What do you have to be grateful for? Take a moment and think about it. Having an attitude of gratitude has now become a practice. A good one, too. One that can make you profoundly more happy according to Derrick Carpenter, MAPP, who coaches individuals on living engaged and inspired lives. He cited other benefits of practicing gratitude, including having more positive emotions, feeling more alive, sleeping better, expressing more compassion and kindness, and even having stronger immune systems, (happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-gratitude). The research on the benefits of practicing gratitude is mounting everyday.
So what is this practicing gratitude all about? It is really making a commitment to being thankful for what you have everyday. You can do this in many different ways, but for the most part, it is looking at the glass as half full instead of half empty. You would be amazed at what you can be grateful for.
Recently, I was in a place where the air quality was not so great. In fact, I got a bit nauseous from it. When I got back to the fresh cold air of Minnesota, I took deep breaths and luxuriated in how great that felt. Think about it, how wonderful it is to be able to breathe. If you ever have had a respiratory illness or know of someone who has asthma and/or other breathing problems and watch them struggle to breathe, you can understand the glory of being able to take a deep breath.
Then the other simple things you can be grateful for. Do you have a shelter, food, medicine? Are you warm and out of the cold? How about warm water coming out of a faucet? I am grateful for indoor plumbing everyday.
People who have lived without these things can relate to the benefits of these simplistic pleasures of breathing, being safe, and hot showers. However, human nature or our ego always seems to gravitate to lack. Instead of looking at all the things that we have our minds seem to always wander back to what we don’t have. Many of us, even if we have comfort, still look for what is missing. Somebody is rude to us in line or cuts us off in traffic and it encompasses our every thought. Human nature tends to focus on what is negative in our lives. Actually this is a protective mechanism built into us to alert us about threats and danger. This is why if you want to learn gratitude, it has to become a practice which will eventually become a habit. So how does a person practice gratitude if you are not inclined to be that way?
A gratitude journal has been recommended as a great place to start. Basically, you just write down one thing a day you are grateful for. I have also heard of people writing on slips of paper and putting them in a jar and dumping them out at the end of the year and reading them. If you are not inclined to write here are some other suggestions of how to incorporate gratitude into your life.
1. Focus on what you have, what strengths you bring into the world.
2. Find some way to keep track of what you are grateful for and review it often.
3. Be thankful when you learn something new.
4. Visit someone who is lonely or isolated.
5. Practice gratitude at the same time every day to make it a habit.
6. Visit your grandchildren and make sure they know you love them.
7. Practice smiling more often, for no reason.
8. Live in the moment, savoring every minute.
9. Eliminate gossip from your life.
10. Write a card to someone you haven’t seen in a while and tell them something nice.
11. Look for ways to find something nice to compliment people you meet.
12. Commit to one day a week when you won’t complain about anything.
13. Watch videos or TV shows that make you happy.
14. Limit negative media including endless news that brings you down.
15. Include an act of kindness in your life each day.
16. Say thank you for the little things your loved ones do for you, things you normally take for granted.
17. Say thank you for your food before you eat it.
18. Help someone or pay it forward once in a while.
19. Be grateful for people who help you.
20. Post quotes and images that remind you to be grateful around your house.
21. Vow to do a kind act or send someone a blessing everyday.
Derrick Carpenter, author of The Science Behind Gratitude (and How It Can Change Your Life) had some additional tips to help us remember to be grateful. These included the following.
Freshen up your thanks
The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you’re grateful for every day. Opening your eyes to more of the world around you can deeply enhance your gratitude practice. Make a game out of noticing new things each day.
Get real about your gratitude practice
Being excited about the benefits of gratitude can be a great thing because it gives us the kick we need to start making changes.
Make Thankfulness Fun By Mixing It Up
Don’t limit yourself—if journaling is feeling stale, try out new and creative ways to track your grateful moments.
Be Social About Your Gratitude Practice
Focusing our gratitude on people instead of circumstances or material things. Write a gratitude letter to someone who had an impact on you whom you’ve never thanked properly. You could also share the day’s grateful moments around the dinner table. The conversations that follow may give you even more reasons to give thanks.
Incorporating daily gratitude in your life is a practice worth considering. Regardless of your circumstances, everyone has something to be grateful for. Making it a conscious effort to focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have is bound to make your life better. You will change how you think about life, which will change how you feel and how you respond to others. This will give you more positive interactions with others which will increase your self esteem and your happiness. Perhaps it may even mend some relationships that have been in discord. It all begins with practice and having an attitude of gratitude.