How to Generate Gratitude

Last week we talked about the benefits of gratitude: better psychical and emotional health, increased optimism and happiness, etc.

This week we are going to talk about how to generate the feeling of gratitude.

It’s one thing to know that gratitude is a good thing, but it’s another thing to know how to get it.

Reflect on Things you are Grateful for

The first and easiest way to generate gratitude is to simply reflect on things or people you are grateful for.

Remember during Thanksgiving Dinner when your parents asked you and your siblings to share something you were thankful for? That practice, although annoying as a child, is actually extremely helpful when attempting to generate gratitude.

Of course, the practice of reflecting on things you are grateful for is not something exclusive to the dinner table.

In fact, one of the best ways to practice this is to keep a Gratitude Journal. In this journal, you will consistently write lists of things you are grateful for. You might do this first thing after waking up, before you go to sleep, or simply when you have extra time during the day.

The important part of this practice is not how long your list is or even the content of your list. The important thing is that you spend time reflecting on things or people you are grateful for.

There are several other ways you can reflect the things you are grateful for, one of which is to meditate on the feeling of gratitude. There are actually several guided meditations that focus on the feeling of gratitude you can find on Youtube.

The iOS app Calm actually features an entire 7-day series that focuses on the theme of gratitude.

Have a Gratitude Trigger

A second way you can generate gratitude is to have what I call a Gratitude Trigger.

A Gratitude Trigger is simply a random object that is meant to trigger a reflection of gratitude. This may be something as simple as a red traffics light or stop sign.

Let’s use the red traffic light example.

So I’m driving down the street one day and come across a red traffic light. When I see the light I am quickly reminded that red traffic lights are my Gratitude Trigger. I then spend a few moments to reflect on something I am thankful for.

It’s really that simple.

I have used this technique in my personal life and it has proven to be highly effective.

Reflect on Times that you are Grateful

Sometimes the best way to generate gratitude is to look back on moments in your life where you felt a high level of gratitude.

I often look through photos from my high school graduation. It reminds me of all the great times I had with my friends and family during that period of my life.

I also like to look at photos from my trip to Europe last summer. They remind me of how privileged I was to go on that trip and how amazing the countries that I visited were. It also reminds of the amazing friends I made while traveling with People to People.

Are there any periods of your life that you are grateful for? It could be time spent with a loved one or a moment that you felt at peace with yourself. It may be a significant moment in your life or it might be something that is seemingly insignificant.

Spend Time with People you are Grateful for

The moments that I feel the most grateful is after I spend time with people that I care about.

This could be after a special event or even after something simple like going out to lunch.

In my opinion, people should be at the top of anyone gratitude lists. It is such a blessing to have friends and family that stick by you and support you.