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7 Exercises to Foster Gratitude

I share this exercise around this time of year because regardless of the historical nature of this upcoming holiday and what it is or what it isn’t, and what it actually represents and what it doesn’t, it is a time of year that we all tap into gratitude of the people, places and things in our lives. And sometimes we withhold the amount of love that we have for people because of things like pride and ego. And you know, I did this talk in the morning and I actually got pretty emotional and I feel it coming again. As you guys know, my brother passed away earlier this year and I would do anything to go back to April 9th of 2023 and write a letter like that to my brother and to be able to read it to him. I really would.


1. Gratitude Flush

The first one is something called a Gratitude Flush. What a gratitude flush is, you sit down with a pen and paper and you set an alarm for like 3 – 5 minutes and it’s a stream of consciousness focused on gratitude. You can just write anything and everything that you’re grateful for that’s in your life, or also grateful for that is not in your life. And you can just freestyle it. There is no right, there is no wrong, and after two minutes, when you get in that third minute, the fourth minute, the fifth minute, you’ll start to realize how creative we can be when we actually explore to find things we’re grateful for. And it just kind of flushes our system out and it makes the unknown known, or makes unconscious conscious, or makes the things we don’t pay attention to appear in front of us, and that’s a very powerful thing. So a gratitude flush is a really quick and easy way to be able to kind of flood your system with gratitude. And sometimes if it’s hard or you don’t want to do it, that’s exactly the time you have to do it, because you might start off slow but you’ll start to gain some momentum to it. 


2. Gratitude Memo

The next one we have here is called the Gratitude Memo. Now what a gratitude memo is, is you can either use like a cell phone and a group chat so you can include other people in your life and you can write things that you’re grateful for. For example, let’s say there’s five of you and you write three things that you’re each grateful for, and you put in a group text the next day. When you share your three you can’t repeat any of the ones you did before, and the day after that, you can’t repeat the day after, that you can’t repeat in the process. As it goes on for a course of a month you realize “Oh my gosh, look at all these things I’m coming up with.” Or you can leave a voice note like me – just like a one minute thing of things you’re grateful for and you share it to the group, and then they share it back and it creates this experience of abundance and love and warmth. So gratitude memo is a nice way plus when there’s other people involved it helps us stay accountable for the days that we don’t want to tap into gratitude. When two or three or four people are sending you gratitude stuff and they’re like, “Hey, where are yours or you haven’t sent one yesterday. Send us what you’re grateful for,” the accountability piece really helps.


3. Gratitude Thing

So the next one I have is called a Gratitude Thing. This one’s more on the meditative state. So you pick one person, place, thing, object, situation, and that becomes your primary focus for gratitude for that day. So anytime your mind goes somewhere else you come back to that thing, the singular thing that you’re grateful for and it’s kind of just like a mantra. It’s kind of just like a reset. It’s kind of like a way to reshift focus back into that one thing and it’s a very powerful way, because we’re able to, no matter how distracted we are, regain focus. It’s also very powerful because it’s a form of distraction from all of that stuff in a healthy distraction, because as we learned today in the earlier videos and the talks that the grasping onto gratitude improves our mental health and our mental well-being. And it’s just a very nice easy way to do it.


4. Gratitude Letter

The next one is the Gratitude Letter. So you grab a pen and paper, you write a letter to the person who’s been most influential to you in your life, you write to that person why they’ve been influential, how they’ve helped you, and kind of what your whole total experience about having that human in your world is like. You write that letter, you either send off the letter, you call that person, you read that letter. And if they’ve passed away you write it and go by the ocean, or go in a park under a tree, or go somewhere peaceful in front of a little garden, and just kind of be with them. A gratitude letter is powerful. It’s a tool that I hope most of you pick up after this talk.


5. Gratitude Quickie

The next one’s a Gratitude Quickie. Sorry for the name but pretty much what a gratitude quickie is, is a very quick shift in perspective. For example, people that have problems with alcohol and drugs, one thing they do is they don’t want to forget their last drink or where their drug addiction led them to. So as soon as life gets difficult they go quickly back into that moment. Anytime you want to quit, remember why you started right? Or for me for example, someone says, “Hey Parham, are you having a good day? How are you doing today?” I’m like, “Oh it’s a good day. It’s a better day because I believe today we only have good days and better days.” A bad day is when you close your eyes and take a walk down memory lane to the time you got that phone call you didn’t want to get, to the time that you were really struggling with trauma, with addictions, with instability in your life – those are all bad days. If today you’re not dealing with that stuff it’s either good or better. That’s a quick shift in perspective, a quick shift in perspective.


6. Gratitude Jar

The next one I have is a Gratitude Jar. You grab a jar, any type of jar that you can see through. A glass jar would work, a little plastic box would work. And you just write down a few things on little Post-it pieces of paper, what you’re grateful for, you throw it in the jar and just leave it. Over the course of about a month the jar starts to fill up and it’s a nice visual cue and a visual reminder of the fullness an abundance in your life even if you’re not paying attention to it. Some days when you’re really struggling you go and you grab the jar and you grab what’s inside of it and you read it and you’re like, “Okay man, like perspective, perspective, perspective.” So the gratitude jar is pretty important.


7. Gratitude Rock

And the very last one is a Gratitude Rock. Gratitude object is something you put in your pocket and every time you grab something from your pocket – you grab your keys, you grab your phone, every time you feel it, it’s a reminder to express your gratitude. If you’re at work somewhere you put it on your workstation, or put it hanging from your rearview mirror in your car – it’s just the visual cues are good for human beings because we have these things called built-in forgetters. We forget the little things in life. 


And here’s the thing my friends, things in life that are easy to do are also easy not to do. Everything I just shared with you is so freaking easy, that means it’s easy not to do as well. So the choice is yours. How do you want to experience gratitude in your life? What’s the benefit of it to you and for you? I don’t really know but I do know this. That this upcoming week is a holiday – it’s a holiday that’s usually rooted with loved ones and people spending time with each other. So do me a favor and as much as you love the food on the table don’t make it about the food on the table this upcoming holiday. Make it about the people sitting around the table. Make sure you take a few minutes to share to them and express the gratitude you have for them and who they have been in your life. Make sure that you let them know how much you appreciate them. Make sure that it’s sincere, genuine and authentic. Make sure that it’s from the heart and allow them to just kind of marinate and soak into that experience. Because remember, not only is it going to make their world and make them feel good it’s going to make yourself feel good potentially up to 19% Improvement in your mental health.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.