bird on branch drawingWant more joy? Energy? Compassion? Satisfaction? Well-being?

What if you could get all this and more by spending a few minutes on a simple practice?

In her extensive research, author and TED talk phenomenon Brene Brown found that every joyful person she talked with did this and attributed their joy it. Without exception!

I think this is so important that I share a version of this article every year to remind us all to do this.

It’s Helped Me So Much

In the 1980s, I was attending an intense personal growth workshop in Deerwood, Minnesota. One night, as I lay on the top bunk in a rustic dorm room filled with a dozen women, someone mentioned her practice of gratitude.

Aware of my natural tendency to focus on the half-empty cup, I decided to try it that night. I did it again the next night and the next. Now, more than 30 years later, I still continue a practice of gratitude nearly every day.


Gratitude shifts my attention to the positive, improves my perspective, and helps me appreciate what is working well in my life. This increases my energy and my joy. Not a bad outcome for an investment of a few minutes a day!

Could Gratitude Help You?

It’s easy to drift into focusing on the negative, the problems, and what isn’t working in your life. But what you focus on expands.

Focusing on the negative and on problems gets you more of that, not the joy and fulfillment you long for.

If you could use more joy in your life, gratitude can make a big difference.

Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Davis, says gratitude is

“An attitude we can choose that makes life better for ourselves and for other people. I think about it as the best approach to life. . . When things go well gratitude enables us to savor things going well. When things go poorly gratitude enables us to get over those situations and realize they are temporary.”

Psychologists, spiritual teachers, writers, and researchers say that gratitude can:

  • Increase your energy and optimism
  • Shift your focus to what has gone well or delighted you
  • Help you not take things for granted
  • Make you more resilient to life’s hassles and stress
  • Encourage your satisfaction with life
  • Increase your compassion
  • Enrich your experience of life
  • Increase your happiness and well being
  • Improve your health
  • Bring you more joy

Who doesn’t want some or all of this?!?!


Grateful to Whom?

Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity church, wrote,

“It has been found by experience that a person increases his blessings by being grateful for what he has. Gratitude even on the mental plane is a great magnet. When gratitude is expressed from the spiritual standpoint it is powerfully augmented.”

If you believe in God, a Supreme Being, the Universe, or a Higher Power, send your gratitude in those directions. If you don’t believe or aren’t sure what you believe in, focus more on what you’re grateful for and don’t worry about to what or whom you are grateful. It will still work!

In Your Life

So how do you incorporate more gratitude into your life? Practice!

It needs to be more than just an “attitude” of gratitude. You need to do something.

Here are a few suggestions.

1) Begin with a big infusion of gratitude. Take 5 or 10 or even 30 minutes right now. Write as many things as you can think of for which you are grateful. Notice how writing this list changes your energy.

2) Keep a daily gratitude journal, each night writing five things for which you are grateful.

Knowing you’ll be doing this each evening will raise your awareness and attention throughout the day. “Oh, I need to remember that tonight.” “What am I going to be grateful for this evening?”

3) Do daily gratitude meditations or prayers.

4) Create gratitude art.

5) Do a joy jar  with a focus on gratitude.

6) Stop during your day and say (out loud if you can), “I’m grateful for . . . “

Take a few minutes each day to practice gratitude. See what a marvelous difference this can make!

What About You?

What are you grateful for? What do you do to practice gratitude?