The habit of gratitude can improve your overall quality of life. That’s an amazing benefit from something so small.

But as with any habit, it can feel like you’re not doing it right sometimes. To be honest, there’s no “right” way to do things, but in the spirit of helping a fellow habit creator, I thought I’d offer a few tips.

These don’t apply to everyone, but you might see something worth trying here:

  1. Write down 3 things. In a study where participants were randomly assigned to one of six therapeutic intervention conditions designed to improve their overall quality of life … the longest-lasting effects came when people wrote down three things they were grateful for each day, in a gratitude journal. Their happiness scores kept increasing every time they were periodically tested, even after the experiment. The greatest benefits often came six months after they started the practice.
  2. Try to mean it. When you list things you’re grateful for, really feel it. Actually feel the gratitude in your body as you think about the things on your list. It turns it from a simple act of writing, to one that makes you happy right now.
  3. Think about others. Take time to consider people you’re grateful for. In all parts of your life. Why are you grateful for them?
  4. Look around your life. What other things in your life are you grateful for? Having a roof over your head, food to eat, a job, beautiful surroundings?
  5. What about yourself? Consider your gratitude for yourself — what about yourself do you like, are you thankful for? This can be difficult for a lot of people, but instead of seeing your faults and shortcomings, try to see the good things in yourself.
  6. See the big picture. Consider gratitude for life itself. It’s a miracle. It’s full of beauty. What about life do you love?
  7. Consider the purpose of gratitude. Gratitude is the parent of all other virtues, according to Cicero. Consider what gratitude will lead to — greater love for others, more mindfulness in your life, less excess and unhealthy actions, etc. It’s worth spending some time contemplating, and really understanding the “Why.”
  8. Use it in interactions. Be grateful for people, as you talk to them. Consider how awesome it is to have this person in your life, and be thankful, and let that show as you talk to them.
  9. Send gratitude emails. Make a regular practice of writing an email of gratitude to someone important in your life. Just a short thank you. It only takes a minute, and it helps you to communicate your gratitude.