In my first post about gratitude, Gratitude is Sexy, I talked about a few of the many benefits practicing gratitude. Now, we’re going to put it all into action with a four-week gratitude challenge!
The purpose of this challenge is twofold – to get into the habit of practicing daily gratitude and to discover which practices suit you personally. Each week will have a new theme and hopefully by the end, you will have tried out at least a couple practices that you would like to continue in your everyday life.
If you know that you process thoughts through writing, weeks one and two may appeal to you. If you’re an external processor, you may enjoy weeks two and four. If getting outdoors refreshes and rejuvenates you, you’ll love week three.
Regardless of which weeks interest you before beginning this challenge, I urge you complete the whole challenge – you might learn something new about yourself!
I’m going to be completing this challenge right alongside you and I’d love to hear how you’re doing along the way. Comment below to keep in touch!
Before You Begin…
I would recommend taking a moment to jot down the answers to the following questions so that you can reflect on your experience at the end of the four weeks and really see how you’ve changed.
- How have you been feeling (both physically and emotionally) lately?
- What areas of life are causing you stress?
- How are you feeling about starting this challenge? (Excited, anxious, unsure?)
- What do you hope to gain by completing the gratitude challenge?
Week One – Gratitude Journal
Choose a journal at the beginning of the week and make sure it’s one you love. If you’re in the market for a new journal, I’d recommend this simple classic notebook, this chic marble and gold notebook, or this pretty floral watercolor journal.
Take the prompts below and make them your own – if you want to write one sentence, then write one sentence; if you want to write three pages, do it!
- Day 1: Write about three things that you usually take for granted but are actually very grateful for.
- Day 2: Describe an experience from your past that positively influenced you and shaped you into the person you are today.
- Day 3: Write about what you are thankful for in nature.
- Day 4: Write about your favorite place to visit.
- Day 5: List three things you love about yourself.
- Day 6: Reflect on and write about what you have now that didn’t have 5, 10, 15 years ago (Think of people, possessions, opportunities, etc.)
- Day 7: List three things that have made you smile this week.
Week Two – Gratitude Letters and Visits
This week is all about verbally expressing to the important people in our lives that we are grateful for them. Write a letter or pay a visit to each of these people and sincerely thank them for their part in your life.
Be specific and intentional about the words you use. Think of the times they have come through for you. Reflect on specific attributes you are thankful for. Be sincere.
If the person is unreachable for one reason or another, it is still a good practice to write out a letter as if they were able to receive it.
- Day 8: Your spouse or significant other
- Day 9: Your best friend
- Day 10: Your parents
- Day 11: A teacher or mentor from your past
- Day 12: A coworker or someone that has helped you develop professionally
- Day 13: Someone who had a positive influence on you as a child.
- Day 14: Someone you are grateful for this week (a person who went out of their way to help you, someone you had a great conversation with, etc.)
If you want to keep this going, consider reaching out to those outside of your everyday realm of influence. Write a letter to an organization or company you’re thankful for. Thank a police officer, firefighter, nurse/doctor, military member, or teacher for the work they do.
Always be on the lookout for people you can express gratitude to, it will help you both have a better day!
Week Three – Gratitude Walk
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
It can sometimes be hard to think of all of the things we are grateful for if we are feeling cooped up. Taking a walk allows our thoughts and emotions to flow freely, opening us up to optimism and reflection.
This week we’re going to take a walk everyday. It doesn’t have to be long, even 10-15 minutes is a great start. You’ll benefit from this exercise most if you are able to walk and reflect by yourself.
As you walk, think about the positive people and experiences you have had in life (past and present). Allow yourself to think and feel and be grateful.
- Day 15: Take a walk in your neighborhood. Ponder what you love about the place you live.
- Day 16: Bring your gratitude journal along today. During your walk, find a place to stop and jot down 10 things your thankful for.
- Day 17: Find somewhere to walk alone and verbalize out loud three (or more) things you are grateful for.
- Day 18: As you walk, be grateful that you have the ability to walk. Be thankful for all of the hard things your body has brought you though.
- Day 19: During your walk, pick up a stone and put it in your pocket. From now on every time you see or touch the stone, think of something you’re grateful for.
- Day 20: Notice beauty in your walk today, whether it’s a simple wildflower or the vastness of the sky above.
- Day 21: Before you begin your walk, practice steady breathing by inhaling through your nose for four counts, holding your breath for 7 counts, and exhaling through your mouth for eight counts. This will put you in a relaxed state to begin your gratitude walk.
Walking by itself can give you more energy, reduce stress, and keep your heart healthy. Combined with gratitude, it’s a recipe for well-being! You can learn more about the benefits of walking in this article by Real Simple.
Week Four – Living Gratefully
It’s easy to go about life focusing on negative people, circumstances and experiences. All to often we think about the things we don’t have. This week we’re going to be intentional about eliminating the thoughts and speech that bring us down and hone in on the good in this world.
- Day 22: Do not complain, criticize, or gossip all day
- Day 23: If you encounter someone or something that usually prompts negative thoughts in your mind, reject those thoughts and find something positive about that person or thing.
- Day 24: Pay sincere compliments to two people.
- Day 25: Verbally express appreciation throughout the day (such as
- Day 26: Avoid social media platforms, websites, music, movies, TV shows, etc. that evoke negative feelings such as jealousy, anger, discontentment, and discord.
- Day 27: Spend some uninterrupted, distraction free time with your family.
- Day 28: Find a charity, organization, or cause that is doing good work in the world and find out how you can support them with the time, resources, and money you have.
And that’s it! My hope is that through this challenge, you found at least a few gratitude practices that you find enjoyable and will continue.
The Final Challenge
The best part of this whole experience is reading what you wrote before the challenge and noticing how you have changed over the past four weeks.
- Do you find your physical and/or emotional health has improved?
- Are you able to change your perspective on the things that were causing you stress a month ago?
- Did you gain what you hoped to by completing this challenge?
- Are you glad you did it?
- What practices do you hope to continue?
Again, I would love to hear your feedback and your experience with this challenge! Comment below and I’ll be sure to respond 🙂