52 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude in Your Life

52 ways to cultivate gratitude in your life

52 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude in Your Life


This time of year is all about the holidays. There’s no shortage of articles on how to save money on gift shopping and the best gifts to buy every person you know. But since it’s Thanksgiving and in the spirit of frugal living, I wanted to write about something else: gratitude. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about, right?

One topic that I don’t find addressed much in discussions on frugal living is the role of gratitude in a frugal lifestyle. An attitude of gratitude (I love how that rhymes) contributes to the feeling of a meaningful and satisfied life, even when you don’t have everything you want.

A frugal lifestyle is not meant to be one of extreme deprivation. It may feel like that for a while if you’re going financially hard times like paying off major debt or unexpectedly supporting a family on one income. But frugal living isn’t meant to cause you additional hardship.

At its best, frugal living is about living conscientiously to make the most of what you have. It requires turning a desire for more and bigger things into an appreciation for what you have today. So this year, I thought I’d write about 52 ways to cultivate gratitude in your life. Fifty-two so that you can do one each week for a year if that appeals to you. Or you can just pick the ones you like and do them whenever works best for you.


  1. Keep a gratitude journal

  2. Take a reflection walk

  3. Count how many times you say thank you in a day

  4. Thank someone for something they did for you in the past

  5. Tell someone how much he or she means to you

  6. Cook a meal for someone

  7. Donate money, time, or goods to your favorite charity

  8. Volunteer an hour or two of your time

  9. Have a conversation with someone you don’t normally talk to

  10. Share something of yourself with others such as a talent or food

  11. Praise someone else’s work

  12. Pay a compliment to each of the regular people in your life

  13. Apologize when you do something wrong

  14. Surprise someone with a handwritten note or letter

  15. Call an old friend to catch up with each other

  16. Pass on a favor you’ve received to another person. Pay it forward.

  17. Make a vision board of the things you’re thankful for

  18. Cut out something negative in your life

  19. Set personal goals for yourself

  20. Clean your closet and see how much clothes you actually have

  21. Donate everything you don’t want or use anymore

  22. Spend a day (or two) practicing mindfulness. Shut off the electronics and focus on the present.

  23. Catch yourself in a complaint and find the advantage or benefit in the situation

  24. Bite your tongue every time you want to complain on a given day

  25. Give a hug to someone who needs it

  26. Write a thank you note

  27. Write a letter to yourself in appreciation of your good qualities

  28. Reflect on your recent accomplishments and the help you received to get there

  29. Write down 3 things you like about someone special in your life

  30. Name 3 people who inspire you and state why

  31. Take time to play with a baby or child

  32. Take time to play with a dog or cat

  33. Take a day trip to someplace new

  34. Make something for someone (a dish, a card, etc.)

  35. Find the item that you’ve owned the longest (shirt, photograph, etc.) and reflect on how it’s impacted your life

  36. Bring your partner flowers or a special treat

  37. Surprise someone with a favorite dessert

  38. Treat yourself to a favorite indulgence

  39. Put down the phone or electronic completely every time you’re engaged in conversation

  40. Listen to those people speak with your full attention

  41. Accept another person’s opinion and hold your tongue when you want to refute it

  42. Take one someone else’s chores for a week

  43. Write a positive customer service comment

  44. Provide a generous tip for good service

  45. Host a celebratory gathering or meal for someone

  46. Send a picture of yourself using something someone gifted you

  47. Ask a family member what you can do to help him/her today

  48. Lend something without expecting it to be returned

  49. Return something your borrowed, if possible in better shape than when you received it

  50. Put together a care package for someone (a college student, a budget traveler, an elderly person)

  51. Write down your biggest challenge this past year and how you survived or overcame it

  52. Share your experience of growing gratitude with another person


When I look at this list, I’ll admit that I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m not the best at practicing gratitude in my everyday life, so I’ll be putting more of the above ways into action this coming year. I want to start by saying that I’m thankful for every one of you for taking the time to be a part of From Pennies to Plenty. Whether your email me, leave a comment, or read a post, I appreciate your time and attention, especially because I know how valuable they are. With that, I hope you and your loved ones have a happy Thanksgiving!

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What do you think about the value of gratitude in a frugal lifestyle? What are some ways that you show gratitude in your life?