Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it. ―Ralph Marston
Gratitude is key to achieving happiness, yet it is often overlooked by society’s emphasis on success via wealth and popularity.
Does this mean we shouldn’t want to work towards goals? Of course not, it just means the focus should be on gratitude, compassion and kindness and aligning yourself with this base while working on life goals and intentions.
Being grateful creates an awareness that can shift us out of negative thinking to a positive mindset. From this space of mindfulness, we can appreciate life as it is and what it presents us.
There are so many benefits of gratitude such as improved health, stronger relationships, better sleep, boosted self-esteem and overall increased happiness. Like any habit we would like to cultivate, being thankful is something that needs to be harnessed daily.
Here are some ideas on how to boost your feelings of appreciation:
Expressing written gratitude regularly in a journal for just 5-10 minutes a day has been shown to increase long-term happiness by more than 10% (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005). Journaling gratitude helps with clarity, organizing thoughts and focusing on appreciation.
Sign-posts and sticky notes
When you first wake up, think of an object (your sign-post reminder). For example, a red stop sign. Every time you see a red stop sign during the day, think or say aloud something you are grateful for. You can use this same idea indoors by sticking a post-it note up in your office or home asking, “What are you grateful for?”.
Take a 15-20 minute walk outdoors and observe everything in your surroundings that you can be thankful for with your senses. Look and listen to the world around you, smell the nature as you walk in it, feel the cool breeze on your face, and feel the rhythm of your foot as it lands on the ground with each step.
Alarms and calendar alerts
If you find yourself forgetting to live gratefully, try setting your phone alarm or a calendar alert to remind you to pause and give thanks. Stop whatever you are doing, take a deep breath or two and express one or more things you are grateful for.
Volunteer – Assisting others less fortunate than you is a great way to give back to the humanity and work on your compassion. Often seeing those less fortunate than us makes us feel grateful for what we have.
Acts of kindness – Doing good deeds involve gratitude because doing something for someone else can help you become more mindful while increasing feelings of empathy, and gratefulness. Pay someone a compliment or encourage someone having a difficult day. Really care and listen to people during a conversation. Smile. Leave anonymous notes of encouragement in random places.
Letter of appreciation – Writing a letter of gratitude to someone you admire helps you clearly express your appreciation for someone. Delivering it increases the impact.
Sometimes, we may find ourselves in challenging situations that make it difficult to practice gratitude. Perhaps the situation is negative or you’re dealing with a pessimistic person. If this happens, we can try to:
- Find at least 3 positive things about the situation or person.
(This trains your brain to focus on the positives)
- Think about what your life would be like without the situation or person.
(Would life be easier? Would you miss out on a learning opportunity that makes you a stronger person?)
- Notice ingratitude
(Pay attention to when you have negative feelings about yourself, someone else or something happening to you and repeat bullet number one. If you feel you don’t deserve gratitude or should be grateful but you aren’t, reflect on what is making you feel you don’t deserve gratitude?)
An intentional gratitude practice may seem unnatural at first, but with regular practice it can become a part of your mindset and work its magic.✨