Last year I set myself a challenge to write down what I was grateful for every day for a year. Yep, three hundred and sixty five days of gratitude!
Every time I mentioned this challenge people would ask me all kinds of questions from, “How are you actually doing that?” to “How are you remembering to do it?” to “Do you ever get sick of writing down the same things every day?”
Because of this I thought I would share with you some reflections on this gratitude challenge (including what I learnt) and a whole lot of tips if you’re wanting to commit to a daily gratitude practice.
So whether you’re wanting to embark on your own daily gratitude challenge, or whether you’re just looking for some tips to help you add more gratitude into your life, I hope you’ll find something here that is useful to you for your own gratitude practice.
Gratitude has been apart of my daily life for many years now, but I didn’t actually write down what I was grateful for every single day. Even though I’ve had a consistent daily gratitude practice for a long time, but I’ve been very open on the “how” I do it every day.
But last year I decided that I wanted to devote myself more to a written practice (which is my favourite way to practice gratitude) and it ended up being one of the best decisions I made last year.
My intention with this challenge was to experiment and see what it would be like if I took the time to write down what I was grateful for every single day. I wanted to devote to my gratitude practice even more through a more consistent written practice. And I wanted to see what came up along the way, in what ways it was hard and it what ways it was easy.
So what happened? Well I ended up writing down what I was grateful for every single day in 2018 besides two days, but more than that I was once again reminded of how powerful the simple practice of gratitude can be.
1. Last year while undertaking my year of gratitude I had on-going health issues which were quite challenging. What I (once again) experienced was that my gratitude practice grounded and anchored to what mattered and helped me to keep my perspective and acknowledge all the good things in my life. It was one of the best things I did for my mindset last year.
2. Writing down your gratitudes become easier when you do it more. When it’s a habit it’s so much easier to do and over the year I witnessed it becoming easier and quite effortless most days.
3. It actually doesn’t take much time at all. One of the things people say to me when they want to practice gratitude more but they aren’t is that they don’t have time. After a year of writing down what I’m grateful for every day I now truly know that it doesn’t take much time at all. Most days it would take me between 1-3 minutes to do, usually no more than 5 minutes.
4. Doing something every day for me means that there is no decision fatigue around what day to do it and also no opportunity for avoidance. In the past I’ve found that when I’ve wanted to write down what I was grateful for “more” there was often an internal debate on whether I should do it or not. This challenge eliminated that completely, so I just got on with it and actually did it.
5. It’s okay NOT to be grateful. So long story short the only two days I missed last year was when I spent two days very sick with an infection and slept for an entire weekend day and night. I’m really glad I didn’t ‘force’ myself to be grateful during this time and just allowed myself to rest and get better, which is the kindest thing I could of done at the time. I also made sure I didn’t feel guilty about it either, because even though I know gratitude is powerful, self-kindness is always more important!
If you’re wanting to embark on a daily gratitude challenge for a week, or a month (or even a year like I did!), here are some tips on what worked for me that you might find useful:
∞ Make your gratitude practice simple and one that works for you and your life. This is super important as there is no point modelling someone else’s practice, so keep this in mind if you’re interested in undertaking a gratitude challenge yourself. From when you choose to do it, to “how” you practice gratitude, make sure it all works for you.
∞ Most days my daily gratitude practice involved writing down what I was grateful for at the end of the day around when I was getting ready to go to bed. My favourite way to practice gratitude is to focus on what happened on that day, what the best parts of the day were and to get really specific about those things (this also makes it really fun to look back on as it’s like a time capsule of the good things that happened that year). I also worked through my own experiment The 28 Day Gratitude Project when I ran live rounds, which was a really good way to mix things up and I also found it useful to refer to the prompts on days where I needed some guidance on what to be grateful for.
∞ The most common thing people say to me about making gratitude a habit in their life is that they struggle to actually remember to do it on a daily basis. So if you’re wanting to embark on a daily gratitude challenge (or create any new habit in your life) consider how you can remind yourself about it until it becomes habitual.
∞ Here’s what worked for me for reminders: The first thing I did when I decided that this was going to be my challenge for the year was to set up reminders on my phone to go off everyday to remind me. I also put my gratitude notebook on my bedside table (with a pen) so I would see it every morning and every night. This is such a simple way to remind yourself, and it worked really well for me.
∞ Adapt when you need to. So there were times during the year when it wasn’t practical for me to bring my gratitude notebook, so if I wasn’t sleeping at my house I would use the notes section of my phone and then transfer it pen-to-paper into my notebook when I could.
∞ I’ve been asked a lot if my practice felt repetitive with what I was grateful for each day and the honest answer is no. I was really mindful of not letting myself be repetitive as I know that it can feel less powerful for me in this way. But if I did find myself feeling a bit repetitive here’s a few things I do:
1. Being really specific with what I was grateful for.
2. Focusing on the particular day and asking myself, “What were the best parts of my day?”
3. Including the, “Why?” behind what I was grateful for, which I often found was different even if what I was grateful for was the same.
If you’d like some guidance in getting started with your gratitude everyday challenge, you might find my award-nominated experiment The 28 Day Gratitude Project useful for this. It includes: Daily emails for 28 days (including a specific gratitude action/prompt to do that day), an epic digital workbook to support you through the experiment (and guide you in your gratitude practice long after it’s over!). If this sounds like it might be supportive for right now you can find out more and sign up via the button below.
I hope that this article has given you some tips if you’re wanting to embark on your own daily challenge or just given you something useful to help you add more gratitude into your life.
PS. You can get access to some FREE gratitude resources below!
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Plus you’ll receive personal emails from me a couple of times a month(ish) where I share personal insights, stories and behind-the-scenes happenings (that I don’t share anywhere else!). It’s my ultimate aim is that these emails are useful to you and can make your day a little brighter or better than it was before. Sound good to you? You can join the community and get access to The Infinite Collection by entering your details below!