I used to say I had an attitude of gratitude until someone called me on it.
No, they weren’t saying I’m ungrateful. But they were making a distinction between an attitude of gratitude and a gratitude practice.
Hmm… my attitude of gratitude sounds a bit more passive—even detached—when put alongside a gratitude practice.
So what’s the difference?
I now think of it like this: An attitude of gratitude is how you show up in the world and your general outlook on life. If you have a choice between seeing the glass half full or half empty, which do you choose?
Choosing to see the glass half full means an attitude of gratitude is the backdrop of your life. Which is a great thing, but maybe doesn’t go far enough.
From attitude to application
And that’s where a gratitude practice comes in. This is where you go from attitude to actual application.
I’m grateful for…
I’m thankful for..
I really appreciate…
When I think of practicing gratitude, it’s like building a muscle. The more I practice gratitude—actively and with intention—the easier it becomes and the more available to me it is.
So how can you practice gratitude?
Well, you could keep a gratitude journal, each night writing down the three things you’re most grateful for. And they don’t have to be over the top like winning the lottery. Here’s my gratitude list from yesterday:
- The library had the book I wanted.
- Hans called just to say hello.
- I got in flow with a project and feel proud for making progress.
Another way to practice gratitude is not just being thankful in your head, but actually expressing thanks throughout the day—to your family, colleagues, the bus driver, store clerk…
The other day I saw this in action. The man in front of me at my favorite cafe said to the cashier, Thanks for always being here to get me my morning coffee. She beamed, basking in the glow of his expressed gratitude.
That’s what makes this one a bit different. Because what goes in your gratitude journal often stays between you and the pages. But expressed gratitude in the form of thanks is shared with someone else.
You could make it a nightly practice to go around the dinner table, each person expressing one thing about their day they’re grateful for. If you have kids, what a great way to instill a gratitude practice from a young age.
What three things are you grateful for today? Who have you thanked today? What would you say around the dinner table tonight about what you appreciate?