Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude

Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude
By Jerry Posner

Thanksgiving, 2012

Happiness, well-being, resilience, and positive states of brain functioning have been strongly linked to the feelings and expression of gratitude.  I don’t think we need too much research here – seems like obvious common sense to me.

But “common sense” without practice isn’t very practical … or powerful!

“Practicing” strongly suggests “doing something” – not just once or twice, but repeatedly.  Eventually making skills or habits — habits of behavior, habits of thinking, habits of feeling, interpretation, perception, etc.

You’ve heard the cliché “practice makes perfect.”  Well, practice doesn’t make perfect … practice makes habits!  Repeatedly practice something the “wrong” way, and you get very good at doing something wrong!  For example, you might know some folks who are absolute masters of negative thinking … self-pity … self-sabotage …

So, with regard to gratitude, what to practice?

1.    FEELING GRATEFUL for the good things, the love, the laughs, the lessons, the people, the opportunities, the help, the stuff, the miracles, the food, the music, the technology, etc.
2.   EXPRESSING GRATITUDE for the good things, the love, the laughs, the lessons, the people, the opportunities, the help,   the stuff, the miracles, the food, the music, the technology, etc.

How do you FEEL when you feel grateful?
Happy? Peaceful? Blessed? Centered? Generous? Secure? Calm?

Thinking and expressing thankful thoughts, and amplifying feelings of gratitude, can reduce stress … improve relationships … and minimize pettiness!  Beginning a dinner or business meeting by going around the table and having everyone mention something they’re grateful for or happy about, can have significant positive impact.

You just can’t lose with gratitude!

Sincerely thank your customers, coworkers, friends, and family. Thank your vendors, suppliers, supporters and fans! Be generous with your gratitude.  Do it today.  Do it all year round!

Write yourself some gratitude-oriented “focus phrases” (reminders) on cards and sticky-notes, and put them where you’ll see them every day.  We NEED reminders!  We’re human.  We forget!  We get distracted!

For example:

Here’s an interesting and potentially enlightening “grati-tool” –- make a list of 10 people who have helped you get to where you are right now — 10 people you’re grateful for.  10 people who helped you succeed, taught you important lessons, loved you.  We might be reminded of that kind childhood neighbor, or high school guidance counselor whose caring changed the course of our life.

When we remember how kind and generous people have been in our lives, we might be inspired to pass it on, or “pay it forward.”  We might even reclaim some positive memories of our personal history that we’d forgotten.  And … it just might make us feel happier!

Revisit your list from time to time (weekly, perhaps), and keep adding to it.

So, thank the people! Show some appreciation for them. Send thank-you notes. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Another way to practice the practical power of gratitude is a one-minute stress-buster — THE GRATITUDE BREAK. First, select something specific about your life that you are truly, deeply thankful for (person, condition, or thing). Something or someone who you feel genuinely happy about. Then … close your eyes (not while you’re driving, please) and spend just one minute thinking about, and vividly imagining (if you can), that person, condition or thing. FEEL the gratitude and happiness as you visualize!

When your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to the gratitude-trigger.  You might enjoy making a mental collage or movie of several gratitude-triggers at once. For example, I might visualize my wife … holding an iPad in one hand … petting the dogs with the other hand … while ukuleles orbit the whole scene — all things that make me smile and that I’m grateful for!

Try a gratitude break once a day, and see what happens! Twice a day would be a worthy experiment.

A favorite “grati-tool” that gets a huge amount of press is THE GRATITUDE JOURNAL (a.k.a. “Gratitude Diary” or “Five Good Things”). Here’s what to do: every day (or most days), write down five things you are grateful for. They can be deep … shallow … serious … funny … spiritual … material. Just list five things you’re sincerely grateful for on paper or computer. Not in your head. Write them down or type them in.

Your mileage may vary!  People who write a daily gratitude journal often report improved relationships, less stress, more patience, better decision-making, feeling more secure … and more happiness!  Some studies suggest that even a weekly visit with the Gratitude Journal can yield positive results.

During challenging times, regular focus on gratitude can restore much-needed balance. Not to deny that there might be some adversity or challenges, but to remember that there are wonderful things and opportunities available as well.

Practice the practical power of gratitude, and make every day, a day of thanks-giving.
So many benefits … so small a cost!


Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude and Practicing the Practical Power of Appreciation are positive programs presented by Jerry Posner for businesses, organizations, conferences and groups.  For booking information, e-mail


3 responses to this post.

  1. Enjoy the day, one day at a time … Well said!


  2. […] Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude ( […]


  3. […] Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude | JerryPosner’s Blog – Happiness and other positive states have been strongly linked to the feelings and expression of gratitude. […]


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