Gratitude in Action — 3 Practical (and Fun) Ways to Practice Gratitude
We hear it every day: It is important to live gratefully. Multiple studies link gratitude to physical, emotional, and social well-being. Research shows that people who focus on gratitude are happier, more resilient, more empathetic, and have stronger interpersonal relationships. Additionally, they have less stress, sleep better and take better care of themselves. All good stuff, but we all know that life is also hard and so many negatives come at us every day.
So, the question is: How do we PRACTICE gratitude so we can LIVE gratefully?
I believe the key lies in our ability to integrate specific ACTIONS into our daily lives. I love the idea of a gratitude journal, but in addition to this fundamental practice, there are so many fun, creative ways to live grateful lives. I practice gratitude by doing something different throughout the year, 31 days at a time.
Here are three fall-oriented practical (and fun) ways to put gratitude into ACTION this season.
31 Days of Gratitude Messages
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I practice 31 days of gratitude by sending a message of gratitude to 31 people who have significantly impacted my life over the year. This is one of my most treasured annual Thanksgiving–Christmas traditions and centers my heart for the season.
Instead of Black Friday shopping, I spend my Thanksgiving evening making a list of people I am grateful for. I identify those people who have impacted my life in a positive way over the past year. Then, beginning on the Friday following Thanksgiving, I select one person each day and send them a text message or email. My message always begins in the following way:
“Between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my annual 31 days of Gratitude. Each day I choose someone who has blessed my year and made an impact on this season of my life. Today, I choose you and here’s why:
The next section of the text is a very personal note to the individual stating:
- why I selected them
- how much I value them
- how they have impacted my life in a positive way
- what they mean to me
- how special they are and why
- how much I appreciate having them in my life
I close the text with this message:
“So (Insert Name), I say a prayer of gratitude for you today, and I am grateful that you are in my life”.
For each of the 31 days, I copy and paste the intro and closing message but make the heart of each message very personal, specific, and meaningful to the individual. This is the first thing I do when I wake up each morning, and I look forward to it each and every day.
31 Day Thankful Pumpkin
This is a fun idea I have integrated into my fall tradition. Beginning October 1 (this can also be done in November!), I buy the best pumpkin I can carry home and grab my Sharpie pen. This becomes my table centerpiece, and at the end of each day, I write one thing I was grateful for. It is a great way to train your brain to find that “diamond in the rough”—the one thing that stood out, even on bad days. For families, it can be a fun way to teach kids about being thankful, and they can look forward to writing something on their Thankful Pumpkin each day!
At the end of 31 days I read all my blessings and then, well, it’s time for the pumpkin to be returned to the earth — a symbolic reminder to me that I should not take any of my blessings for granted. For those who want to hold onto the memories, foam pumpkins can be saved year to year.
31 Day Horn of Plenty
The cornucopia is a symbol of plenty consisting of a goat’s horn overflowing with flowers, fruit, and fall vegetables. It’s symbolic of prosperity, good fortune, fertility, and abundance to demonstrate our thankfulness of the harvest. Instead of filling it with the traditional harvest gatherings, personalize it with your blessings.
Beginning at Thanksgiving, place a cornucopia on the table. Each day, write a blessing of thankfulness on a piece of fall-colored paper. Place this in the cornucopia to remind yourself of your personal horn of plenty.
This can be a great family activity. Each night before dinner, ask each family member to record their blessing, read it aloud, and place it in the horn of plenty before eating together. It is a great way to learn what is important to each other while having fun in the process.
Putting gratitude into practical, fun, and action-oriented activities brings positive momentum to your life and into your home. Practice gratitude in action—31 days at a time.