7 Ways To Cultivate A Creative Gratitude Practice For 2019

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Practicing gratitude can be a powerful way to strengthen your mental health while helping to amplify positive emotions. When you cultivate a sense of gratitude in your daily life, anxiety and negative emotions can often soften over time, while stress resilience increases. Feelings of gratitude can be grounding, relaxing, and peace-promoting, and a gratitude practice can also help shift your mindset in positive ways during challenging times. If you've been musing over your goals for the coming year, note that creating a creative gratitude practice for 2019 can help you hone in on your next-year goals, while potentially boosting your mood in the process.

According to Forbes, a simple gratitude practice can help you feel happier by increasing feelings of inner peace and tranquility. Psychology Today writes that the benefits of gratitude are backed by research, and include improved relationships, enhanced empathy, deeper sleep, and stronger mental and physical health. No matter what your goals for 2019 may be, if your aim is to practice more gratitude, you have options beyond your typical gratitude journal (which I'm definitely not knocking — gratitude journals rock).

Here are seven tips for cultivating a creative gratitude practice for 2019, so that you can close out 2018 with a mindset reset on the horizon.

1. Perform A Daily Act Of Kindness

"Kindness means a behavioral response of compassion and actions that are selfless; or a mindset that places compassion for others before one’s own interests. In performing the selfless act, a person may undercut their own selfish interests," writes Psychology Today.

Helping a neighbor carry their groceries, taking takeout to a sick friend, or volunteering your time at your local animal shelter, are all simple ways to boost your well-being by adding to someone else's quality of life, too.

Basically, practicing acts of kindness every day just feels good — even as it brightens someone else's day. So, everybody wins.

2. Express Daily Words Of Affirmation To Your Friends & Fam

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Expressing your love and appreciation to your crew is *major* when it comes to taking care of your relationships. And sometimes, telling your loved ones just how much you appreciate them might get lost in the daily hustle — but it can take surprisingly little to nourish your relationships. So, take the time to tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them and why. Words of affirmation and appreciation can make all the difference in someone else's day, and can strengthen your relationships in some powerful ways, too.

3. Identify Something To Look Forward To Each Day

Most days present a mix of experiences — some stressful and some you enjoy. Tiny Buddha writes that "When we don’t look forward to something — when we don’t enjoy it — we aren’t very present in that current moment. It’s like life is just passing by, and we’re just waiting for it to pass so we can get on with the more fun or interesting parts of each day."

By finding something to look forward to each day, even if that thing seems small, you can bolster your ability to focus on the good in your life, which can amplify feelings of gratitude over time.

4. Write A Letter Of Appreciation

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Old-school thank you notes and letters are underrated. By investing in some stationary you love, a sweet pen, and making it a practice to send thank you notes to your community, you're reviving some extremely sweet old-timey etiquette, while adding to your ongoing gratitude practice.

If there's someone in your life whose really made a difference to you, write them a letter of appreciation. Tell them how they've added value to your life, and how grateful you are for their presence in your world. Or just (actually) get in the habit of writing a note of thanks for your holiday or birthday presents. You never know how that letter might make a difference for them, and the practice strengthens your capacity for gratitude, too.

5. Reach Out To A Writer Or Artist Who Touched Your Life

While I don't recommend crossing any lines of privacy where public figures are concerned, if an artist has touched your life, let them know — a process that's never been easier thanks to social media. Writing their publishing house's public information email a letter, commenting on their blog, or even leaving some words of appreciation on their official social media page can help them know that they've made a difference, while reminding you of a positive influence that's helped shaped your experience.

6. Identify 5 Things You're Grateful For Every Day

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OK, so while this sounds gratitude journal-ish, it's still a great mental health muscle to flex. Whether you meditate and reflect on the things you're grateful for, or take a moment to jot them down before bed, reflecting on five things that you're grateful for each day is a pretty essential gratitude practice.

7. Take The Time To Appreciate What You Normally Take For Granted

Sometimes it helps to remember where you're fortunate, even on the most fundamental level. Hot running water, nourishing foods, and a supportive community of friends and family are just a few things that not everyone can take for granted. So, next time you take a hot shower, really enjoy it, savor it, and remember how good simple things can be.

Practicing gratitude can take so little to do, but yields a lot over time. By choosing a few ways to mindfully note and honor who and what you're grateful for every day, not only can you strengthen your own capacity for appreciation and positive emotions, but you can add value to others' lives, too. And that's something to feel great about as you head into 2019, friends.