Admitting that we can be ungrateful sometimes isn't easy, especially for those who consider themselves to be positive, uplifting people. But, believe it or not, forgetting gratitude can happen to anyone who doesn't take an active role in ensuring that they appreciate all the good that they have in their life.
To help make the process of being actively grateful a little bit easier, the following are some daily gratitude exercises that anyone can do in their spare time:
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Lots of self-help sites talk about the importance of keeping a journal as a way of releasing burdens and worries at the end of the day. But the problem with them is that they can cause someone to focus only on what went wrong, not all the good things that happened to them. A gratitude journal is different. All a person has to do is jot down a few things that they appreciate. Long paragraphs of writing aren't necessary, and it takes barely any time at all. Then, on stressful days when it seems like nothing is going right, all it takes is a quick glance through the pages to help you start to feel a little better about everything you have.
2. Pretend that everything is gone
One of the fastest ways to boost gratitude is to try picturing a what-if scenario where everything that is a blessing to you in your life is suddenly gone. This exercise will be different for everyone, because each person has their own priorities or things they consider important in their life. For some, their greatest blessings might be their husband, their children, and their other family members. Others may consider about their co-workers at their job or their home. If these things vanished, how would you feel? See how important the good things in your life are?
3. Keep a blessings jar
An easy gratitude exercise — that even children can participate in — is the gratitude jar. Families can either have one large jar for everyone to share or each person can make their own. It works best if the jars are started at the beginning of the year. To use them, each person simply writes down what they are grateful for on a small piece of paper each day, then puts their paper in the jar. At the end of the year, each piece of paper can be counted up as a tally of blessings. Or families can choose to make a list of all the good things that they were thankful for throughout the year.
4. Make a gratitude tree
This gratitude exercise works great for an office or a classroom. All you have to do is put up a large sheet of paper or a chalkboard in an area that is accessible to everyone. Draw a large tree with lots of bare branches on it. Then, set some chalk or markers nearby, and invite everyone to write what they are grateful for on a branch in place of a leaf.
5. Write a thank you note
Simply taking the time to let someone know that you appreciate the things they do for you is an instant way to feel happier and more grateful. And it boosts their happiness and gratitude for the relationship too. What is great about this exercise is that it often causes a chain reaction. From a person out shopping to a person hard at work in their office, expressing and receiving gratitude spreads happiness around.
Always remember, whether you are suffering from bad manager behavior at work or you just want to help make your life a little bit happier, gratitude is guaranteed to boost your spirits. These exercises only take a few minutes to do, but the results are powerful. The effects go beyond your own happiness, because they encourage and uplift everyone around you.
Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who specializes in business technology, customer relationship management, and lead management. She also writes about the latest social trends, specifically involving social media.