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 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, year round.
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?
12 Ways to Practice Gratitude and Appreciation
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.
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. You could even try this with friends!
Create appreciation cards, letters, social media posts, or small gifts.
Tell someone how much they mean to you in a way that feels fun, loving, and generous for you. The options are endless; you can thank a friend, a mentor, an author your admire, the drummer of your favorite band, a small business you support, and so on!
Schedule self-love and self-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. It might be keeping an awesomeness journal to document your growth or exploring affirmation practices.
Have a gratitude accountability partner or make an 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, family member, or solo! Maybe on the new moon. Or maybe each Sunday. Have fun exploring times that feel good and supportive to you!
Write positive reviews for musicians or artists or YouTubers or other creators that you love.
Use your favorite platforms to review or tag people who inspire you! Tell them how and why you follow and appreciate their work. Share their work with others generously.
In situations that start to feel overwhelming or too hard, consider: “What can I learn?”
When you feel the stress or negative self-talk rising in a situation, I invite you to get curious about what the situation can teach you. The pausing + attending to how you might grow can increase your appreciation! Notice any shifts in your mood and energy. (Note: This is a practice for “everyday” sort of challenges, not big traumas or harmful situations.)
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.)
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 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.
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 of money each month or year. You can also spread the word about these orgs by sharing on social media or educating your loved ones about their work.
Call a loved one and tell them you care about them.
Create your own gratitude practice.
What other ways do you like showing gratitude and appreciation?! How do you incorporate these powerful practices into your daily life? Please share in the comments if you feel called.
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.
I’m wishing you so much gratitude and appreciation in your journey! Thank you for being here.