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Gratitude Exercises

Gratitude means appreciating the good things in your life, no matter how big or small. Making the practice of gratitude a regular part of your day can build happiness, self-esteem, and provide other health benefits.

The Gratitude Exercises worksheet summarizes five activities to help clients start practicing gratitude. Exercises include journaling, taking a mindfulness walk, writing a gratitude letter, and more. After discussing the rationale and benefits of gratitude, this handout serves as a convenient menu of techniques.

Although these exercises are simple to learn and practice, the challenge comes from consistency. Spend time in session discussing each exercise and creating a plan for their use. Ideally, establish a schedule or routine for daily gratitude practice (e.g., journaling every night before bed).

Tip: Consistent and thoughtful practice is important for gratitude exercises to be effective. Rushing through exercises to “get them done” does not work. The purpose of each activity is to genuinely reflect on feelings of gratitude for several minutes every day.

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1. Lambert, N. M., Graham, S. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2009). A prototype analysis of gratitude: Varieties of gratitude experiences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(9), 1193-1207.

2. Rash, J. A., Matsuba, M. K., & Prkachin, K. M. (2011). Gratitude and well‐being: Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention?. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being, 3(3), 350-369.

3. Watkins, P. C., Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2004). Gratitude and subjective well-being.

4. Wilson, J. T. (2016). Brightening the mind: The impact of practicing gratitude on focus and resilience in learning. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 16(4), 1-13.

5. Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical psychology review, 30(7), 890-905.

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