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5 Ways to Cultivate a Spirit of Gratitude: Living Gratitude Series

Today I welcome ,  Laurel Regan who I connected with over two years ago and have been in touch since. Her writing, her photography, her various art and craft projects – are all testament to Laurel’s creativity, which I admire very much. I’m also glad to be part of The Artist’s Way Facebook Group Laurel has created.

Laurel lives in Ontario, Canada and blogs at Alphabet Salad. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

5 Ways To Cultivate A Spirit Of Gratitude is part of the Living Gratitude Series 


A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. (Cicero)

We live in a world where the pursuit of more, different, and better has become a number one priority. It’s all too easy to get caught up in that mindset, lose focus, and quickly become dissatisfied with our lot in life. I’ve certainly been there and done that… but I am also learning that practicing gratitude is the first step toward restoring balance, contentment, and joy to my life.

So how do you cultivate a spirit of gratitude?

Count your blessings.

This might seem like an obvious first step, but think about it for a moment.

How often do we take what we might think of as the “little things” for granted – a comfortable bed, perhaps, or access to fresh and clean water, plenty of food, and a warm and dry home – and forget just how very, very fortunate and blessed we are to have them?

How often does an attitude of entitlement creep in, convincing us that these things are somehow our due?

I know that I have at times been guilty as charged.

Cultivate a spirit of gratitude… by counting all of your blessings, whatever they include.

Practice gratitude in difficult times.

I have found that it can be a challenge to practice gratitude when I’m in the midst of an undesirable or unsatisfying situation, but this is perhaps the most important time in which to do so.

One example that always comes back to me is from a friend who, when going through a particularly difficult time financially and struggling to pay her utility bills, still cultivated a spirit of gratitude by reminding herself what those bills represented – warmth, light, contact with the outside world – and being thankful for having access to each of those things. When I heard her story it really resonated with me, and I try to remember this example when I’m struggling to live in a spirit of gratitude.

Cultivate a spirit of gratitude… by looking for the silver lining, a different viewpoint, the flip side of the coin.

Be intentional – write it down!

Whether it’s done on paper or a computer screen, a transformation takes place when thoughts, feelings, and ideas are made concrete by being translated into words.

As part of counting your blessings and practicing gratitude in difficult times, find a way to put your thoughts into words by whatever means suits you best. You don’t have to be a writer, and it doesn’t have to be fancy or eloquent – a simple bulleted list is just fine. You might:

  • Write them down in your datebook or calendar at the end of each day.
  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • Write a poem.
  • Send them in a letter to a friend.
  • Turn them into a blog post.

Cultivate a spirit of gratitude… by being intentional about putting your thoughts into writing.

Make practicing gratitude a habit.

Our everyday lives are peppered with habits that are part of our daily routine and have become a natural extension of who we are and how we choose to live our lives.

Gratitude needs to become one of those habits.

A few weeks ago I started a weekly tradition: every Sunday I would take some time to put item 3 into practice – write down a list of things for which I was grateful at that moment in time – then I would turn my list into a blog post and invite others to share their own gratitude lists, either as a comment or a link to a post. Very shortly after starting this practice of intentionally focusing on gratitude at a specific time each week, I noticed the attitude starting to spill over into the rest of the week. The more I practiced gratitude, the more I found it becoming a habit, with grateful thoughts naturally coming to mind in the midst of all sorts of situations, good and bad.

Cultivate a spirit of gratitude… by making it a habit.

Sun and Cirrus Clouds --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Share with others.

Joy has a way of spreading when, as a natural extension of acknowledging and expressing gratitude for our blessings, we take things another step and extend part of those blessings to others.

  • Grateful for being in a wonderful mood? Share it by spreading smiles and cheerfulness.
  • Grateful for a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator? Share it by inviting someone over for a meal.
  • Grateful for a special person in your life? Share it by letting them know how you feel.
  • Grateful for your morning coffee? Share it by buying one for the next person in line.

How do you cultivate a spirit of gratitude in your life? Please share!


  1. G Angela G Angela March 26, 2015

    Your post is inspiring, you have presented it so well and in simple manner, I practice gratitude daily, before I go to bed, I recall and thank the almighty and all those things that has made a difference, also I am learning to make a habit for always being in a thankful state of mind… thanks Laurel and Corinne for sharing !!
    G Angela recently posted..My Gratitude List for March, 2015My Profile

  2. […] about things she is grateful for. This Monday she wrote ‘50 Shades of Grateful‘! Laurel Regan too writes a weekly post called Today’s Gratitude List Linkup. In the recent past, I’ve […]

  3. […] I’m linking into Laurel Regan’s Today’s Gratitude List Linkup No.39. I love the way Laurel faithfully focuses on gratitude – a subject close to my heart as well. You might recall that Laurel wrote a post here too as part of my Living Gratitude series last year – 5 Ways To Cultivate A Spirit of Gratitude.  […]

  4. Pratibha Pratibha January 31, 2014

    I started maintaining a gratitude book just this year. When I started it, I can recollect the beautiful things that have happened to me and on one of the awful days, I pick a page and read what made me happy, it cheers me up.
    I listed all that I could remember from last year and I was amazed at how the happy moments were far higher than the sad ones!
    Pratibha recently posted..My word of the year – FaithMy Profile

  5. Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 12, 2013

    Thank you for a very meaningful post, Laurel!
    Just an hour back, I read a beautiful quote: “Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.”
    Proactive Indian recently posted..‘A**hole’ or ‘Idiot’?My Profile

  6. Sabrina Sabrina November 12, 2013

    Being worried or remorseful means we’ve allowed our minds to take up residence in either the future or the past. Purposefully practicing gratitude forces us to be in the now. Great post!
    Sabrina recently posted..Day 10 – The Bucket List (First Pass)My Profile

  7. Jeevan Jacob John Jeevan Jacob John November 12, 2013

    Well, I am grateful for what I have, but I don’t particularly cultivate a spirit of gratitude (usually when I think about those things, I end up thinking about people who are unfortunate, and discussing why they are like that or why their condition isn’t already improving, given that we – as a species or as a society – have the ability to improve their lives).

    I suppose it is a good habit to develop. I do keep a journal, so developing a writing habit (about the things I am grateful for) won’t be much of a problem.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing, Laurel 🙂

  8. Aditi Aditi November 11, 2013

    Beautiful post and I too try and consciously practice gratitude…though don’t journal it often. I think a weekly habit is a great idea.
    Laurel, the example of your friend and the idea of changing your viewpoint in difficult times, resonated with me!! At the time of the month when bills need to be paid and I see my salary vanishing as soon as it comes in to pay EMIs, I say ‘Thank you God. Please keep these payments coming and let me just have enough to be happy”
    Aditi recently posted..Living with “A”My Profile

  9. Shilpa Garg Shilpa Garg November 11, 2013

    While it is good to be grateful in good times, gratitude can help us cope with hard times too. I am starting my Gratitude Journal today! Thank you for the inspiration, Laurel! 🙂
    Shilpa Garg recently posted..Catch-22My Profile

  10. richa singh richa singh November 11, 2013

    Cicero’s quote quite sums it up as to what gratitude is for life. How do I practice it? I look around and see how many people are happy to see me happy. True story. It feels me with an immense sense of gratitude to realise that my life means so much to others. And in some cases like blogging to people who have never even met me. What else would a person need?
    richa singh recently posted..Why I travel?My Profile

  11. Debbie Debbie November 11, 2013

    Hi Laurel;
    Great post! Sometimes we’re so caught up in our various miseries, we forget to be grateful and that’s when it’s most important.
    Debbie recently posted..GREEK ODYSSEY – PART IIIMy Profile

  12. Jairam Mohan Jairam Mohan November 11, 2013

    This was truly such a beautiful and touching post. Loved how you highlighted the simple ways of showing our gratitude in everyday life 😀
    Jairam Mohan recently posted..The omnipresent truthMy Profile

  13. Kathy Kathy November 11, 2013

    This is so inspiring and sounds like a recipe for a happy, content life.
    Kathy recently posted..Goddess of MoneyMy Profile

  14. Rekha Rekha November 11, 2013

    Being grateful indeed helps one enjoy life more, be more positive and others reciprocate the same. A beautiful article. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
    Rekha recently posted..Our Platinum Day of LoveMy Profile

  15. Sheethal Sheethal November 10, 2013

    Sharing doubles your happiness. I used to write down my gratitude list at the end of every month in my blog before…. but when dark days started showing up I just felt like ignoring the good things too.

    Very meaningful and beautiful post. 🙂

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