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I think you’ll agree with me when I tell you…
Life can be challenging sometimes.
OK a lot of times!
From social media to the news, we are bombarded by negative messages all day long.
And that can lead to negative thoughts and negative beliefs about ourselves and our lives.
It’s no wonder we’re walking around with a negative mindset, complaining about every little thing.
What we also know is mental illness, like anxiety and depression, is on the rise. The latest findings revealed that 19.1% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
So what can you do to live a more positive and happier life?
The benefits of gratitude have been well documented.
From making us happier to making us more optimistic, gratitude can improve our overall health, deepen our relationships, and increase our productivity.
That’s where the 30 days of gratitude comes in!
Imagine how much your life can improve if you practiced gratitude for 30 consecutive days.
So are you ready for a 30 day gratitude challenge?
If so, then read on.
(Side note: One proven way to improve your happiness and life satisfaction is to focus on goals that truly matter. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.).
What You Will Learn
Why 30 Days Works So Well?
You might be wondering if there is something magical about 30 days.
To get started, I recommend you read this overview of the 30 Day Habit Challenge which will help you understand why 30 days works so well.
But here’s the scoop…
We know that creating a new habit can be difficult.
Whether we’re trying to change a negative
behavior, such as eliminating complaining from our lives or trying to add a positive
behavior, like keeping a gratitude journal, or starting a new exercise program,
it’s not easy. We’ve lived our lives one
way for years. How can we be expected to
change our ways?
The first way to make it easier on yourself is to focus on one new habit at a time. In this case gratitude.
But it’s not enough to focus on just one subject matter, like gratitude. There are many ways to practice gratitude as you’ll learn below. What you’ll want to do is to pick one way to express gratitude, and do it everyday for the next 30 days.
I come from a fitness background and one of the reasons people fail to reach their weight loss goals is they try to make too many changes at once. Eliminate sugar, drink water, lift weights, go for a walk, minimize processed foods, eat mindfully. The list goes on and on. And most people quit when you give them too many things to change.
So you’ll pick one specific gratitude action step to focus on.
The other reason many people fail on a new habit is because they think they have to keep the new habit forever.
Tell me I can’t have chocolate anymore for the rest of my life, and I’ll kick and scream.
But tell me to eliminate it for 30 days, and it becomes much more doable.
It’s not forever. There’s an endpoint. And when there’s a defined end in mind, we can work with that.
So that’s why a 30 day challenge works so well – it’s long enough to experience some positive changes in your life, but short enough to where you’re not overwhelmed by it.
An Overview On Developing A Habit For 30 Days
It’s easy to get started with your 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge. The secret to success is to focus on a single new habit to do for the next 30 days. Don’t try to create a bunch of new habits at once.
Also it helps to track this new habit each day, and make adjustments as you go along.
Here is an overview of some things to track during the 30-day gratitude challenge.
#1 – Reason Why
Give a specific reason why practicing gratitude is important to you. It’s imperative to know why you want to make this change. Relate it to something important and emotional to you. We’ve talked about all the benefits to practicing gratitude. Imagine what your life will look like when you follow this new habit.
#2 – Description
Write down an overview of your new gratitude habit, with the step-by-step actions that you’ll complete. What time of day will you do the habit? How will you remember to do the habit? Be sure to include any tools or environmental cues that will help/hinder your completion of this new routine.
#3 – Obstacles
Every habit has a trigger. This is a thought, cue or action that creates resistance to this change. Your job is to identify any trigger that pops up.
Use your journal to track obstacles. Write down them down whenever they occur. Include important information like: Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? What thoughts are in your head?
This data is very important for discovering why you do the things you do.
#4 – Results
Track your success with a daily metric. It can be a simple as a Yes or No (Did you do the habit today or not)? You can also track how long you spent on the habit each day.
The daily metric is the key to forming a permanent habit. There will be days where you’ll fall off the wagon. The important thing is to track these lapses and carry on.
#5 – Verdict
You’ll need to make a decision at the end of the month: Should it stay or should it go?
Analyze this habit. Did it help your life? Can you improve the process? Did you have time to complete it? Should you keep it? Or should you eliminate it? Should you try it for another 30 days and see what happens?
It’s important to make a decision after 30 days on what you’ll do next.
How To Set Yourself Up For Success In The 30 Day Gratitude Challenge
As we mentioned earlier, you’re going to pick only one habit to work on — and make the habit small, so you can set yourself up for success. This is extremely important, because as we talked about in my fitness example, most people make the mistake of doing multiple habits, or trying to do too much with the habit they’re forming, or both.
But what are some other ways to be successful on the 30 day gratitude challenge?
- Come up with a plan. Take a few days to pick your specific gratitude habit (we’ll give you some ideas in the next section), analyze your behaviors, identify triggers, plan out how you’ll overcome your obstacles, pick the time of day you’ll implement the habit, plan who your support network will be, create a log for the habit, pick rewards, and decide what your motivations are. Write these down!
- Practice habit stacking. When creating this new habit, you’ll have a better chance of sticking with it if you stack it on an existing habit (e.g flossing after brushing your teeth). You’ll want to build in reminders. Try never to skip it. The more consistent you are, the stronger the habit will be.
- Build in positive feedback. Focus on enjoyment, make it a game, create competition, do it with a partner or group if possible, and reward yourself for weekly milestones.
- Enjoy the habit. If you form a daily habit of writing a thank you card, for example, focus on the full enjoyment of writing the card as you do the new habit. Perhaps you’re recalling a positive memory that you and the recipient of the card shared. Maybe you imagine the smile on their face as they open your card. Enjoy every aspect of this new habit. This is built-in positive feedback, and you’ll look forward to the new habit if you focus on enjoyment.
- Announce your success after the habit. After you go practice your gratitude habit for the day, such as writing a thank you card, post about it on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog. People will congratulate you, and you’ll feel great.
- Do something enjoyable right after the habit. If you like to browse Facebook, make a pledge not to do until you’ve completed your gratitude habit for the day.
- Report daily to a social group and use them for support when things get difficult. When you feel like not doing the habit, have one or more people you can call on for help. A social group is built-in positive feedback, as well as motivation through accountability.
Let’s look at a specific gratitude example – writing thank you cards – and how to be successful writing them for the next 30 days.
Suppose that this is a brand new habit, and it’s been months or even years since you’ve written a thank you note. Here are some ways you can be successful writing thank you cards during the 30 day gratitude challenge:
- Start small. It may sound great to write 5 thank you cards daily, but is that realistic? Start small and consider writing 1 card per day. Remember, small habits are easier to stick to, and after 30 days, you can decide if you want to expand the habit to something bigger.
- Determine who you’ll write the card to. I would suggest doing this in the evening, right before you go to bed. Figure out who you want to write your card to the next day. A customer that bought one of your products? Perhaps a co-worker that helped you with a project. Or a friend that you haven’t talked to in a while. Figure this out the night before so you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it the next day.
- Get your materials ready. Writing a thank you card involves a card, an envelope, a stamp, a pen and a mailing address. Have all of these out the evening before so you’re ready to go the next day!
- Figure out what time you’ll write the card. I love writing cards as part of my morning routine. It ties in nicely with writing in a gratitude journal. Writing a card first thing in the morning improves my odds of getting the card written. As the day goes by, and other “stuff” gets in the way, writing thank you cards becomes more difficult.
- Practice habit stacking. When creating this new habit, you’ll have a better chance of sticking with it if you stack it on an existing habit. Perhaps you make coffee first thing in the morning each morning. Making coffee can be your reminder to write your thank you note. While you’re sitting down enjoying that freshly brewed cup of coffee, put pen to paper, and write a thank you note.
Different Ways to Practice Daily Gratitude
OK we’ve given you a good overview of the 30 day gratitude challenge and ways to be successful. Now it’s time for you to pick how you want to express gratitude for the next 30 days.
We’ve already talked about keeping a gratitude journal where you can write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Or if you need to break it down even more, you can write down one thing you’re grateful for.
We also talked about writing thank you cards.
But what if keeping a gratitude journal or writing thank you cards isn’t your thing? What are some other ways to express gratitude?
Fortunately, there are many other ways to show gratitude. I recommend checking out 47 simple ways to make gratitude a part of your day. That will give you a lot of ideas. Although some of them are not practical to do for this 30 day gratitude challenge, here are 5 of my favorites that you could commit to for the next 30 days. Remember, pick just one.
- Create A Gratitude Video. Make a video for someone that has impacted your life and send it to them. Really make it heartfelt and tell the other person not only that they have impacted you, but how. They will love it.
- Take A Gratitude Walk. Whether it’s right around your neighborhood or a hike in the woods. Immerse yourself in good thoughts while you look at the trees, flowers, snow – all the beauty and abundance of nature. Leave your phone at home and really notice and think about all of the good things going on in your life.
- Keep A Gratitude Jar: Keep a jar filled with notes on life’s blessings (small and big) in your home. For the 30 day gratitude challenge, cut up 30 slips of paper. Each day write down one thing you’re grateful for and put it in the jar. At the end of the 30 days, gather your family around, empty the jar and read all 30 notes. This will help you be more aware of all the good you have in your life.
- Hug Someone: Hug someone to show how grateful you are to have him or her in your life. A simple hug could be just what a person needs to feel loved and appreciated. Commit to giving one hug per day!
- Give A Genuine Compliment: Give a compliment on on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire in someone. Or compliment someone on their character. Tell someone what you like about them. For the 30 days of gratitude, give one compliment per day.
If you’re looking to live a more positive, happier life, give this 30 Day Gratitude Challenge a try. The key points to remember are to pick only one specific gratitude habit to focus on for the 30 days, and track your progress.
At the end of the 30 days, you make the call whether you want to stick with it or not. Good luck!
Finally, one proven way to improve your happiness and life satisfaction is to focus on goals that truly matter. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Scott Colby is an adventure lover who has always created businesses around his passions. Although he has spent over a decade in the fitness industry, helping people create transformations, it was a trip to Guatemala that inspired him to create his latest brand – Say It With Gratitude.