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10 ways to practice gratitude (and how it can change your life)

  • February 9, 2018 5:41 PM EST

    So often at the beginning of the year we focus on what we want to change about ourselves or lives.  However, in doing so we often forget to acknowledge the many amazing things that we already have going for us, the obstacles we have overcome, or the milestones that we have achieved.  Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions that we can practice every day.  It over-rides all other negative emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, or envy.  If we can truly embody gratitude, we can overcome the difficult emotions that arise when we criticize ourselves or our lives for not being “better”.   

    Oprah Winfrey has been quoted as saying “Be thankful for what you have and you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you do not have, you will never have enough.”  As we move further into 2018, I think it is important to consider that which is already in our lives (and ourselves) for which we can be grateful.  I urge everyone to adopt some sort of gratitude practice and am listing ten easy ways to do this:

    1. Sit around the dinner table with family or friends and take a moment for everyone to share something they are grateful for.
    2. Make a gratitude jar that you add things that you are grateful for (on pieces of paper) throughout the year.
    3. Keep a gratitude journal that you write in to list the thing(s) that you are most grateful for each day.
    4. Write a weekly note to someone each week telling them why you appreciate them.
    5. Say thank you to your partner or roommate for the mundane tasks that they do around the house.
    6. Write a thank you card to someone to acknowledge something that they have done for you.
    7. Call someone to tell them you were thinking about them and why you are grateful to have them in your life.
    8. Acknowledge someone at work for something they do well. 
    9. Make a collage of pictures of things that you are most grateful for.
    10. Sincerely thank a service person (e.g., barista at your favorite coffee shop) for serving you.

    Make an effort to practice gratitude every day and see how your life changes, and the next time you hear a colleague, friend, or family member expressing something negative, encourage them to do the same!

    Marie K. Holowaychuk, DVM, DACVECC is a small animal emergency and critical care specialist and certified yoga and meditation teacher who has a vested interest in the health and well-being of veterinary professionals.  She organizes Veterinary Wellness Workshops & Retreats for veterinarians, technicians, and other veterinary team members.  To sign up for newsletters containing information regarding these events and veterinary wellness topics, please click here.  More information can be found at