Real Talk for Teens: 12 Ways to Practice Gratitude

Real Talk for Teens: 12 Ways to Practice Gratitude

What is Gratitude?

When you hear the word gratitude, what thoughts/feelings/beliefs come to mind?

When you hear the word appreciation, what thoughts/feelings/beliefs come to mind?

I personally use these words interchangeably because they both make sense to me. Both words give me the opportunity to reflect and find a sense of acceptance AND inspiration in my life. However, I do notice a slight energetic difference between these two words. When I tell someone, “I appreciate you,” I feel a love and connection in a really deep way. When I tell someone, “I am grateful for you,” I feel a lighter sense of joy and thanks. I find that I typically use the phrase “I’m grateful for…” to refer to something that happened in the past. The phrase “I appreciate…”, though, feels more active and in the present moment.

Both gratitude and appreciation are practices that we can integrate into our lives every day.

Now, before we explore a variety of gratitude practices, I invite you to consider and define the concepts of gratitude and appreciation in your own unique and meaningful way.

What does gratitude mean to you?

What does appreciation mean to you?


cactus in the shape of a heart


12 Ways to Practice Gratitude and Appreciation

  1. Use a daily gratitude journal or gratitude calendar.

    When would you like to practice gratitude? Is it bedtime? When you wake up? During breakfast? Stay open to the wide range of possibilities. You can even experiment by trying different times of day and see what feels most supportive. Note: You can simply use a notebook or calendar for this; no fancy tools or special journals are necessary. 

  2. Share about gratitude with your family.

    Invite each person in your family to share 1 or 2 or a handful of things they are thankful for. Explore the idea of doing this regularly and routinely over dinner or on the drive home from school. 

  3. Create appreciation cards, letters, posts, gifts.

    Tell someone how much they mean to you in a way that feels fun, loving, and generous for you. The options are endless!

  4. Schedule self-love and appreciation practices.

    Be sure to reserve time to appreciate yourself. This might be staying in on a Friday to watch movies or making time to do your hair and makeup just how you like it or exploring affirmation practices.

  5. Have a gratitude accountability partner or appointment with yourself.

    Set up a weekly or monthly time to slow down, reflect, and name all that you are appreciative for. You can do this with a friend or family member or solo!

  6. Write positive reviews for musicians or artists or YouTubers etc. that you love.

    Use your favorite platforms to review people who inspire you! Tell them how and why you follow and appreciate their work. 

  7. In tough situations that may trigger overwhelm, consider: What can I learn?

    When you feel the stress or negative self-talk rising, get curious about what the situation can teach you. Notice any shifts in your mood and energy.

  8. Tell people when they do something that warms your heart or helps you throughout the day.

    Pause and make time to say “Thank you for…” or “I appreciate the way you…” It matters! (To you and to the person you are thanking.)

  9. Use less-desirable times as cues to practice appreciation.

    For example, when you are waiting in line for lunch, consider what you are grateful for in the moment. Perhaps it’s the pizza you are about to enjoy. Maybe it’s the friend who helped you out with the math homework. Maybe it’s your notebook that gives you a place to create and express. And so on. Use moments of frustration or boredom as opportunities to seek joy in your life. 

  10. Donate money or time to organizations that support missions you believe in.

    Take time to research organizations that are doing work you truly care about. Volunteer with them or commit to donating a certain amount each month or year.

  11. Call a loved one and tell them you care about them.

    Just because.

  12.  Create your own gratitude practice.

What other ways do you like showing gratitude and appreciation?!


Developing Your Personal Practice

This article is an invitation to develop your own toolbox that supports you in appreciating your life, through the challenges and the wins. As you build your list of favorite practices, you may find a need or desire to connect with others around you, and I invite you to explore this guide to building your support system. Wishing you so much gratitude and appreciation in your journey! Thank you for being here. <3

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