The Simple Gratitude Practice That Changed My Life

This time of year, everyone is quick to share what they’re grateful for. But gratitude shouldn’t be just an annual tradition. It should be something you infuse into your daily life. 

I began practicing gratitude in earnest after being inspired by Harvard’s Happiness Project. A professor there shared a profound truth that stuck with me: The key to happiness is gratefulness. If you practice it, you’ll just be happier.

He pulled out his notebook and gave a quick example: “I’m really grateful for the amazing hamburger I had for lunch.”

Sounds silly, right? 

But what I discovered was that such a simple acknowledgment of gratitude attunes me to the bounty in my life. It develops a habit of noticing my good fortune and turning my attention to see all the great things around me—instead of focusing on what I don’t have.

My personal gratitude practice has evolved since that Harvard lecture.

It’s now three simple prompts that I journal most mornings: I write about something I’m grateful for, someone I’m grateful for, and this is the kicker—something about myself that I’m grateful for.

Today, it could be the perfectly ripe fresh fruit bowl I had for breakfast. Maybe it’s my daughter, who is now doubling as a housemate. Perhaps it’s my ability to put people I meet at such ease that they’re willing to go deep with me right away. 

It’s a simple practice that has made a profound impact on me. It can do the same for your personal life—and even your company’s culture. Imagine starting your meeting with everyone sharing one thing—a person, a thing, or a personal characteristic— that hey are grateful for. How would that change the tenor of your meeting?

One thing I know for sure is that it counters our culture of entitlement. “I deserve to have this.” Or, “I want that, but my company won’t give it to me.” Sometimes these sentiments are valid—I don’t want to discount that. But imagine making such a statement from gratitude. It changes the tone, doesn’t it?

We work and feel best when we turn down the volume on station WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and turn up the volume on gratefulness. So, I move from a place focused on what I don’t have to a place focused on the bountiful things that I already have in my life.

And when I struggle—because we all do, at some point—this practice gives me the new perspective needed to see and tackle those challenges with the confidence that I have what I need to overcome them.

I’d love to hear from you: what’s one thing, one person, and one personal characteristic you’re grateful for? Hit reply and let me know!

— CharleneShare the newsletter

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Charlene Li

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