• Nutrition Chopped

5 Simple Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice (2022)

Updated: Mar 8

Written by: Andrea Memon, RDN, LD, CD

Photo Credit: Andrea Memon

Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Prior to Thanksgiving, I was given a gratitude jar from a friend, Larysa Domino. It felt like a divine gift. During the week of Thanksgiving, my family members individually wrote down what each was grateful for and dropped the message into the jar. At Thanksgiving dinner, we read the collection. This was a very special moment, and it was the beginning of a new tradition in my home.


Shortly after, I listened to an episode of the Huberman Lab Podcast about the science of gratitude. This podcast is hosted by Dr. Andrew Huberman, a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology and the director of a laboratory at Stanford School of Medicine that studies “neural regeneration, neuroplasticity, and brain states such as stress, focus, fear, and optimal performance.”1 Needless to say, this podcast is fascinating if you’re like me and love science, health, and wellness.


Today, I’ll share my takeaways from episode 47, The Science of Gratitude & How to Build a Gratitude Practice:


1. Gratitude is a powerful tool you can use to boost your mental and physical health! A regular and effective gratitude practice can shift circuits and chemistry in your brain and body, which leads to positive benefits.


2. Studies have shown that performing a regular gratitude practice once per week can lead to a “pervasive and long lasting” positive shift in subjective well being. People reported feeling happier, having more meaning in their life, and experiencie awe.


3. Gratitude practice has been shown to create resilience to past and future traumatic events.


4. Gratitude practice has been shown to benefit and strengthen social relationships with others and your relationship with yourself.


5. Most of us are doing it wrong! Writing down a list of things or people you are thankful for doesn’t create the positive shifts in your brain and body that lead to the benefits of an effective gratitude practice. Instead, benefits come from someone expressing their gratitude to you for something you did or by you remembering a time this happened. Alternatively, you can get the benefits by watching, reading, listening to, or recalling a story of a powerful gratitude exchange between others.


6. Gratitude must be practiced regularly, but it’s a small commitment.


Here are 5 simple ways you can start a gratitude practice:


1. Write a thank you card to someone for their thoughtfulness, kindness or support shown to you or someone else. This will help the recipient experience the benefits of receiving gratitude.

Photo Credit: Amazon


2. On holidays where gifts are traditional, write a letter of gratitude instead. I recently did this for my husband's birthday. I hope this is a gift that will be cherished and remembered for years! For Christmas, my children are giving this book to their Grandparents. It has 50 fill-in-the blank pages with prompts to thank their Grandpa for the precious memories they have shared and to show appreciation, love and gratitude. The book comes in many different versions. To explore them, here are the links: What I Love About You, Why You're So Awesome, What I Love About Being Your Mom, Why You're My Bestie, What I Love About Dad, What I Love About Grandma, I'm Grateful For You, What I love About You, Sister, Why You're the Best Teacher, Why I Miss You, Why You Make Me Smile and What I Love About Us.


Photo Credit: Andrea Memon

What I Love About Grandpa Book


Photo Credit: Andrea Memon

What I Love About Grandpa Book


3. Find an inspirational person whose story you can read, watch, or listen to. To start, you can read this feel-good article about eight strangers that helped someone they didn’t know.


4. Start a gratitude jar. The goal is to write notes that thank members of your family for their kindness, support, help, forgiveness or encouragement. Read the gratitude notes together once per week.


Photo Credit: Amazon


5. Pick the day and time you will practice gratitude. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, recommends being specific about when your new habit will happen. In my house, I’m planning to read the gratitude jar collection with my family on Sunday night after dinner. Monday morning can be a little wild and crazy at my house, so I’m hoping this new habit will set us up for success on Monday!


Happy Holidays!

xo Andrea



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