3 Exercises to Cultivate Gratitude

March 27, 2018

When we were young the adults in our lives taught us that we had to use good manners. They said that we should always ask politely and show gratitude when someone does something for us. How many times have we been told “and what do you say?” And we respond automatically “Thank you!” We need to cultivate gratitude more.

Just like our parents before us, we do the same with our children. We think it’s essential that they show gratitude. But are we grateful on a day to day basis? The reality is we have a lot to be grateful for. Learn to cultivate gratitude and you will feel better!

“Gratitude isn’t just the greatest of virtues. It is related to all of them.”

-Marco Tulio Ciceron-

Cultivate gratitude to improve well-being

Gratitude is a feeling that you have when life (and those who are part of your life) smiles on you. When the little things are going well. Sometimes you might think that gratitude is not that important. But knowing how to use it and maximize it will bring you more positive emotions. That, in turn, will increase your sense of well-being.

When you use gratitude with good measure and it is balanced, you can make the most of it. How? In the first place, I recommend that you make time during the day to think about the person you want to show gratitude for. It could be your partner, your friend, a family member, or someone you spend time with. Then, think about something they did or said that you liked.

“Forget what you have given so you can remember what you have received.”

-Mariano Aguilo-

a hug to cultivate gratitude

Once you have in mind what it is you want to express gratitude for, write it in a personalized and concrete message. This will serve as proof of your gratitude and reflect how much you value that person. Write the date as well, and hide it in their things so they find it unexpectedly.

When they open their wallet or grab their socks, they will discover a lovely surprise. It will make them feel the same thing you felt when you wrote it – gratitude! If you do this once a week, imagine the effect it could have. Also, you don’t necessarily have to do it with a paper and pen. If we take into account all the new technology and ways to leave a message, the potential to cultivate gratitude multiplies.

Balanced gratitude – not too much or too little

Now you know how to cultivate gratitude and make the most of it. But, is it possible to use gratitude too little or too much? How can you balance it? If you are underutilizing it, the first step is to feel grateful to yourself. Gratitude, after all, begins with you.

“A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”
-Henry Ward Beecher-

To do this, you should start each day by pampering yourself. Get up 10 minutes earlier than usual and listen to your body. It is always communicating its needs to you, but you have to pay attention to understand them. So, check your facial expression, your skin, and your body in general.

Once you’ve observed what you need, enjoy a few moments of self-care in the shower. Give yourself a massage with a washcloth, and be aware of the pleasant sensations you feel. If your skin is dry, give yourself a massage with moisturizing lotion. That way you can cultivate good feelings on each centimeter of your skin. 

Just say “no” to overused gratitude

Why is excessive gratitude bad? It’s very simple – it might give people the impression that you aren’t being sincere. This can negatively affect your relationships. That’s why it’s so important to know how to use it with the right person at the right time. Expressing gratitude requires intelligence.

To achieve this, you can keep track of gratitude throughout the week. Write down when you say thank you, and how other people react to your gratitude. Once the week is over, you can see if someone communicated to you that it wasn’t necessary to say thank you so much.

thank you in sand

Or it’s possible that other people won’t react at all because we are expressing our gratitude too frequently. The alternative is to look for different ways to be grateful. That way you can make sure that gratitude has a positive impact on you, the other person, and your relationship… Practice these simple exercises to balance and cultivate gratitude! 

Bibliographic References

Sevilla, E., Chorén, P., y Cataluña, D. (2017). Capítulo 2. Gratitud. En D. Cataluña (Ed.) Manual de Ejercicios de Psicología Positiva Aplicada (pp 15-18). Madrid, España: Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid.