8 Unexpected Ways To Practice Gratitude That Aren't Journaling 

mbg Contributor By Tanya Carroll Richardson
mbg Contributor
Tanya Carroll Richardson is a professional intuitive and spiritual author who is passionate about angels, beauty, and nature. She has been in the NYC publishing world as a writer and editor for over 15 years.

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Our society can be very goal-oriented and future-focused, and practicing gratitude adds some much-needed balance. It's a powerful appreciation of what is already here, right now, helping to ground you in the moment. To time with National Gratitude Month, here are some out-of-the-box ways to think about and kick-start your gratitude practice:

1. Do a gratitude-themed ritual.

We hear a lot about how gratitude makes us happier, more humble and gracious, and even kinder to ourselves and others. As a professional intuitive who helps clients all over the world, I want to emphasize that gratitude is also one of the most magical ingredients in the universe. It changes your vibration and energy as well as the energy of what comes to you in the form of things, people, and opportunities. Play with this and see for yourself! If you like to do new or full moon rituals, or make nature art mandalas, or work with prayer beads like malas or rosaries, ground your ritual in gratitude for better manifestation results. Rituals are just one way to connect to your spiritual guides—find out more in my latest book, Angel Intuition.

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2. Take a gratitude walk to help yourself process painful experiences and emotions. 

Remember that you can feel grateful at the same time your heart is broken. (For example, you can be grateful for the good friend who lets you cry on her shoulder after your romantic partner ends the relationship or a big project falls through in your career.) Furthermore, having a practical gratitude practice—like taking a gratitude walk, where you mindfully focus on what you're grateful for as you stroll through your neighborhood or a park—gives your spirit the nourishment and stamina to sustain itself during challenging experiences. Gratitude also gives you the strength and resilience to look at and process some of the less fun emotions you may be experiencing. Light exercise—like a gratitude walk—helps move stuck energy and emotions through your system.

3. Shift the focus off of yourself by saying a blessing for someone else. 

If you're down and having trouble connecting to a feeling of genuine gratitude, remember how much you mean to others, whether it's friends or family, clients, or anyone you are of service to. Ask people you love what they are grateful for, and let yourself take real pleasure in their happiness and blessings—good things can, have, and will happen to you too. Say a blessing, prayer, or intention for someone you know who is struggling or could use a little more support from the universe.

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4. Switch up the way you think about what you want. 

Often we think of things from a place of lack, which can be motivating. Like thinking, "I don't have that much savings, so I should ask for a raise, stick to a tighter budget, or start a side hustle." But being grateful for what you have does not stop you from trying for more or better. It can be even more powerful to think of things you want from a point of gratitude. In the above example, it might involve being thankful for any money that's coming in, or being thankful that you have the funds to make regular payments toward your debt. If you're looking for a romantic partner, be grateful for any love that's already in your life.

5. Create an atmosphere of gratitude. 

When a co-worker stops you at the water cooler to complain, let them vent...and even add your own frustrations! Then balance the conversation by remarking on something you are grateful for about your job or company. At home, start a ritual with roommates or family members where you state out loud something you're grateful for as you leave the house in the morning or sit down to eat. If you live alone, develop a rhythm where, for a few minutes each day, you think about what you're grateful for while you are cleaning or commuting to work on the train. 

Looking around at how other people handle challenges can help put your own situation into a larger perspective. 

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6. Look around for someone whose situation is challenging for gratitude inspiration.

It can be a humbling and empowering experience to realize that other people are doing "life" while also facing a really challenging situation with a great attitude. This happened to me over a decade ago when I was having thyroid issues, exhausted, and walking to a doctor's office feeling sorry for myself. Suddenly a man zoomed past me in a wheelchair on a packed NYC sidewalk, briefcase in his lap, looking like a million bucks in his suit and ready to take on the world. His smiling, determined image inspired me and made me realize that while I was very tired and ill, I was still very lucky to be able to walk to that doctor's appointment. Looking around at how other people handle challenges can help put your own situation into a larger perspective. 

7. Give to others to create more feelings of gratitude (and abundance). 

This is what you are really going for with gratitude: a feeling. When you feel truly, honestly grateful, there's almost nothing better in the world. Doing something generous like volunteering in your community, picking up the tab at lunch for a friend who is in between jobs, or helping a struggling family member helps others and creates these feelings of deep gratitude and contentment within you.

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8. Start small and let gratitude grow. 

In some ways, gratitude is a habit that develops and strengthens with time and practice. And gratitude is a strong force that has the ability to grow quickly with the simplest starting point, like a warm, toasty campfire on a cold night can grow from just a tiny spark. Be thankful for clean water, healthy food, and a safe place to lay your head at night, and watch your gratitude expand from there.

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