How do you practice gratitude in your day-to-day life? Has it changed your outlook, your mindset, and behaviors?
It may be difficult to see gratitude as a sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life.
We have a tendency to focus largely on things that go wrong. It's easier to focus on negative experiences rather than explain why something was positive or how something went well.
Think about your last visit to renew your car registration and list five things that went wrong or were negative (long lines, long wait times, poor customer service, etc.)
When those negative ideas start flowing, it’s tough to stop them, as they can build upon one another.
Cultivating a sense of gratitude increases joy and happiness by creating new connection in the brain. It's not a matter of if--it's when will we going to have a negative thought or a bad day? How quickly does your mind turn to positivity and gratitude in a negative circumstance?
The more we cultivate gratitude the faster you're able to course correct that negative thought. Research says creating a life of gratitude promotes: positive thinking, strengthens relationships with others, aids in coping with stress and trauma, and improves health.
Several options to cultivate gratitude include:
Begin and end with a positive intention. Start each day by thinking about three things you appreciate and expect from the day, and as you turn out the lights at the end of each day also consider all you’re grateful for.
Awareness. Throughout each day, find small things to be thankful for. The line at your coffee shop was shorter than normal. Make everything count and bring conscious attention to what made you glad.
People & Capacity. Ensure you’re focusing on being grateful not just for things, but for people and conditions. Perhaps you particularly appreciate the headphones which help make your workout more fun, but also pay attention to the person at the gym who made you feel welcome or the fact that you have the capability to walk, lift or stretch.
Write it down. Write down three things every day. When you write down your gratitude statements, that simple act cultivates happiness and wellbeing.
Express yourself. Gratitude impacts you and those around you. When you share what you’re grateful for in a group environment, it holds even more power. Thank your son for taking out the trash or provide positive feedback to a colleague during a project session. When gratitude is expressed and shared, it helps both you and the group (or family).
Be humble. Humility is the "act of being modest or respectful." Think about what you take for granted and how you can shift your attitude and position. Humility helps us be open to new ways of thinking and experiencing the world.
Donate. Give your time, energy and financial resources. Join a cause that speaks to you because you are grateful for what you have been given or able to earn.
Pick one from the list above and begin cultivating your attitude of gratitude. Practice it for 30 days then come back and add another healthy habit for another 30 days. Start small and add on over time. Your awareness and perception will begin to change toward positivity which will impact your behavior and health!