How to Start a Gratitude Practice

After my second cancer diagnosis, I started to research who was thriving with cancer and what were they doing to be well. I learned that wellness is about consistent self-care – creating everyday practices that help improve your body and mind toward a state of good health. And studies show – according to Harvard Medical School that within “positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, which is why I promote small gratitude practices for all of us…And I’m here to show you how, check out my latest WTNH-TV wellness segment on this topic.

Focusing on on gratitude brings tremendous positive energy into my life. I started “The Grateful Game” with my son during our bedtime routine. We sat in bed, the lights out and timed each other for two-minutes sharing what we were grateful for and why. The person with the highest number of positive (and authentic) ideas – won! Now even though we made this a game…in the wise words of my mother – “It’s not whether you win or lose, Caryn, it’s how you play the game.” To me – playing this game is habit forming. Throughout the day, both my son and I look for things that have made us….(insert positive word here) = educated, positively influenced, touched (our hearts), happy and thus grateful.

Here are some other ways to add a little gratitude into your life.

Writing about Gratitude

Who hasn’t seen a beautiful journal sold at your favorite wellness hangout, local boutique or even Starbucks. Long form journaling or even short bullet lists can be an effective mindfulness technique bringing calm to your life. Taking it one step further and focusing on gratitude, writing it down, even for a few minutes can help refocus on the good when things in life are stressful.

Conversations about Gratitude

Play “The Grateful Game” – As I mentioned above, my son and I created this conversational gratitude list game that we play before bed. I also play it now as the closing segment with my podcast guests on “Happiness through Hardship” – The Podcast. It’s as simple as sharing what you’re grateful for and why…and the person with the longest list wins. Don’t worry though, even for the most competitive, we all win when we focus on the good in our lives.

Fill the Gratitude Jar Together – Keep a jar with pens and paper nearby so that family can fill it when they have a good day. Once the jar is filled, the family can read it together and perhaps even win a prize.

“High, Low, Weirdo” Conversation Points – A silly and simple way to chat about what was good (“high”,) not so good – (“low”) and different (“weirdo”) in your day/week during a family or friends dinner.

Holiday Games Focused on Gratitude

As we’re going into the holiday season, here are some ideas that take traditions and put a grateful spin on it.

Gratitude Pictionary – If your family doesn’t like the pressure of going around the table and talking about being thankful, play it out in game form. Move over movie titles and traditional Pictionary, in this game each person draws something for which they are grateful. All the same rules apply (no words, letters or numbers.)

Gratitude Tree – Put a tree up in your home and when guests arrive hand them an ornament. Each guest can write something they are grateful for and hang on the tree.

Shop Gratitude

Looking for ways to add gratitude to your life – here are some items that can help.


Listen to Stories sharing Grateful Messages

In addition to playing “The Grateful Game” at the end of every podcast episode, these guests share their stories including gratitude.

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