There is one way to make sure that you wake up every day feeling calm, joyful, and blissed-out, and that is to adopt an attitude of gratitude.
When you make it a conscious habit to express appreciation for your life, the Universe listens and responds with more love. Let me be clear… this doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person if you cannot see the good on a bad day.
Life is far from perfect. Sometimes things happen that cause us to react negatively. Having a pity party is okay now and then. However, it does nothing good for your mental and emotional well-being.
An attitude of gratitude forces you to get outside of your problems and look at the bigger picture. In turn, you are better able to bounce forward when challenges occur in life.
What Is an Attitude of Gratitude?
An attitude of gratitude means that you operate from a place of abundance instead of a place of scarcity and fear. Each of us always has a choice of what we will focus on.
Grateful people give thanks for everything in their life, even on the days when it feels like nothing is going right.
To turn an attitude of gratitude into a sustainable habit, your foundation for feelings of gratitude must be independent of your circumstances.
Hence, even when it feels like nothing is going right, you have to find the silver lining and give thanks for what is working.
As Melody Beattie says,
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion to clarity.”
Why Is It Important?
We all know how important it is to have a positive attitude. But, unfortunately, we’re taught to look at the world as a half-full glass rather than a half-empty one. But, there’s good reason to adopt this mindset.
Studies show that if you express gratitude, it raises your happiness by 25%. When you take a moment to give thanks for what you have, instead of ruminating on what you don’t have, it fills you up.
If gratitude is so good for your mental and emotional health, then why do so many people struggle to practice it? As humans, we are hardwired to dwell or fixate on the bad.
Psychologists have found that negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones, referred to as negative bias.
As a result, many people tend to move farther away from gratitude, which is an essential precursor to happiness. As Lewis Howes says,
“If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”
9 Simple Ways to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
Let’s look at 9 simple ways that you can develop an attitude of gratitude.
1. Keep a gratitude Journal
If someone were to ask you right now what you’re grateful for, would you be able to answer, without overthinking?
We often experience things that we should be grateful for, only to forget them the next day. This is why writing down what you are grateful for is a good idea. By doing so, you are rewriting your brain to focus on the good.
Gratitude journaling is the habit of recording and reflecting on things (typically three) that you are grateful for regularly.
When it comes to practicing gratitude, consistency is key. Get into a routine of writing in your journal daily, preferably in the morning. This is a great way to start your day with a grateful heart.
2. Express Your Gratitude
Once you have developed an attitude of gratitude, you are free to share that love with others. How often do you take the time to tell people in your life how much they mean to you?
Research shows that on the days that individuals strive to express their gratitude, they experience more positive emotions and are more likely to report helping someone and to feel connected with others.
Think about the people in your life who have made a positive impact on you. Reach out and tell them how much you appreciate them. There are plenty of ways to express your gratitude.
Start writing thank-you notes to anyone who has helped you along your journey, give out meaningful compliments, and celebrate the joys of others as if they are yours, too. Now, more than ever before, we need to uplift and inspire one another.
3. Celebrate the Small Things
We are conditioned to focus on and celebrate our big achievements instead of our small wins. However, if you fail to ignore the small things and keep rushing from one thing to the next, you will quickly become demotivated.
Who you become isn’t determined by the end goal. Rather, it’s determined by the person who you become along your journey to success.
When you celebrate the small things, what you’re doing is celebrating your habits.
Take time to pause, slow down and savor the small things. Instead of obsessing about the future or dwelling on the past, be more aware of the present moment. It’s all you’ve got. Relish in it.
Meditation is a powerful practice in self-awareness. The goal isn’t to silence your thoughts. Rather, it’s to become an active observer of them. The meditation process is all about allowing the mind to do its thing and accept it as it is.
I’ve always struggled with meditation. Sitting in silence for long periods of time isn’t my cup of tea. However, once I started combining meditation with gratitude, the game changed.
I began the process of transforming my inner and outer world. Today, meditation has now become a non-negotiable ritual in my life.
Through meditation, we can build up areas of our brain and rewire them to enhance positive traits like focus and decision making and diminish the less positive ones like fear and stress.
When you master the mind, you master your emotions. All of a sudden, everything in your life flows with more ease. You become less reactive and are better able to handle life’s challenges with grace.
The beauty of gratitude meditation is that you can practice it anywhere. So take a few minutes out of your busy schedule each day to reflect upon the things and people you are grateful for.
5. Choose to focus on appreciation
If you want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, actively look for things to appreciate daily. Active gratitude is very different from reactive gratitude.
With reactive gratitude you wait for something to happen before you express appreciation or thanks.
With active gratitude you are consciously looking to be more grateful and express appreciation. Expressing gratitude becomes a choice.
Two things happen here. Firstly, the things and people you appreciate grow in value. Secondly, you start seeing more things to appreciate.
The result is that you experience far more gratitude in your life which increases positivity and happiness. This positivity also draws in people who want to experience similar positivity in their lives.
6. Choose three things to be grateful for every day
We all have many things to be grateful for in life. If you want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, it’s important to express gratitude daily, rather than on occasion.
Developing a gratitude practice of acknowledging what you’re thankful for or appreciate every day, will expand its value.
Start with writing down or saying three things you’re grateful for or appreciate every day, even if you’ve had a bad day. This could be by writing in a notebook, a gratitude journal or on post it notes.
It could be just sitting down with loved ones and everyone states three things they’re grateful for.
How it happens doesn’t matter. The repeated process of expressing gratitude every day is what matters most.
This might seem strange or difficult at first, but you’ll notice after a few days and weeks it gets easier to identify and express gratitude for those three things you’re grateful for.
7. Surround yourself with grateful people
If you want to develop an attitude of gratitude start by surrounding yourself with people who have a gratitude mindset.
When you surround yourself with people who focus on gratitude your own gratitude and appreciation will grow. You will feel happier, more positive, more energised and more motivated.
Conversely, if you spend lots of time with negative people or people with a scarcity mindset, you’re more likely to have a similar mindset.
Find people who are grateful and appreciative and spend more time with them. Take your gratitude practice to the next level by sending handwritten letters or notes to those people saying how much you appreciate them.
8. Be intentional in the present
Developing an attitude of gratitude starts with appreciating and giving thanks for what you have and where in your life you are right now.
You can take ownership of the present moment and choose to be grateful or not.
We can choose to be optimistic and positive about the present and the future or not.
When you are grateful for your present, you can reframe how you think about what’s important right now. And what you want to be important in the future.
Instead of being negative about failures, the past or what you haven’t achieved, you reframe everything to a focus on what you have and what you’ve achieved.
When you feel gratitude, anger, guilt, self-pity and envy dissipates. They are replaced by self-confidence, positivity and excitement.
When we feel thankful we can take the decisions, communications and actions to create the bigger future we want.
Living in the present moment, and being intentional about that moment, can transform your life.
9. Change your thinking
When you commit to a daily gratitude practice your mindset and thinking changes. As you are actively appreciating things that matter, you get more insight on what’s really important to you and others.
This gives you a chance to pause and think about your thinking. You get to understand why things are important, why something is valuable to you and why certain people are important.
We get to understand why we appreciate certain things rather than others. We get to see the positive effect of our gratitude on others.
When we practice active gratitude we aren’t being reactive. We are choosing to do something.
This choice happens because we want to do it, and because we understand why we want to do it.
As Dan Sullivan, Founder of Strategic Coach, says “When you think about your thinking, you identify all sorts of better ways to think about things, better things to spend your time thinking about, and better things to focus your energy on.”
The next time you express gratitude for something, ask yourself “Why is that thing or person so important” and “What difference does expressing gratitude make?”.
You will start getting insights that make your gratitude practice even more powerful.
It’s never too late to start cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
What are you grateful for? Give thanks for whatever that is every single day. Life is beautiful. Take the time to stop and appreciate it. Gratitude has the power to transform your entire life.