Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. – Oprah Winfrey
It’s that time of the year when Americans gather their friends and family around a table and practice giving thanks. But why should anyone limit themselves to being thankful only once a year? Gratefulness should be a daily practice, integrated throughout your day. You’ll be happier, healthier, have more loving and intimate relationships, and more energy – and that’s just the beginning.
In this post we show you how to cultivate more gratefulness in your daily life.
1. Start a gratitude journal
Taking the time to write — consciously, consistently and in detail — what you are grateful for each day, you’ll become far more aware of the many aspects of my life that you should be grateful for.
You can go old-school and write in a journal (we love the Moleskine or the Passion Planner also has a gratitude log) or use technology such as the Gratitude Journal App or using Thx4. Writing a gratitude journal does not have to be a lengthy, elaborate process, just a daily and aware habit.
First, take a few moments to think about what you’re grateful for, stretching yourself to write something different than the day before. It can be something you already have in your life, or something in your day, or week, you’re looking towards and are grateful for. Just remember: make it personal, specific to you and something you are genuinely grateful for.
Then watch your attitude shift for the rest of the day…
2. Focus on the solution not the problem
Become conscious of the moments in your life when you feel angry, frustrated and annoyed. Being aware and mindful of these moments is the first step. Once fully aware of those moments, purposefully shift your state of thinking towards a solution. Ask yourself: what outcome do I want here, and is there another way around this frustration/anger/annoyance? Remember your grateful moments from the morning. Are these emotions worth their weight on my shoulders?
By actively working through your own problems each day — using your gratefulness practice as a mental axis around which to turn things — you should continue to see a grateful thread being strung throughout your day.
3. Be conscious of your words
Do you ever find yourself in a cycle of negative and self-defeating thoughts? Like I’ll just be happy when… Or If only [x], then I wouldn’t feel [y].
Be conscious of your words. They set you up for failure, or success. Concentrate on using more positive words each day that are laden with a grateful sentiment. For example, I am happy with [x] so [y] won’t bother me. Whatever the words are that work for you, use them.
4. Write thank you letters
Remember the good ol’ days before email? We wrote to each other. We took the time to put pen to paper, seal those words in an envelope with a kiss. We actively engaged in thinking about someone throughout the process of completing a task.
Thank you cards are the PERFECT way to take that old-school practice of writing and putting it to good (grateful) use. Try it.
5. Keep good company
This one is obvious and I’ve written about it before: Surround yourself with the happy people who will help you to see the upside; how the glass is half full. Ban the happiness suckers in your life. They will only drag you down and make it more difficult to be happy.
6. Develop your own resource of gratitude motivation
Sometimes life does give you lemons. And while we all know that’s the time to make lemonade, it can be tough.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you pick yourself up when the skies are no longer blue. For example, check out Gratefulness.Org or Berkley’s Greater Good. Another personal favourite is this Ted Talk list — it’s bound to perk up your day.
Whatever works for you, lean on it. It may be a favourite quote, a friend who always makes you laugh, or a picture of one of your favourite life moments. Create a gratitude bank, and don’t be afraid to use it.
7. Create a gratitude ritual
With your gratitude journal down pat, your changed mindset and your resource of gratitude, you have all the elements you need to create a gratitude ritual.
What we mean is, develop a ritual throughout your day to help you cultivate, and continue to cultivate happiness and gratitude. Start with your morning practice, find a way to incorporate it into your morning tea, then a way to trigger it when you’re down and feeling ungrateful and finally, a way to tap into the gratefulness bank for others.
By making gratitude “your thing” you’ll be happier and healthier, but you’ll also find you’ll help attract more wonderful things in your life.
Try it, and let us know how you go.