Thanksgiving is Once a Year But Gratitude Should Be a Daily Practice

“You should never go to bed at night without being thankful and celebrating at least one thing in your life.” - Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith

Ever since I heard those words in March 2011 I’ve had an alarm programmed in my phone that goes off at 10pm every night that reads “Be Thankful and Celebrate One Thing.” All of my friends know about my gratitude alarm, and I make sure that everyone around me at 10pm, no matter where I am, takes a moment to be grateful for something in their life.

The benefits of a gratitude practice come from the consistency of it (as with just about everything). From the moment I heard Rev. Michael say the quote above, I knew I wanted to incorporate that into my life, and I immediately grabbed my brain’s external hard drive, aka my phone, and programmed an alarm that would repeat daily. If I didn’t do that I knew I would forget about it in just a few minutes.

If you really want to feel the benefits of a gratitude practice make sure that you take the time to FEEL the sensations associated with gratitude when you are being thankful. Don’t just say it. FEEL IT.

Try it right now. Think of something for which you can be truly grateful. It doesn’t have to be a grand idea. You can be grateful that you can breathe or that you have clothes to wear. You can be grateful you have access to clean water or that you have a bed to sleep on. Think of something to focus on.

Now that you have a focus, take time to let it sink in how grateful you are for it. Consider how your life would be without it. Think about other people in the world that don’t have it and how lucky and blessed you are to have it. Let the feelings arise from within so that you can FEEL grateful.

Once you get the feeling, you’re done. That’s it… for today.

The key is to do it again tomorrow… and the next day… and the day after that. That is where the gratitude alarm comes into play to help us keep up the practice. Consistency is key!

Pick a time of the day when you will be able to focus on gratitude. I chose 10pm initially because that’s when I was going to bed, and so I would do as the last thing before falling asleep. That’s not always the case now but it has been a part of my life for so long at that time that there’s no need for me to change it. Choose a time that works for you and program your alarm now.

Seriously, do it now. Don’t wait. Don’t say you’ll get to it later. It takes less than a minute. DO IT! You’ll thank me later (probably at the time you set in your alarm now).

Type a message to yourself in the alarm so that you know why the alarm is going off. Mine literally says “Be Thankful and Celebrate One Thing,” and that’s all I need. Customize yours to fit you.

Once you have it programmed, please comment below and let me know what time you set yours for. Let’s spread the idea of the gratitude alarm around the world so more people can enjoy their lives and realize how much we have to be grateful for.

For those of you that are interested in learning more about the benefits of a gratitude practice, here are some links to research articles on gratitude.

The effects of gratitude expression on neural activity.

The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep.

Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.

"Gratitude is with me all the time": how gratitude relates to wisdom.

Feeling Thanks and Saying Thanks: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining If and How Socially Oriented Gratitude Journals Work.