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Practical Gratitude

June 26, 2016 by McKenna Ruzga

Practical Gratitude

Every so often, you stumble on one of those articles about gratitude that cites all the benefits of being grateful: improved mood, less stress, better sleep, decreased reports of aches and pains, increased self-esteem, more empathy. Every time, you think “Yes, this is what I need to do. Starting tomorrow, I will cultivate a new, more grateful outlook on life that will radiate joy and love throughout my life and I will probably be asked to write a memoir on how I found peace and achieved higher thinking.” And then tomorrow rolls around and you’re like – “Wait, but how? Eh, maybe another time.”

We’ve been there, and we’re here to help (but you’re on your own with the memoir). There are hundreds of different ways to practice gratitude, ranging from simple thoughts to more formal daily rituals – and any of them can help you achieve all the magical benefits. But we wanted to get really practical about what gratitude looks like.

That’s why we talked to the whole Yum Team about ways that they cultivate gratitude in their own lives, and compiled their thoughts into a handy list of ideas to help you get started, or maybe add a little variety to the ways you already practice gratitude.

Say It

  1. The most common response from the team: Say thank you and say it a lot. It’s often the ultimate act of kindness. Say it to those you interact with every day and those you might not otherwise even speak to. I’ve gone as far as to write a thank you email to an author of a textbook I found extra helpful. Our Love Coordinator Alana says, I sometimes go out of my way to thank the people who deserve it but probably don’t get it enough. Like a customer service rep that you just saw ripped apart by an angry customer.”
  2. Give compliments to anyone you interact with.
  3. Recognize gratitude in others and reflect that to them.
  4. Love people. “I tell the people I love basically constantly how much I love them. That’s definitely a way that I express gratitude for the role they play in my life.”

Think It

  1. Literally think your thanks. “Whenever I have that awesome feeling of overwhelming happiness, I tilt my face up and think ‘THANK YOU’ as loud as I can.”
  2. Incorporate it into quiet time. Whether you call it meditation or prayer or just quiet thought, make thankfulness a priority. Our co-founder Matt says, “I start my mediation each time with all the things I’m grateful for – people, situations, opportunities, areas that are hard in my life, and ultimately for being able to experience life and the gift of being alive.”

gratitude, how to practice gratitude

Write It

  1. Use a notepad or a journal to jot down things you’re grateful for, either right when you wake up or right before bed. One of our Yum Team members, Chris, does The Five Minute Journal every day. “It has you write down three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make the day great and one affirmation. At the end of the day, I name three amazing things that happened to me that day (often enough they are related to the above, what I wanted to happen that day) and a couple things I could have done to make the day better to improve myself and the next day.
  2. Sharing is caring. “A friend and I had a Gratitude Google Doc that we added to every day.” Accountability, and the added joy of seeing someone else’s blessings!

Do It

  1. Take walks. Don’t bring along any distractions, like music or a pet. Just walk around your neighborhood or in nature and be intentional about noticing what’s around you. “I’m always amazed by what I drive past every day without noticing, and it gives me such a deep appreciation for how cool all the little parts of the world are.”
  2. Listen when others are speaking.
  3. Give hugs. The good, meaningful ones to anyone who needs them. Or doesn’t. (We hug a lot over here.)


What are some ways you practice gratitude in your life? Has it changed your perspective or mindset? Let us know in the comments!

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