I want to let you in on a little secret: until a few years back, I didn’t really get why people needed a gratitude ritual.
I mean, I'm a really grateful person by nature. I love people like crazy and don't take any of the positive experiences in my life for granted. I deeply appreciate everything and everyone I have around me.
If I'm already super grateful, why do I need a gratitude ritual? Why on earth would I need to add another thing to my already miles-long daily to-do list? Taking the time to write down everything I’m grateful for honestly felt kind of pointless.
But I was wrong. Completely, totally, beyond wrong.
A few years ago, I went through a phase where I would constantly get this bad feeling like something was missing. I was stressed to the max.
It had nothing to do with material things—I knew I had enough stuff (actually, too much, which is why I sold 90% of what I owned, including my house, to travel for a year).
I didn’t have enough, and I had too many demands. My to-do list was endless, which caused me to feel “lacking” instead of “abundant” no matter how many things I checked off my list. It felt like I just couldn't win.
Along with creating a to-don’t list (I’ll write more about that later), I carved out a little gratitude ritual to help guide my thoughts and shift my mindset. It was the exact change I needed and the immediate relief was immense!
I’m a ritual girl. They are my lifeline. And of all my rituals, the gratitude ritual may be my favorite. You may have a morning ritual or an exercise practice--but do you have a gratitude practice?
A gratitude ritual immediately shifts you from focusing on what you don’t have to what you do have. And when you're feeling stressed, a shift is exactly what you need.
Gratitude has proven physiological and psychological benefits, including:
- Higher levels of happiness
- Better sleep
- Increased mindfulness
- Less stress
- A healthier body
With that, here’s my own super simple gratitude ritual that can change your life.
Daily 2-Minute Gratitude Practice
I like to do this in the evening right before bed, but you can find a time that works best for you. The most important thing is consistency, so pick a time you know you can stick to.
1. Get a small notebook that will be your dedicated gratitude notebook. The notebook is key because it’s essential to actually put pen to paper in rituals instead of typing. The mind-body connect of writing your gratitude by hand amplifies the benefits, kind of like how making a home-cooked meal is always better for you than a store-bought one.
2. Keep it at your nightstand, or another place that you return to every day at the same time. Maybe the coffee pot so you can jot down what you’re grateful for as your coffee brews. If you're like me, you may find that you’re often grateful for coffee.
3. Every night (or morning), write the date at the top of the page.
4. Set intentions. Tell yourself you’ll write for a set amount of time. It can be for fifteen minutes. It can be for two minutes. I find that in the beginning, it might take longer, but as your ritual becomes a habit even just two minutes works.
5. In that time, write what you’re grateful for. Anything that comes to mind is fair game for your gratitude journal. Anything from “big stuff” like health, spouse, family members, to “small stuff” like almond milk lattes, the awesome new playlist for your workouts, the fact that you could afford your dentist appointment this month.
- The most important thing here is to be as specific as you can.
- Instead of “grateful for my sister,” write “I’m grateful that my sister called me on my way to work and compassionately listened while I told her about my disastrous date last night.”
- Take it up a notch by focusing on feelings rather than events. Like, “The cathartic feeling of bantering with my sister about dating in the modern world.” Write as many as you can in your allotted time.
The journal will become a record of your gratitude. With each entry, you are putting a coin into your gratitude bank, and over time you’ll have an amazing savings.
The practice is centering and calming for me, and reminds me of what is most important in life.
Grab a notebook today and set a reminder on your phone. Rituals take dedication and focus to build in the beginning, but if you stick with it for at least two weeks, it will start becoming second nature.
When that happens, you’ll be on your way to a new attitude and less stressed day. When we take the time to truly and deeply appreciate all that we have, our entire world can change for the better!