10 Ways to Feel More Grateful About Your Life in 5 Minutes or Less

Woman staring out at city

If happiness were a sports team, gratitude would be its star athlete. Countless scientific studies show that gratitude is not only one of the most powerful sources of happiness, but also that we can train ourselves to be more grateful.

Gratitude has a slew of important benefits, including reducing stress, enhancing immunity, deepening intimacy, increasing our quality of sleep, and lowering happiness-zapping materialism.

One of the easiest, research-proven ways to build gratitude is to keep a journal of the things for which you feel grateful each day. Gratitude journals have been shown to increase optimism and happiness within a few weeks, and these benefits tend to stick if the journaling becomes a long-term habit. Two likely reasons that gratitude journals are so effective are that they hold us accountable to feeling gratitude deeply for a few minutes each day, and that they subconsciously make us more alert as we go about our routines, encouraging us to notice the good things that we might ordinarily breeze past.

These 10 tips for building more gratitude in your life accomplish the same goals. Try a few of these techniques out for yourself to find what works for you.

Rock Out

Find a quiet, private space where you can toss on a pair of headphones and listen to your favorite music. Before you do, spend one minute thinking about why you love this song so much.

What does it mean to you? What memories does it bring up for you? Then, sit back and enjoy it.

Reconnecting Routine

When you meet up with a partner, friend, or family in the evening, make gratitude part of your day-to-day routine for catching each other up on the day. When you first see each other, share one thing from your day that you were grateful for and have them do the same.

Inspired Meditation

What place really inspires you? It could be the park across town or an architectural masterpiece on the other side of the world. For a few minutes, close your eyes and vividly imagine yourself in this place, aiming for rich detail. Capture the sounds you hear, the aromas that fill the space, and the sensations you feel. Name at least three things that you really appreciate about this place.

Your Message Here

Pick up a blank card next time you’re at the drug store. For the next week, pay attention to the unexpected ways in which people in your life show up for you. When you’ve found the right candidate, write a few heartfelt sentences that express your appreciation for what this person did for you.

Silver Lining

The next time you take a shower, think about one of the significant challenges in your life, either past or present. Then, identify at least one good thing that has come about because of this challenge. It could be a person you met or have gotten to know better, a trait you’ve developed, a lesson you learned… You get the point.

Spend a few moments appreciating whatever this is.

Get Creative

Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, grab a pencil and a piece of paper. Let your mind wander across all the things you’re most grateful for in your life. Now use the emotion of gratitude as your inspiration for a quick work of art. Be creative. A sketch, a word or phrase in graffiti font, an abstract doodle, or haiku are all fair game.

Warm Up to It

During your next workout, take the time during your warm up to remind yourself of how lucky you are. Think of 3 things you’re really grateful for at this point in your life (maybe your health, your family, or your career) and what they mean to you. Then break a sweat.

Stop and Think

When you hop in the car for your commute home or to run a few errands, take advantage of your mental down time. Each time you stop at a stoplight, name one thing you’re grateful for that happened today.

Special Delivery

What is the book you’re most grateful for? This could be your favorite fiction read or a book that taught you a lot at the right time in your life. Think about someone you know who might enjoy or benefit from the book in similar ways. Purchase a copy and send it to them.

Let Me Count the Ways

The next time you say “I love you,” add a “because __________.” Fill in the blank with something about that person that you truly appreciate.

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