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a journal and gratitude jar filled with slips of paper

Thankfulness may come more naturally during the holidays, but gratitude doesn’t need to be saved for one special occasion or season.

Consider starting this year off by establishing an intentional gratitude practice to regularly acknowledge the people, places, and moments that make your life meaningful. In doing so, you may find yourself feeling generally happier and perhaps better equipped to rebound from hard times in the months ahead.

These four ideas are some of our favorite ways to cultivate and express appreciation all year long.

  1. Write Letters: In a world where so much communication is digital, taking the time to write and mail a physical message is worth a thousand emoji. Spread your gratitude far and wide by sending a letter each month to someone in your life. (For tips on writing gratitude letters, see “Gratitude Exercise“.)
  2. Meditate: Cultivating a deeper awareness of your sense of appreciation is a powerful way to promote happiness, connect with your core values, and reduce stress and anxiety. If you’re new to meditation, check out our tips for starting a daily practice at “How to Begin a Daily Meditation Practice“.
  3. Keep a Journal: Research suggests that maintaining a gratitude journal can ease anxiety and boost your mood. If long-form writing isn’t your thing, you can draw, create collages, or simply jot down meaningful words or phrases. (See “How to Keep a Gratitude Journal” to learn more.)
  4. Fill a Jar: It’s like a swear jar, but instead of collecting fines for verbal slip-ups, a gratitude jar captures memorable moments, experiences, and events. You can record these on slips of paper or toss in mementos. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or depleted, reach into the jar and read a note or two.

This article originally appeared as “Starting a Yearlong Gratitude Practice” in the January/February 2022 issue of Experience Life.

Profile pic of Molly Tynjala
Molly Tynjala

Molly Tynjala is an Experience Life assistant editor.

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