As a society we tend to be driven by wealth, material assets, and work performance and productivity. Many of us find it difficult to be grateful for the small things or even notice them as we go about our life. The truth is, research shows that people who are more materialistic tend to be less happy. If your goal is to live a happier life, a daily practice of gratitude can help retrain your brain to become more positive and grateful overall. Having gratitude has been shown to have positive benefits to your health and mental state and can even help make you a happier person. In fact, over the years, researchers have shown that gratitude can improve physical and psychological health, sleep, social connections, feelings of empathy, and mental capacity.
With all of these potential benefits you might want to consider adding some daily gratitude to your daily life. With that in mind, here are three powerful changes you can make to attract positivity and happiness and become a more grateful person.
Commit to a daily gratitude practice
Teaching your mind to recognize and feel grateful for what you already have can become a useful daily activity that helps you maintain your peace of mind and balance. As you go through the day, take a few moments to pause and remember something you feel grateful for. If you’re finding it hard to come up with ideas, create a list and get into the habit of reading that list every night, adding a few things to it over time. At first, thinking of things you feel grateful for can be difficult, but with time you can teach yourself to easily recognize the positive aspects of your life. It can be as small as “I’m grateful for having a roof over my head”. Start there and expand your list until it becomes second nature to recognize all of the great things you already have instead of focusing on the things you’re missing.
When you find yourself focusing on a negative thought, tell yourself “I am grateful for …” and read something from your list. This can become a spiritual practice that gains momentum over time and becomes second nature to you. Over time it will become a habit.
Try this exercise to help prompt your mind to find things to add to your gratitude list. At the end of each day, ask yourself these three questions:
- What moved me emotionally today?
- What inspired me?
- What brought a smile to my face?
Be grateful for this exact moment. Because it’s all you truly have. The past is already gone, and the future doesn’t exist yet and is certainly not something you can control. The present moment is the only truly tangible and real thing in your life when you think about the big picture.
Use physical prompts
There are several gratitude prompts you can choose from when your trying to build a daily gratitude practice. Use whatever works for you! Here are a few ideas…
Having a gratitude jar can help you build a habit of thinking in gratitude and abundance. Place your jar on the kitchen counter, adding a daily post-it note with three things you feel grateful for written on it. Fold each post-it in half and place into the jar, filling it over time. When your jar is full or when you’re having a particularly hard day, empty the jar and read your notes, placing them back when you’ve finished, or discarding them and starting again.
Carrying a gratitude rock with you… Using physical prompts can be a powerful reminder and can help you shift your focus towards a more positive mindset over time. When you have a stressful moment you can reach into your pocket and hold the rock in your hand, reminding yourself to be grateful for the things you have. You can even add word prompts to the rock, for example a thing or person you feel grateful for. When you take the rock out and look at it, you’ll be reminded of it instantly.
Wearing a gratitude bracelet or necklace will remind you of your gratitude mindset everytime you take it off or put it on. You will also see it several times a day. Purchase a charm bracelet with a symbol that means something to you. This can be a heart, a letter that represents someone you love, something that makes you laugh or smile, or a symbol that represents your career or your ultimate goal in life. Whatever you connect with is fine. Every time you see your bracelet or necklace, you’ll be reminded of how much you have to be grateful for.
Be here now
In many of my posts, I talk about the importance of being mindful and how having a meditative practice can give you a sense of peace and balance. The topic of gratitude is no different. Having a meditation practice will bring you back to the present moment and can help you disconnect from your negative thoughts and feelings or memories of stressful past events. It can also help you stop thinking and feeling anxious about your future. This not only helps the mind stop wishing for things it doesn’t have yet which can bring up feelings of not having or being enough, but it also supports relaxation and reduces anxiety.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and engaged in the present moment and being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judging them. It’s a very useful way of learning to control anxiety and feelings of overwhelm, and can be helpful in changing your mindset and learning to live without resistance. You can use a daily practice of mindfulness and even use this technique in moments of stress throughout your day.
✔ If you’re looking for ideas on how to meditate, download your free “3 Amazing Meditations for Healing” here!
Here is a simple gratitude meditation you can use:
Get comfortable, sit in a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. As you settle into your relaxed posture, close your eyes, take three deep breaths and become aware of your immediate environment. What do you smell, taste, touch, see, hear, feel around you?
Now, focus you mind on the current people in your life and think about those you feel grateful for, your friends, family, partner…. Say out loud “For you, I am grateful.”. Stay with this thought for a few minutes, repeating the mantra as many times as you feel comfortable doing. Then, turn your attention to you, thinking about what makes you unique. What are your abilities and strengths? What have you accomplished recently that you feel proud of? Now, say out loud “For this, I am grateful.”. Again, stay with your thoughts for a few minutes. When you’re ready, take a deep breath, bring your attention back to your surroundings, and open your eyes.
Performing these three gratitude exercises has the benefit of making you a more mindful and appreciative person. It can help you realize that you have everything you need now to satisfy your basic needs and find happiness. After all, it’s when we feel we don’t have enough that we start to feel less adequate and turn towards a scarcity mindset. Having a gratitude practice can help you give yourself permission to enjoy the positive moments in your life.
Copyright Authentic World Inc 2020, Michelle Thompson 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I’m a postgraduate qualified professional with over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and crisis services coordinator, and after working for eight years as a non-profit consultant, I felt a strong desire to return to helping people. I created Authentic World Inc, an international life coaching company that offers one-on-one support and self-directed courses on personal development topics. I also teach philosophy part time at Carleton University in Canada’s national capital. In my coaching approach, I consider the teachings of the modern philosophers of our time and use a holistic method for teaching you how to become more compassionate towards yourself and improve the quality of your life in the process.
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