One Simple Change: Practice Gratitude

Welcome to Week 17 of One Simple Change: my year-long series of posts that focus on small changes…changes that when practiced and cultivated into habits will help improve the quality of your life and help make you a healthier person.

As I stated in my last 2 posts, this week marks 3 years since I started this blog. Because I am so thankful for my readers, and because I read this wonderful post this week, gratitude has really been on my mind as of late. So gratitude is what I want to focus on for One Simple Change today.

I have to be honest: I never thought I’d be writing a post about gratitude here. I started this site as a recipe blog, and I didn’t plan to stray too far from discussions of food and its impact on health. So why am I writing about this topic? Because an all-around healthy lifestyle is about more than the foods you eat. And practicing gratitude appears to have an impact on both health and happiness.

I am not sure where I read it (The Secret, maybe?), but I’ve always liked the following quote: “until we are grateful for what we already have, we can’t expect anything new to come into our life”.

To me, this means that our lives can’t change or improve if we spend all of our time thinking about what we don’t have. We must appreciate what we do have before anything new and potentially positive can come our way.

My go-to site for wisdom of this sort is Zen Habits, and I love what author Leo Babauta has to say about gratitude. I love the idea of holding a daily “gratitude session”, too.

I am not a particularly spiritual person, so for me, practicing gratitude simply means devoting some time to thinking about and being grateful for everything positive that exists in my life- my family, my friends, my health, my house, my pets, good food, the ability to connect with others through this blog, etc. Are there negative things in my life? Sure. But when I am practicing gratitude, I put those out of my mind, and focus only on things that are positive.

I’ve been trying to do this more and more often as I find that practicing gratitude calms me down when I am feeling stressed. It also helps me reverse the negative thought patterns I occasionally fall into, and it is a pretty effective way to turn a bad day around.

And don’t be afraid to share your gratitude with others…tell people that you appreciate them! Phone calls and thank you notes, in particular, let others know that you are grateful for something they did, or simply that you are glad they are a part of your life.

Are you new to the concept of practicing gratitude or is this old hat to you? What do you think? Are you “in” to this week’s One Small Change? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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13 thoughts on “One Simple Change: Practice Gratitude”

  1. Pingback: One Simple Change: Connect to Nature | Healthy Green Kitchen
  2. Beautifully said, Winnie. Life here has been a bit stressful lately, and I too found myself gratituding my way out of it. Thank you for expressing the thought so eloquently. I also love Zen Habits.

  3. gratitude is KEY! Whether or not you are grateful for the good things in your life, and even the difficult things, affects the way you see everything and interact with the world around you.

  4. Practicing gratitude should be second nature to us all and we all need to do it several times a day. I totally agree that you should be grateful for the positive things in your life but I also firmly believe that you should also be grateful for the negative that occurs. Within the negative, something always good emerges if you are open to recognizing it. Adversity builds strength of character, those who have suffered fully understand the meaning of compassion and are able to extend compassion to others. The old adage *for every cloud there is a silver lining* is true but we must travel through the clouds first.
    One thing that I am grateful for is your blog, your wonderful series *One Simple Change* and your willingness to share so openly with your readers.

  5. I could not agree more, Winnie. Gratitude is essential to good health and happy living. This became abundantly clear to me a few years ago through the death of a dear friend – she was grateful and happy for all she had in her life right up to her last moments. This was an incredible gift she gave to me and to others – practicing gratitude no matter what is happening in your life. Thank you for all you are sharing here. I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day.

  6. I completely agree – when we focus on what we don’t have, we miss out on so much. Life is short; we can choose to embrace our blessings or embrace what’s missing. I love that quote – thanks for sharing!

  7. WInnie, you know I’m guilty of being the biggest cynic in the world. But, it just feels good to acknowledge the good people in my life. And thanks for turning me onto Zen Habits. I think Shauna tweeted about them the other day, too!
    Thank you, Winnie…love you!


  8. Sometimes it takes a risky situation to make me appreciate all the goodness in my life. I need to practice feeling grateful on a daily basis.

  9. Gratitude does have a way of bringing peace of mind to me. Your writing is captivating, Winnie and I am so glad that you have decided to do these posts. Sometimes it is nice to take a break from the food to focus on just plain life. You are very inspirational and this post was a great reminder to take a step back every day, no matter the circumstances, and just be grateful! Have a wonderful weekend!

  10. Winnie, I am SO HAPPY that our paths crossed in this most amazing way! I was just telling Alan this morning how amazing it’s been to see all the offshoots that have come from making these small (yet so big!) changes in my life. I’m touched that my post inspired you in some way and yours, in turn, has inspired me. I can’t wait to check out the other sites you linked to and to start following your lovely blog.

    Wishing you the best. day. ever!



  11. Winnie-I read something recently that blew my mind. Can’t remember now where it was from, but I have been using the technique and it has really been beneficial. The idea was that it’s not enough to be grateful for the good things in our life. A true gratitude practice involves being grateful for all of the bad stuff, too. I was pretty skeptical at first, but when the inevitable bad stuff happened this week, I immediately started to think about whether or not I could be grateful for those things. So when I was sitting in the dentist’s chair having half of my tooth drilled off (got my first crown this week, yipee!), I was thinking about being grateful for being there–that I have the time and resources and access to good dental care–and I immediately felt peaceful. I could go on and on with other examples, but you get the idea. It was wonderful, and I’m going to continue with this forever, I’m going to guess.

  12. I have been loving all of your “Simple Change” posts, and this one is especially close to home for me: Gratitude is the only thing that can keep goodness coming to you in your life. You need to be open and humble, and to accept the gifts life hands out in order to keep receiving them.

    Thank you for keeping this series going.

  13. You are so very, very right! And I love the observation that happiness and health are improved when practicing gratitude regularly. A few years ago I decided that there were three really big things missing in the world. Respect, grace, and gratitude. Somehow having respect for others, whether an opinion or a borrowed garden rake, has always been very natural for me. I know I can thank my mom and dad for that. The gratitude, however, is something I was missing. Not necessarily that I wasn’t grateful, but I didn’t express my gratitude and let others know how much I appreciated them – or their garden rake. I had forgotten how important telling my own family how grateful and blessed I was to have them in my life. And then I made one simple change. I know that one change has enhanced MY life probably even more than theirs. I am happier and healthier than I have been in years! I’m still working on the grace. . . .