Being thankful for life's blessings is the key to a happier life.
- Posted on Dec 12, 2014
Did you know that gratitude has the power to strengthen your immune system? Studies show that grateful people are happier and more optimistic--characteristics that correlate directly to physical health. Gratitude isn’t just something we practice on special occasions (like before that big Thanksgiving dinner); it’s a state of being, a way of life.
So how do you develop an attitude of gratitude? Here are some tips we think might help:
Keep A Gratitude Journal.
You don’t have to write a book, you don’t even have to write in full sentences, but every day, whether it’s while you’re drinking your morning cup of coffee or laying in bed about to turn off the lights, jot down a few things you were grateful for during the day. Maybe the weather was beautiful or you were able to pick up your child from school early and spend more time with them than usual--whatever made you happy, put it in writing so that you can look back, reflect and remember it later.
This may sound easy enough, but living in the moment is a rarity. How many times have you caught yourself thinking about work when spending quality family time at home? Or, how many times have you been caught daydreaming in a meeting, worrying about what’s for dinner or who’s going to pick up the kids from soccer practice? Our bodies may be in one place but our minds can be somewhere completely different. Let’s fix that. The next time you catch yourself worrying or stressing over something that isn’t happening right this minute, remind yourself to stay present. Be in the now. Absorb everything your boss is saying in the boardroom, listen attentively when your child describes their day at school, take a second to just be and see the peace and serenity you feel when doing so.
Find a project you’re passionate about or contact that charity you’ve been meaning to donate to and find out ways you can help others. Lending a helping hand to someone in need is not only an excellent way to remember how blessed you are, but it will give you a sense of purpose and a way to spread joy to others. Give others something else to be grateful for too … you!
Create A Gratitude Board.
Who isn’t plugged into Pinterest any moment your computer screen is on? We love Pinterest boards because we can store all of our favorite things on them, recipes, hairstyles, dream vacations, remodeling projects, they’re all there at the click of a mouse. So why not create a gratitude board you can go to for inspiration when being thankful isn’t coming as easily as you’d like. Start a board and fill it with motivational quotes, scriptures reminding you how blessed you are. Try to stay away from the materialistic and instead focus on the intangible: love, family, trust, faith. Go to it whenever you need a pick me up in the gratitude attitude department.
Share The Love.
Another great way to practice an attitude of gratitude is to express how thankful you are for the things in your life. Tell your wife or husband how much you love them, how much you appreciate all that they do for the family. Talk with your kids, share what you think makes them special and unique and why you’re grateful to have them in your life. Send a short email to your co-worker, thanking them for their help with that difficult project or for taking some of the workload when you called out sick last week. Chances are there are plenty of people you’re grateful for in your life, start letting them know just how important they are.
Comparison is definitely the thief of joy, but it’s also human nature. People compare in order to assure themselves that they’re doing a good job. But constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses rarely makes anyone happier (not even the Joneses). Instead of trying to make sure you have the flashiest car, the nicest wardrobe or the biggest house, look at the things you have that can’t be bought.
Find A Healthy Balance.
It would be easy to say that having an attitude of gratitude means never uttering another complaint again. There are plenty of challenges we could issue, like try going 21 days without complaining about something, to get you to practice the habit. But realistically, sooner or later, something will pop up that you’ll just have to grumble about. That’s okay. Life isn’t perfect and neither are people. There will be days where bad things happen and the only way to deal with them is to vent your frustration. But when you’re done complaining about getting another parking ticket, the mindboggling amount of traffic on your work commute or how your barista didn’t make your coffee the right way, take a minute and remind yourself of something you’re thankful for. Equal out the negative with a positive and end on a good note. Life is about balance and we can’t be grateful for the good if we don’t acknowledge the not-so-good every once in a while.