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How to Practice Gratitude on Social Media—and How Not To

When and how to use technology to build your gratitude skills.

When we express gratitude at work, we can more easily gain the respect and camaraderie of those we work with. When we share our gratitude for our partners or friends, they are more generous and kind to us. When we feel grateful for our day-to-day, we find more meaning and satisfaction in life. The benefits of gratitude are clear. But it’s not always clear when to show our gratitude. It can feel uncomfortable to share gratitude in person, especially when we’re new to gratitude. So one good way to get started with gratitude is by practicing it on social media. Here are 3 ways to practice gratitude on social media—and 2 ways not to.

1. Write Gratitude Messages to Close Friends

The easiest way to get started with practicing gratitude on social media is by writing short gratitude messages to the people you feel most comfortable with. Take a moment now to write down the names of three people you feel close to. Next to each name, write down at least one thing about each person that you are thankful for.

It could be something they did for you. Did this person help you figure out what to do about a problem at work? Did they buy you a coffee, drink, or meal recently? Did they say something nice or do something nice for you? Or, it could be something about them. Are they just generally a kind person? Are they funny? Do they cook really yummy food?

Once you have your list, post or private message this person a sentence or two sharing your gratitude. It could be something as simple as – Hey, you rock! I’m so glad to have you as a friend. Or it could be more specific – Remember that time when my car broke down and you picked me up? Just wanted to say thanks! Try to get in the habit of sending these messages more often. You could even remind yourself to do it by adding your plan to your calendar.

2. Share a Gratitude List With Friends

To ramp up your social media gratitude practice, create a new post with your gratitude list. Write a list of three things you are grateful for today. For example, today I am grateful it’s sunny, grateful that I get to spend the evening with good friends, and grateful I’m having a good hair day. Share this post with your friends, or a selection of close friends, and ask them to share what they are grateful for too. By practicing gratitude together, you can make it more fun and also connect with friends.

3. Write a Gratitude Letter

To take your gratitude practice up a notch, send a gratitude letter to someone who you never properly thanked. Your letter could be about anything. Maybe you want to thank a friend for always being there for you. Or maybe you want to thank your romantic partner for a very specific experience, like a date. In your letter, try to be specific and note why you value the other person, going beyond just the positive ways he or she makes you feel. Send this letter to the other person with an invitation to connect in person. This way, the letter becomes a stimulus to help you continue to strengthen your relationship with the person.

2 Ways to Practice Gratitude OFF of Social Media

Not all types of gratitude are best suited to social media. Sometimes gratitude posts do more harm than good. For example, posts or memes that say things like – “Grateful to be alive” or #Blessed can actually irk others. To some viewers, these posts come off as sounding trite or Pollyanna.

Other gratitude posts about our experiences can similarly have negative effects. For example, posts about how grateful we are for an awesome vacation or our loving romantic partner can leave others feeling envious or resentful. Sure, you may feel grateful, but if your expression of gratitude hurts your relationships, then the benefits of gratitude are lost. So instead of practicing these types of gratitude on social media, opt to use other methods.

1. Track Three Good Things on Your Smartphone

Build your gratitude habit by tracking three good things that happened to you each week. Track these good things on your phone so that you can keep adding to the list. Set a reminder in your calendar so you wont forget and choose a time when you’ll have at least a few minutes. Maybe you’d like to do this in the evening or maybe you prefer to do it first thing in the morning. What matters is that you choose a time that works for you and that you are likely to stick to. After doing this for a month, look back on all the things you wrote to give yourself a little positivity boost.

2. Create a Gratitude Collection of Images

To add variety to your gratitude practice, instead of writing about things you're grateful for, you can create gratitude collections. There are tons of images and image collecting apps online. Use one of these online tools to collect images of people, places, or things that you’re grateful for. These can be photos that you took, gratitude drawings you made, or images you found online. Every week, add new images to your collection. That way, you’ll get a gratitude boost from seeing all the other images you collected and continue to grow your collection.

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