5 ways to activate your gratitude that aren't journaling

Want an attitude of gratitude but don’t have the time to journal? Here are 5 scientifically proven ways to activate it in your daily life.


Gratitude is the emotional catalyst for igniting joy, happiness and compassion in our lives. But day-to-day life – the struggles and responsibilities of balancing work, social life, home - mean the attitude of gratitude can sometimes be lost. However, gratitude has the power to benefit our wellbeing in more ways than one. 


Gratitude has been proven to boost our sense of self-worth and confidence. It has also been proven time and again that by practising gratitude humans are more likely to be successful in life (you can read about this concept in the book The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor). Gratitude can help you to feel happier, as well as lowering your blood pressure and reducing inflammation. 


With this in mind, you may wonder how best to practice gratitude. The most popular and advertised way is through journaling which can be extremely powerful when cultivating an attitude of gratitude. However, we don’t all have the time to jot down our thoughts and feelings, nor do we feel inspired daily. Rather than telling you to journal, here are 5 scientifically-backed alternative ways to journaling that will activate your gratitude so you can live a truly fulfilled life 


1. Ignite gratitude with music 

There is scientific evidence to prove that music can influence our memories. To embrace the practice of gratitude, first, we need to have experienced memories to be grateful for. Revisiting those memories is even more powerful and just the simplest thought of a song you love can spike our dopamine levels within the brain. A study concluded how songs we listened to through the ages of 12-22 have the most impact when it comes to igniting gratitude and creating everlasting memories. So, take the time to create your very own gratitude playlist and embark on a journey down memory lane to activate your gratitude and relive the nostalgia.  


2. Collective Memory 

The #photodump isn’t just a millennial trend, it can help to trigger feelings of gratitude. The photo dump is a series of photos shared across a carousel, often on Instagram. Unlike the perfectly edited images often shared online, photo dumps are a random collection of memories curated by the user with a focus on things or moments they are grateful for. For example, it could include that perfect plump peach you ate, an autumnal scene or your cat peacefully sleeping. It can be fun to post these monthly, so at the end of the year you have 12 albums of grateful memories. One study linked Instagram use with increased feelings of gratitude, so why not try posting a photo dump and see how it makes you feel? 


3. Post-it Prompts 

Writing notes of gratitude to yourself can have a long-term effect on your day when written in the morning, according to one gratitude study. Think about areas of your home that you frequent most, maybe your bathroom mirror, bedside table or fridge, and take the time to write a small note to yourself. These notes should be short and snappy and should be a celebration of you 


To get started, think of one personality trait you like about yourself. Even better, you can ask your friends and family to describe you with three positive words. Grab a Post-it note and stick it somewhere special to remind yourself of how great you truly are! You can also write a Post-it note to a loved one, put it somewhere you know they will see it and spread your gratitude even further.  


4. Shop Locally 

After the pandemic we all became clickbait addicts, from clothes and groceries to gifts, online shopping became bigger news than ever before. However, once the pandemic dwindled, local shops re-opened their doors, restaurants served up fresh food again and farmers’ markets re-emmerged making us all feel grateful for our local amenities like never before. Shopping locally and seasonally, especially when it comes to fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, meat and fish is so important, not only is it better for the environment but it’s also far more nutritious. On top of this, it is also showing your appreciation for the people who harvest your food locally and this has been proven to have substantial benefits for our mental wellbeing. Next time you think about shopping at a big supermarket, swerve the queues and visit your local greengrocer for your seasonal and sumptuous greens instead. 

5. Mood Board 

Visualising what you desire can elicit positive enlightenment for formulating goals but also remind us of what we are grateful for. If you are a visual storyteller, then grab some old magazines and books or even draw out what brings you happiness and what it is you want to visualise for your future self. This simple practice may seem childlike, but creating a mood board (or, as we like to call it, a dream board) focuses you, giving you direction and purpose. Of course, a large-scale mansion and sports car may be desires of yours but try to think of things on a meaningful level such as your future career or family, asking yourself the question: what makes me happy? 


Place your dream board somewhere you can see it and every time you are feeling a little overwhelmed or distracted, take a moment to focus on it. A dream board works best if your intentions and goals come from a state of gratitude and, if done right, it could help bring you closer to who you want to be whilst also reminding you to be grateful for what you already have.  

Amy Lawrenson

Amy Lawrenson

Amy Lawrenson is a UK beauty editor with over 13 years of experience writing for magazines and websites including ELLE, Grazia, Women's Health and Byrdie. She has a keen interest in all things beauty and wellness, especially skincare because who doesn't want a clear, glowing complexion?