Also called “ Three Good Things,” the gratitude practice is perhaps the single most popular intervention in positive psychology. This is because it is incredibly effective in changing our perspective from what’s going wrong, or what we don’t have, to becoming mindful of the myriad other things going right, and all that we do have. Life is full of blessings, including the very fact that we are alive. There are more than thirty- seven trillion cells in the human body all working together to create the beautiful you that you are. That’s thirty-seven trillion reasons to be grateful, and indeed trillions more things going right than going wrong. This is where we want to place our focus, rather than the relatively infinitesimal number of things not going our way or bringing us pain. The practice of gratitude is simply a matter of refocusing our attention and awareness on the blessings inherent in our lives to cultivate more positive emotions and ramp up our well-being. Singer/songwriter and all-around spiritual goddess Jewel says that when you are grateful, you can’t be angry or resentful because you are already full. The word itself implies being full— grateful—leaving no room for other, less productive, emotions. Because this intervention may be practiced many ways, I encourage you to explore different versions and styles. Tweak them and make up your own! Here are a few to get you started:
Keep a journal in your night stand. At the end of each day, pull it out and write down three things that you are grateful for. is is best done right before bed, so that you end your day on a positive tone,
infused with a strong sense of well-being. If you end your day by checking your phone, or ingesting social media or negative or disturbing television, you run the risk not only of disturbing your sleep, but of washing away any good vibes you’ve cultivated over the course of the day.
When reflecting on my own blessings, I like to cite one from that particular day, one from life in general, and one from relationships/connections. You may
recall that investing in your relationships is one of the most important facets of a happy human life. It is also one we tend to take largely for granted. Try getting specific about which connections and forces support you and how/why they add value to your life.
Here’s an entry from my own gratitude journal:
1. I am grateful for the exchange of pleasantries I shared with an elderly man in my neighborhood this morning. Blessings from strangers are divine.
2. I am grateful for my home. Thank you Universe for a roof over my head and walls around me to keep me safe and sheltered.
3. I am grateful for my mother, who teaches me how to be a more patient coach, and a more loving daughter.
Make a habit of expressing gratitude at the beginning of every meal, including when you are dining alone. If you are alone, you can speak your prayer aloud or to yourself. If you are among company, ask that each person around the table take a turn sharing one thing they are grateful for. Or, one person can take the lead at each meal, as “table representative,” to vocalize gratitude. Gratitude grace is a regular event around my family table, no matter who is present. When I vocalize the blessings, it usually takes the form of appreciation for every being that contributed their energy to bringing fuel to the table, with a special shout- out to whomever actually prepared the meal on that day. It sounds something like this:
Let us be grateful to every being that played a role in bringing this bounty to our table (list all of the players for added potency; the farmers who grew or raised the food, the bacteria in the ground who nourished it, the oxygen in the air that gave it life, the transporters that ferried it from farm to table, whoever bought the groceries, whoever cooked the meal, and so on), so that we may feed our bodies and nourish our minds with the healthiest fuel, and that this fuel may in turn help us to do better work in the world, and serve our fellow beings and planet in the highest.
Phone a Friend
Designate a friend to text or call, at any time of the day you both choose, and express gratitude to each other. Making this a regular practice with a friend holds you both accountable, so it’s harder to forget or blow off. You also get some bonus gratitude, because you’re vocalizing not just yours, but hearing someone else’s.