The science of affirmations

Gratitude Exercises: 10 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude, Today

Gratitude exercises open your heart and mind to all of the wonderful things happening to you and for you. They also help you build your emotional resilience by encouraging you to focus on the best parts of your life, fostering a more positive, optimistic outlook. If you truly want to experience the benefits of gratitude, here are some ways you can practice it every day.

February 5, 2024
7 min

10 simple gratitude exercises

These gratitude exercises are both simple and quick, so that you can easily squeeze them into your schedule. 

1. Start your day with gratitude

Gratitude exercises are the perfect way to begin your day! 

When you wake up each morning, before you begin your day, simply take time to list—either verbally or in writing—the things for which you are grateful. 

Ideally, you’ll be able to find a few moments of peace before your day has begun. However, if your responsibilities make that impossible, you can always go through your mental gratitude list while you’re getting ready for your day or during your commute. 

Practicing gratitude in the morning sets a peaceful, positive tone that you can carry with you throughout the day. 

2. Keep a gratitude journal

A gratitude journal offers a double dose of benefits: you’ll feel better when you write it and feel better again when you re-read it. 

In a notebook or on your phone,  list one to three things for which you are grateful for at that moment. Try to be as specific as you can, so that “future you” can recapture that grateful feeling when you look back over your journal. 

Of course, everyone has days that are more challenging. It’s okay if you’re simply grateful to have made it through your day. And if you’re really stumped, you can find gratitude prompts online to help you.  

3. Take a gratitude break

When your busy schedule makes it difficult to find time for your regular gratitude exercises, a mini “gratitude break” is an excellent alternative. 

Even better, this gratitude practice is so simple that you can do it almost anywhere: at your desk between meetings, in the car circle at your kid’s school, or even while making dinner. 

Take a moment to center yourself with a few deep breaths, then use your 5 senses to find reasons to be grateful. 

  • What are you grateful for that you can see?
  • What are you grateful for that you can hear?
  • What are you grateful for that you can taste?
  • What are you grateful for that you can smell?
  • What are you grateful for that you can touch?

Because gratitude has been proven to reduce stress and produce calm, this is an excellent gratitude exercise for whenever you feel frazzled or need a positivity boost.  

4. Share your gratitude

People perform little acts of kindness and courtesy every day, from a co-worker who shoulders extra tasks to the stranger who holds the elevator for you. And, for the most part, we offer a quick head nod and a mumbled “thanks.” 

Challenge yourself to truly tune into your feelings of gratitude and express them with enthusiasm and warmth. Look that person in the eye, smile, and thank them. Be specific: “Thank you for holding that door, my arms were full and I really appreciate it!” 

Acknowledging their kindness is more than good manners; it’s also a great way to elevate your gratitude. 

5. Practice gratitude affirmations

Words have power. And affirmations place that power where it belongs: with you. 

If you’ve never practiced affirmations, they’re surprisingly easy. Simply find or write affirmations that resonate with you and your goals, read them, feel them, and repeat them to yourself or out loud.

There are two types of gratitude affirmations. 

  • Affirmations to express your gratitude for a specific situation: I am grateful for the new beginnings I have made; I am grateful for my wonderful friends; I am grateful for the sun that shines on my face. 
  • Affirmations to increase your capacity for gratitude: I am filled with peace and gratitude; I constantly find new reasons to be grateful. 

Both are effective gratitude exercises, so we recommend mixing it up with a little bit of each.

But here’s the tricky part. You can’t just speak or read an affirmation, you have to truly believe it. You have to be certain, in the deepest reaches of your soul, that it is already coming true for you. That’s when the miracles manifest.  

Not sure where to begin? Download the I am app for affirmations you can use in all areas of your life, including your gratitude practice. 

6. Fill a gratitude jar

We’re big fans of quick, simple gratitude exercises; it’s much easier to find the time and energy for these. 

A gratitude jar requires only 4 things: 

  • Paper
  • A pen or pencil
  • A large jar
  • A grateful spirit

Whenever you’re moved to express gratitude, write down what it is you’re grateful for. As the jar fills with paper, your soul will fill with gratitude. 

When your jar is full or when you need an extra burst of gratitude, you can pull out the slips of paper and read them to relive your previous moments of gratitude.

7. Write a gratitude letter

We all have people who have made our lives easier, sweeter, calmer, and just all-around better. But when was the last time you actually stopped and thanked them for their positive contribution to your life? 

Right now is the perfect time to do so! 

Whether it’s a text, a short note, or a longer letter, take some to genuinely thank someone who’s made your life more amazing. 

Pay their kindness forward with your heartfelt gratitude; you never know who you might be inspiring. 

8. Set up visual reminders 

Seeing constant reminders of the good things in your life promotes a feeling of gratitude throughout your day. 

You could put up pictures of your most cherished family and friends, for example. Or perhaps you have a special souvenir that brings back memories of a wonderful vacation, or a treasured family heirloom, that you can display. 

Surrounding yourself with visual representations of what you’re most thankful for allows you to tap into your well of gratitude every time you look at them.

9. Be repetitively grateful 

One very effective way to make gratitude your newest positive habit is to combine it with other parts of your existing daily routine. 

There are certain tasks that you do each day. Brushing your teeth, sipping tea in the afternoon, going for a walk after dinner… you do these so often and so naturally that they’ve become second nature. 

Instead of daydreaming or scrolling through your phone during these routine tasks, you can turn your existing habits into gratitude exercises. 

Your morning coffee will taste even sweeter when you pair it with your gratitude practice!

10. End your day with gratitude

Studies show that ending your day with gratitude can help improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. 

First, create a calming, peaceful ambiance with candles or incense, soft music, and your favorite spot. 

Then reflect on the people and situations that made you feel supported, loved, and valued throughout your day. Allow your gratitude to flow through you as you recall these lovely moments.  

You’ll wake up fresh and energized the next morning, ready to tackle your day with a positive attitude. 

Final thoughts

Practicing gratitude consistently, ideally daily, is the key to unlocking its full physical, emotional, and mental benefits. 

The gratitude exercises above are simple and quick enough for you to incorporate into your lifestyle, no matter how busy it is. Choose the ones that resonate with you, then mix and match until it feels just right. 

Even just a few minutes of gratitude can be powerful enough to leave you feeling happier, calmer, and more content with your life.

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