Gratitude - you may be thinking what?! “How can gratitude help you or improve your life?”
Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experience, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
Gratitude is a way to appreciate what you DO HAVE rather than focusing on what you don’t have. It helps move you away from being in a state of always wanting the next new shiny thing in the hopes that it will make you happier or that you can’t feel satisfied until every physical / material need is met.
It may seem contrived at first to practice gratitude but moving the focus away from lack helps shift your mindset to a more positive one, which in turn may help improve your quality of life.
So how do you practice gratitude?
Here are a few ideas of how to bring more gratitude into your life and begin to practice it daily. Practice it, until it becomes a habit and see if you notice a change in your outlook and positivity towards life.
1. Surround yourself with beauty
How can you make your environment more visually pleasing? Where do you spend most of your time during the day? Get rid of clutter on your work desk or treat yourself to fresh flowers every week at home. Even find ways to incorporate images that bring you peace and relaxes you like on your coffee mug, inspirational screensavers on your phone or wherever you will see it.
2. Bookmark the beginning and end of your day with gratitude
Practice gratitude waking and falling asleep - it’s an easy time to remember.
Simply, find three things to be grateful for. Do this first thing in the morning—before getting up and when your head hits the pillow, think of three things you were grateful for that happened during the day.
3. Remember the small things
Can’t think of what to be grateful for, it’s often the small or everyday things that we take for granted. For example, being grateful we have our health, we have access to food and water, hearing the birds sing. These small or everyday things helps teach us to be more situationally aware; so that our appreciation for all the wonders of life naturally grows—including what is wonderful about others.
4. Write thank you letters
With email and technology thank you letters and cards are becoming rarer. Taking the time to write down how grateful you are is a great way to express gratitude. Think of people in your life who make your life better. Write them a thank-you note … even if you never send them. Putting in words what you appreciate about the people in your life (past or present) is a wonderful way of creating neural pathways of gratitude in your brain.
Forgiveness can be a great healing tool, especially when you let go of old upsets and long-standing hurts. It often helps us more than it helps those we forgive.Remember it's for our benefit, not the person being forgiven.
Forgiving does not mean forgetting. You can forgive someone, but not allow them repeat hurtful behaviour. You can forgive someone, recognizing they are stuck, even when they are not sorry. Forgiveness helps you.
Forgiveness is freeing. It is an act; not a feeling. Remember that you can also forgive yourself - you are not your mistakes. You are a whole person who loves and evolves and grows.
6. Be mindful of your conversations
Do you often complain about someone or something? This is a natural thing to do but be mindful if you are staying in this state of complaining for long periods or it’s become something you do regularly.
What about those conversations with yourself - that negative self-talk - do you tell yourself off? It’s that inner voice/ critic pointing out everything that’s gone wrong. Try to limit this. No matter how justified it might be, it’s you, you are hurting having negative thoughts.
If you’re in a negative state of mind it’s unlikely you will be feeling gratitude. If something is wrong, do your best to resolve, maybe try talking to the person directly. Rather than continuing in that negative thought pattern, by for example, complaining / gossiping with your friend.
As for that inner critic – remember if you don’t talk kindly to yourself, you’ll find it much harder to love others or accept love from others.
So, give yourself a break and be kind to yourself.
7. Live in the Moment
Stop yourself a few times throughout the day to simply notice what you are feeling and notice what is around you. Notice your now decluttered work space, notice the beauty of the outdoors from your window, Listen to the birds singing. Notice that cute little drawing on your noticeboard that your six-year-old did for you.
Say to yourself, “I am so happy and grateful to be alive in this moment. I am grateful for the gift of my life.” (I love a good affirmation!) Create affirmations that resonate with you.
Now you’ve got a few ideas time to take action.
Take Action to Practice Gratitude
Don’t be too ambitious trying to incorporate too many of the above as you’ll probably overwhelm yourself or demotivate yourself. Take a realistic look at yourself. If you’re someone whose is in the habit of NOT creating new habits, then it is especially important to keep all your new practices of gratitude short and simple.
Pick something which you will enjoy doing for example don’t force yourself to meditate if you have no interest in that. Pick something fun which will lift your mood.
Start with a small amount of time or actions to begin with. Don’t make yourself write out 40 things you’re grateful—start out with a number you can easily achieve. (Make it feel easy!) Write down three things you are grateful for (not forty). Do five minutes of meditation—not an hour. Practise doing short exercises at home rather than join a full hour’s class. This will make it so much easier to slowly incorporate these gratitude practices into your daily life.
In summary :
Pick a small number of manageable activities which are: fun, easy and quick.
So what do you think?
Can gratitude change your life? What does it mean to live a life of gratitude? Let me know what you think. What ways you practice gratitude and if you see any improvement in your life?
To your success! Have a great week. Kay x
Helping ladies move from feeling stuck and overwhelmed in their lives to designing & achieving their goals, dreams and ambitions. For more information on bringing positive change into your life – www.kaymalcolmcoaching.com