Creating a daily gratitude ritual and actually practicing it is really important, but it’s not easy. Believe me, I’ve started and stopped and started mine again, many times over. Like with any new habit, it takes time and discipline (and life doesn’t always cooperate).
Here are 5 essential steps for how to succeed in forming a new habit (which is what you’re doing by adding a gratitude ritual to your daily life):
- Keep it simple. Start small (like, less than 30 seconds small). The #1 reason 99% of people fail with a new habit is they take on too much, too fast. It’s much easier to start small, then build from there.
- Get specific. Don’t just say you are going to do it every day. Actually make a detailed plan of how you will do it. For example, it can be something like, “While my morning coffee is brewing, I’m going to write down 3 things I appreciated about my day yesterday.”
- Link it to a cue. Find something that’s already a regular part of your day and attach your gratitude ritual to it. For example, as soon as you turn your lights off for the night (the cue), think of one thing for which you’re grateful. Or when you make your morning cup of tea (the cue), think of one or two people you appreciate in your life. When you link your gratitude ritual to something you already do, you’re more likely to remember to do it.
- Keep track of your progress. Research shows that actually acknowledging whether you’ve done a new habit or not can help you stick with it. We’re going to help you during this course, but you could just as easily use your daily calendar to check off whether you’ve done your gratitude ritual or not. Keep judgment aside -- there’s no need to be harsh on yourself if you skip a day or more. Just aim to get back on track the next day.
- Have some fun with it! If your gratitude ritual is something you feel like you have to do, you won’t stick to it. It should be something you look forward to doing, not something that feels like an obligation. And it’s okay to change it if it gets boring or you just need a change. There is no right or wrong way to be grateful!
For more about starting a gratitude habit, watch this video from Happier’s free “Attitude: Gratitude” course.