel says:

    Vielen Dank für die Erinnerung.
    Es sind die scheinbaren Kleinigkeiten, die uns immer wieder verloren gehen wenn wir uns nicht Tag für Tag auf’s Neue vor ihnen verneigen.

  9. Erin Ramsay says:

    I really enjoyed this piece, especially the sections on noticing your surroundings and connecting with at least one other. It’s so hard not to get caught in our own thinking patterns!

    • Cylon George says:

      So true Erin – I’ve gone through entire days barely noticing all the good thing around me because I’m so caught up in my own thoughts. It’s so easy to get trapped there, but it’s also easy to escape!
      Cylon George´s last blog post ..What is Spirituality?

  10. vipin says:

    You are quite right. Thanking one person a day is bare minimum one can do to express gratitude. Strange thing is that the more we express our gratitude for what we have the more we are blessed. irony is we rarely look at what God has already given us and keep begging for more and more and that brings thinking of scarce mentality.

  11. Miela says:

    Thank you, Cylon.

    Together with the inspiring talk by Mel Robbins about the 5 second rule of not supressing an impulse to do something and just do it you prompted me to write a grateful note to a very good person, Rick Hanson, whose “Just One Thing” newsletters help me to be aware of so many wonderful things in life.
    I don’t know so far what may come of it but it made me feel so good and warm while writing it. So it’s true: if you want to suddenly feel great, try to write a thank you note to somebody (especially a detailed one).

  12. William says:

    When I got clean from drugs, I was told to practice gratitude. It took me a whole year of my recovery to understand what that meant. Since I have been more humble and grateful to go from the hells of addiction to where I am today. Today, I practice gratitude daily, and it works for me!
    William´s last blog post ..Brought to Your Knees by Guilt – It’s Normal, but Don’t Stay There

  13. #4 – Pay attention. As a therapist, I “prescribe” all my new patients a mindfulness exercise. Simply by paying attention to their environment in a new way, they begin to experience brighter moods, fewer arguments, and better sleep. This one is very powerful.

  14. ​Hi Ceylon,
    Awesome and practical post !

    For me thanking pe​ople​ come natural​ly, but once my spiritual mentor shared , God is the creator of the universe,​ so ​we should p​ay​ grat​itude​ to Him regularly . I felt so much change in me afterwards . It brings the feeling of peace and contentment inside of me.

    It is said when we practice Gratitude we attract more positive energy (law of Attraction) ,which raises our vibration and in turn we feel more harmonius with the Universe/creator’s energy due to the positive energy we received.

    Here is ​a ​beautiful article which I read ​a ​long time​ ago​ and​ I​ felt nourished afterwards​
    Jagriti Aanand´s last blog post ..Subtle experiment – Are tattoos good for us?

  15. Tash Thomas says:

    In the theme of gratitude … Thank you for this post! I have some new habits to add to my list. I am a true believer in Gratitude and its transformative power, as I have experienced it myself first hand.

    Thank You!

  16. Julian says:

    I completely agreed with this article, and as you imply, gratitude promotes mindfulness, which promotes gratiude…a great cycle to be on.

    For me, I practice gratitude affirmations when I go to work, and try to focus on the feeling, not just words. Hearing that gratitude helps the immune system, and having insomnia, I understand the importance of gratitude.
    Thanks for posting

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