8 Simple & Inexpensive Ways To Practice Gratitude All Month Long

1. Write thank you notes.

I’m one of those people who a) loves stationery and b) loves writing notes for almost no reason. Something as small as having me over for dinner usually warrants a thank you note, and I have an arsenal of pretty pieces of stationery and pens dedicated to writing them. It is a fun, personal way to let someone know you appreciate something they did for you, or just appreciate that they exist as a person in your life. The person you send it to will be touched as hell, and happy to display your sweet little note in their house as a reminder that they are thankful for you, too.

2. Or, send thank you messages.

Not everyone is as into stationery as I am, and that’s okay. Also, not everyone is down to put a stamp on a thank you note and send it out every time they spend a special day with someone they care about. That’s totally okay too. A thank you text or email has a similar effect, but is much easier to do. It is still nice to take time out of your day to acknowledge that you are thankful for someone, and they’ll appreciate the sentiment even if they can’t display it on their mantel.

3. Keep a journal.

I forget a lot of things that happen on a daily basis — we all do. As much as I tell myself during a special moment that I’ll remember it forever, I really might not unless I leave myself some sort of memento or artifact. I used to write a list every week of all the things I felt thankful for — I know this sounds extremely corny (it totally is), but scribbling down random things that made me happy that week (ranging from something I ate for lunch, to a fun date I went on, to a special moment with my mother, to an item of clothing I loved wearing that week) was a fun, light way to de-stress. As a bonus, I’m now able to flip through that notebook and look at everything that made me happy every week for the entire year I kept the journal. I haven’t done this in a bit, but I’m really hoping to pick the habit up again, and there really is no better time than right now.

4. Take a few pictures — maybe even print them, and hang them.

The iPhone Selfie gets a lot of flak, and millennials are shit-talked a lot for constantly taking pictures and never being ~in the moment~. But history is captured through photographs, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon just because the person behind me thinks I should put down my phone and ~enjoy the moment~ (fun fact: you can enjoy a moment and take a picture of it — it is possible to do both!). Taking pictures is such a small, simple way to capture memories that are meaningful to you — memories that you otherwise probably wouldn’t be able to recall a year later if you didn’t have photo evidence to spark your memory. I love taking pictures with friends and family, and framing them around my home as little reminders that I have so many freaking awesome people in my life. Seeing the dumb little picture hanging on the wall of my boyfriend holding my dog is enough to totally turn my bad day around, and leave me feeling grateful for what I have.

5. Give back — even in small, seemingly insignificant ways.

Anything from rounding up to the next dollar when you buy something so the store will donate it to charity, to volunteering yourself to do something locally to give back to your community is great. You might feel like you don’t have the time or money to give back, but even if you have a little to give, you’ll feel better. And I promise, it’ll get you going on a good path — helping others feels good, and once you do it, you won’t want to stop.

6. Make an extra serving in the kitchen.

I love cooking and baking, especially this time of year. Something about whipping up warm, nostalgic recipes makes the holiday season feel cozier and nicer. My favorite thing to do by far while cooking or baking is to make an extra serving of whatever I’m whipping up — soup, pasta, pumpkin or banana bread, pie or cookies — and give it to someone. I’ll swing by my parents’ house with a plate of cookies, or bring a loaf of banana bread to a family I’m working with, or pack up some soup to give to my friend. It is a good way to share something you love with people you care about, and give them an unexpected (and delicious) surprise. Plus, everyone loves free food — they’ll be extremely grateful.

7. Be extremely mindful of the way you’re speaking about others.

By far, one of the easiest ways to feel like a happier person is to stop constantly talking badly about others. It is so easy to get roped into the “Ew, why is he dating her?” and “She looks like she put on a few pounds” and “His job is unimpressive and dumb” conversations, but constantly harping on negative things about people not only reflects poorly on your character, but it also makes you feel bad. I always get a yucky feeling after I gossip or shit-talk someone — especially if I know that I’m just doing it because I’m feeling salty or envious of them. We need to find balance between allowing ourselves to feel the sting of envy or jealousy, and letting those feelings take over to the point where we’re talking badly about and wishing bad things upon people who are just trying to live their freaking lives.

8. Actually take the time to compliment someone.

And not in a weird, forced, awkward way. But if you see a girl wearing an outfit that you think is cute as hell, tell them. If you read something online that you love, tell the writer. If someone in your life does something that makes you proud, tell them how amazing they are for doing it.

I’m sure you can recall at least one time in your life where someone stopped you on the street and said they loved your shoes, or acknowledged the hard work you put into a recent accomplishment — and it probably made you feel awesome. I got an email a few weeks ago from a reader who said a specific article I wrote really helped them out, and they just wanted to say thank you. It warmed my heart so much that I’m literally still riding the high.

We keep a lot of feelings of admiration in, because we don’t want to risk looking weird or vulnerable telling someone how impressive they are, but this is a small act that literally only makes all involved parties feel good. So if you have something nice to say, say it.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

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