A new habit I’ve embraced is a gratitude walk. Several times a week I’ll head out on a 30-to-45-minute walk through my city neighborhood with the intention of strictly focusing my mind on a mentality of appreciation. I begin by thinking about my faith and the many blessing, opportunities, and grace God has given my life.

As I move through a checklist of mental categories I focus on gratitude for my relationships, health, professional work, finances, hobbies, experiences, and the difficult challenges I’ve overcome that have improved my character, attitude, and confidence.  I focus on the vast array of opportunities that I can learn in the future, and how I can use my gifts to help and serve other people. I envision both the major and minor goals I wish to pursue in the future and imagine my sense of accomplishment as I work closer to achieving the target. As a result of this process, an enhanced sense of security overcomes my thoughts and helps to alleviate the stress and anxiety that accompanies many of my days.

Prior to each walk, I decide what categories I want to explore. I create a specific outline of categories (a mental check list) to keep my mind on track and far from wondering off target. On certain walks I will focus broadly on gratitude from my entire life, some walks I’ll focus on big items from the past year or past month I appreciate, and some days I’ll focus in detail on items from the past week or the past 24 hours that brought me happiness. Then, there are days when I will only focus on a list of items and opportunities that live in the future, and I will embrace the motivation and excitement of where my goals may lead my life.  Whether big life events, a sincere compliment, or small items like a simple cup of coffee, I have yet to run out of items for which I feel gratitude on these walks.

The result of my walk is always the same. When finished, I feel joy, accomplishment, and peace of mind.