By Nataly Kogan

Are you doing gratitude wrong?

Did you know that there are 11,000 scientific studies showing that developing a grateful mindset is one of the best ways to live a happier and healthier life -- and be more productive, creative, and resilient at work.

Gratitude is an incredibly powerful skill and I've witnessed its benefits firsthand, as I've consistently practiced and taught gratitude to hundreds of thousands of people over the past few years.

But there's a catch: It turns out there is a right and wrong way to practice gratitude and only one of them helps us to experience the many science-backed benefits.

I was reminded about this last week, when we launched our brand new Happier Skills Group and I kicked off the week with my favorite gratitude practice.

It's called Gratitude Bookends and it's so simple yet powerful:

Begin and end your week, your day, or even a meeting at work by either writing down a few things you're grateful for or expressing your authentic gratitude towards another person.

As I began to read the comments from the group members, in which they shared what they were grateful for, I noticed a trend: Most gratitudes were fairly general, things like "I'm grateful for my family," or "I'm grateful to be alive."

These are wonderful things to be grateful for. But they are simply too general and familiar for your brain to truly register them. 

Our brains are incredibly adaptable, which means we get used to the bad and the good in our lives quickly. Your brain puts anything familiar on the back burner -- it's like it didn't happen. 

Gratitude helps us to experience more joy in our everyday lives precisely because it helps us not to take for granted all of the wonderful comforts and people who are so familiar to us.

But to truly work, our gratitude has to be specific and the smaller the moments of gratitude we appreciate, the better. Research shows, for example, that frequency of small, positive experiences has a greater impact on our life satisfaction than a few epic events of achievements.

So, I decided to nudge our Happier Skills group participants in the right direction. When I posed this Monday's prompt to start the week with Gratitude Bookends, I asked everyone to share specific and small gratitudes.

Boom! What a difference that made -- so many folks shared the small things they were grateful for and a few even commented that "getting permission" to look for something small helped them practice with ease.

I am sharing this with you to inspire you to make your gratitude practice as powerful as possible. It's one of my Daily Anchors and in addition to helping me feel so much more joy in my everyday life, it's helped me through many small and big life storms.

Next up: Yes, I used to think that gratitude was cheesy. Then this happened.

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