How to Practice Gratitude
Have you ever heard the old adage that tells us to, “look at the glass half full?” It speaks to something that is tremendously important for our life and our happiness. What we see is objective, but our perspective on what is seen changes our interpretation. So how do we train our minds to perceive the abundance in life, not scarcity? What is the first step to becoming a ‘glass half full’ kind of person?
I think the first step towards becoming more cheerful and sincerely hopeful is to practice gratitude. There is no doubt that when we live lives focused on our blessings, we are more peaceful, happy, and fulfilled. There is less to want and more to appreciate.
Gratitude is both an attitude of mind and outward expressions of thankfulness. But practically speaking, how do we become more grateful? How do we live that our so that, slowly but surely, we reap the benefits of feeling happier and more fulfilled by living lives defined by what we’re grateful for as opposed to what we lack?
The answer is by practically and methodically changing our mindset by forming habits that help us to be more grateful for what we do have.
Here are a few strategies to begin cultivating this mindset of gratitude. I’d recommend taking one to start with and practicing it faithfully for 30 days. Habits table time to implement, so don’t take on too many new things at once. Revisit this blog after 30 days and begin building another habit of gratitude.
Have a Gratitude Journal
Every morning or evening, write down what you’re grateful for. This may be a sentence or two, or it may be a paragraph. Find the format and time that works best for you. I find that I like to write down three things I’m grateful for every morning before I start my day. Doing this starts my day out with a positive outlook and I think it helps to set the tone for how I respond to events in my day. I also love having the physical, hard copy of what I’m grateful for. On the days when I’m feeling more of a ‘glass half empty’ outlook, I’ll flip open the book and remember the many blessings in my life that I have to be thankful for.
Share What You’re Grateful For
Every night, Matt and I share three things with each other that we’re grateful for. They often are small - maybe a cup of coffee I shared with a friend or the beautiful weather outside. Whatever it is, it’s such a gift to pause every evening and recall why the day was a good one. We also find that in saying the things we’re grateful for, it becomes a moment of sharing and connection. Try implementing this with your spouse every night! If you’re not married and have roommates or good friends, try doing this with them, even if it’s via text during the day.
Turn the Negative Into a Gratitude
This is the harder one to implement, but it is such a worthwhile habit to try and cultivate. During your days, when things don’t go your way, consciously halt your reaction (whether that be anger, frustration, sadness, etc.) and find how this is a moment of gratitude. For example: someone cuts you off in traffic. Instead of responding by thinking, “What a jerk! I hate it when people cut me off!” Respond with, “I’m thankful for this moment to practice patience and understanding. Maybe they’re in a hurry or having a bad day.” Consciously spend 60 days trying to form this habit with intentionality.
Let us know how these little habits are helping you to change your days! Let’s find the joy in the ordinary, friends, by expressing gratitude.