The Power of Gratitude

Brandi Schmidt
Licensed Counselor

Practicing gratitude is a simple and effective technique that allows for a positive change in your mindset. Gratitude is nothing more than expressing thanks for the daily occurrences in your life. Research indicates that practicing gratitude can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

Benefits of Gratitude

  • Increased happiness + positive mood
  • More satisfaction with life
  • Better physical health
  • Less materialistic
  • Less fatigue
  • Greater resiliency

Express Your Gratitude

This can look different for everyone. The key is to find a version that works for you! Here’s just a sample list of some options – they can be tweaked – used as inspiration – or in combination with other ideas.

  • Journal – of course! (see below for journal inspiration)
  • Make of list (happy thoughts, things you are grateful for, inspiring things, etc)
  • Make it a family ritual! Say one thing you are thankful for at the dinner table, or before going to bed.
  • Talk to your significant other at night about what GOOD things happened that day. Make sure your words are positive and give credit to the people/things that made your day better!
  • Think of what you are grateful for when doing a daily chore (ie, washing dishes). It can take your mind off a chore you may not like and replace it with a happier feeling and/or is something you know you will do every day!
  • Meditate. Take time for you. Bonus: you can start your meditation asking yourself what you are grateful for.
  • Say “thank you” for the little things everyday – and actually be thankful for them!
  • Keep pictures of people, places and memories that make you smile. Look at them to remember how grateful you are for experiences like them!. Bonus: change pictures often or make it a goal to change them often.
  • Listen to music you enjoy + brings you peace.
  • Use your car-ride to work or after dropping the kids off at school (whenever you have a quiet ride ;)) to listen to music, a podcast, audio-book, or think of 3 -5 things you are grateful for.

Make it a Priority
Have you ever started one of these things but it didn’t stick? You were excited about it for about 2 weeks and then don’t even know why you stopped? Her are a few tips in order to STICK WITH IT.

  1. Why are you trying to start? What benefits resonate with you? Once you figure this out, it will help you stay on track instead of feeling like you are jotting stuff down for no reason.
  2. How much time do you want to dedicate to this a day? If you only have 60 seconds – maybe thinking of 3-5 things you are grateful for in the car is for you! If you the ability to sit down and reflect – a journal is probably more your speed.
    You can also add WHEN into the mix. If you know your mornings are super busy getting the kids to school, or feel too drained to think of anything – it probably won’t stick then. Try for before bed instead.
  3. If you are just someone you has a hard time slowing down, and/or remembering things, set an alarm or write yourself a note some place you know you will see it.
  4. If you are having a really hard time sticking with it, is there something else stopping you from being in the moment?

How to Journal
If you want to start journaling but don’t know where to start, here 21 ideas to get you started. There are also really cool gratitude journals out there that will prompt you with new questions everyday.

Prompt ideas:

  1. 5 things I like about myself are…
  2. I am grateful for…
  3. I am happiest when I am…? And how am I able to make more time/do this more
  4. What am I doing when I fee most myself?
  5.  A Facebook/Instagram post that resonated with me was…? (Think: was it good/bad, what made it stick out from other posts, what do you want to do about it?)
  6. By this time next month, I want to…
  7. What’s one thing you want your future self to always remember?
  8. What/who inspires you? What qualities do they have and how can you inspire someone else?
  9. One improvement I want to make (with myself, life, house, routine) is…
  10. How have I been holding myself back? Is my energy being drained by something else?
  11. My priorities for the day are…
  12. My priorities for the week are..
  13. Today I am thankful for…
  14.  One negative thing I think about myself is ____. Why do you feel that way? How can you reword this thought in your head to make is something you think positively about yourself? (ex. I don’t like my legs -> I love that my legs help me get everywhere I need to be.
  15. Today I am grateful for my body because…
  16.  What is something you need to hear today? (ex: you are working hard, you are doing a good job, this is worth it.
  17. What would you tell your younger self
  18. Yesterday was (tough), how can I make today better?
  19. 5 steps I need to take to get me to my next goal…
  20. Next year, my life will look like…
  21. fMy dream day looks like (think if money, time and any other obstacle wasn’t in the way)…

10 Free printable Gratitude PDFs our Therapist uses: