Live Better. Love Better. Work Better.

How Can I Practice Gratitude?

Hannah Hopper, LPC, NCC 

2020 has been a tough year (that might even be an understatement). We’ve all experienced new and unexpected challenges in different areas of our life, and it can be really easy to focus on all that has gone wrong. In the past several months, I’ve been trying to practice more gratitude in my life, and encouraging my clients to practice this too. Why practice gratitude when life is so hard? I had the same question! Turns out that practicing gratitude increases positive feelings, helps with sleep, boosting your immune system, and creates perspective with challenging situations. And the thing with gratitude is that it takes work and is a practice because it’s a shift in perspective. And so, here are several ways to start practicing gratitude in your life. 

  1. Don’t pick and choose: appreciate the little things

To practice gratitude, you don’t have to wait for the big events in life. Gratitude can be for the seemingly mundane things in life too. The practice involves noticing and being thankful for things you’d previously glossed over, and there’s nothing too small that you can choose to be thankful for. You can practice gratitude for the warm cup of coffee you have to start the day, or the way the sun begins to shine in the afternoon. 

  1. Find gratitude in the hard stuff

Maybe some challenge you’ve faced this year has helped you to appreciate other things you have in your life. Or maybe there’s a past challenge or difficulty that you made it through, and you learned something in the process. Set aside some time to reflect on the past difficulties you’ve faced and the ways you were shaped through the process. See if there’s something you went through that you can be thankful for now that you’re looking back on it. 

  1. Use mindfulness

Sit down each day and create a list of five to ten things you are grateful for. Notice how your body feels as you start to picture each item, and see if you can sit with that feeling in your body. Practicing this every day can begin to rewire your brain so that you’re naturally more grateful. It only takes eight weeks of practicing this gratitude exercise for people to start showing changed brain patterns that can lead to increased empathy and happiness. 

  1. Start a gratitude journal

After practicing mindfulness, journal the positive thoughts that have come up. If there are moments when you start to spiral into negative thoughts, take some time to revisit your journal and to begin shifting your thoughts back to areas in your life where you can feel grateful. 

  1. Express your gratitude to others

You can increase the gratitude you’re already feeling if you express it to others. Verbally telling someone that you’re thankful for them or even doing something small like saying thank you to a barista for the coffee they’ve made you can increase those happiness feelings. Not only does expressing your gratitude for someone help brighten their day, but it can also increase your levels of happiness and gratitude over time. 

Practicing gratitude is a key component of mental health, and many people find counseling helpful in shifting perspectives to see what there is to be grateful for. If you’re ready to take that first step and schedule counseling in Chicago, you can browse our therapist bios to find someone that is the right fit for you. You can also contact Symmetry Counseling today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our therapists. 


Symmetry Counseling Recent News Image 4
Recent Posts

When to Go to Couples Therapy? When You Notice These 3 Sign

Apr 30, 2024

Zoe Mittman, LSW If you’re asking the question “when to go to couples therapy”, you are in the right place. I am going to spend some time talking about 3 signs couples therapy may be a good fit for you.…

Read More

Healing the Heart – Tips for How to Get Over a Breakup

Apr 23, 2024

Breakups can be extremely difficult for both the heart and the mind. Grieving the loss of a relationship is taxing both mentally and emotionally. Whether you initiated the breakup or are the individual being broken up with, the pain and…

Read More

Surviving the Holidays: 5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Apr 16, 2024

Paula Gonzalez MA, LPC, ADHD-CCSP, CIMHP                                                                                         The Christmas holiday season can be filled with “tidings of comfort and joy!.” It can also be filled with lots of invitations to holiday parties that will have you “rockin’ around the Christmas tree…

Read More