Similar to practicing mindfulness and meditation, gratitude is known to be a powerful tool for reducing stress, boosting mental health, and increasing one’s happiness. Gratitude is about recognizing the good things in our lives, which can be harder than it sounds — especially when times are tough and our stress levels are high. But one way we can focus on the things we’re grateful for is by writing them down.
This writing exercise shared by Mindful will help you practice your sense of gratitude. But just like yoga and meditation, it takes time to get into the habit of appreciating. Here’s how you can practice gratitude in five minutes.
1) Set a timer for five minutes.
You really can practice gratitude in just five minutes. You might even be thinking, I don’t need five minutes. I know what I’m grateful for. But the timer is important. On good days, when gratitude comes easily, that timer will help you reflect on — and truly appreciate — the good. And on bad days, it will push you to search for those small breaks in the cloud, even if you’ve told yourself they don’t exist.
2) Think of something you rarely notice but enjoy.
This can be a person, a place, an item, or even a concept. It could be something like a quick chat you had with a friend, something you ate, your pet, or maybe a walk around the neighborhood.
3) Write and reflect
Have a journal handy, and write down what impact this thing has on your life. When you think about it, what is the first thing you notice or feel? How would your life be different without it?
4) Read and take a minute
Read what you’ve written and reflect on what is in front of you. Take a minute to do so honestly, and think of how what you’ve written makes you feel. Do the things you’re grateful for bringing up any strong emotions?
5) Share it with someone
If you’re able to and would like to, share what you’ve written with someone. It can be a friend, a family member, or a loved one.
6) Repeat the process
Try and repeat this daily, allowing this to become a new routine. If you can focus on doing it for longer, that’s great. If not, even five minutes of gratitude can have an impact on your mood, sense of self, and your outlook on life.