In a world where the best lighting for a selfie can become the biggest stressor of our day, it’s easy to get caught up in the nonsensical areas of life and forget our blessings. Gratitude has the power to change our lives just by changing our perception and focus.
Have you ever traveled to a third world country and met so many happy locals, confused as to what they were happy about? Working 12 hour days, not making much money, non-modern houses with very little amenities, etc. Maybe they invite you to their home and they don’t have a proper flushing toilet. You need to pour water into it first and the bathroom is smaller than your walk-in closet. You think, I could never live like that. Yet the person seems to live blissfully and content. Why do you think this is? Gratitude!
There was one native of Belize I met that was working in the tourism industry on Caye Caulker. He lived in the states for several years yet came back. Upon asking why he returned he replied, “I love my country and there are so many things to be appreciative of here.”
The benefits of practicing gratitude are plentiful but some of the main benefits are improved relationships, better health physically and psychologically, enhanced empathy, improved sleep, reduced stress, and even improved self-esteem. In the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, a 2014 study found that gratitude enhanced athletes self esteem which in turn enhanced their performance.
Need more proof? Robert Emmons is a leading researcher for gratitude and has done multiple studies on the relationship between well-being and gratitude. Through his research he has confirmed that gratitude reduces depression and increases happiness.
So, this is great, but how do we implement gratitude? Well, I’m glad you asked…or that I asked for you. There are several simple yet effective ways to practice gratitude. They may not seem like much at first, but the more consistent you are in your practices the more the effects will compound and practicing gratitude will become simple nature.
1. Have a gratitude journal
If you have a morning ritual where you already journal, this will be a breeze to add in. Essentially, just grab a journal and either in the morning or evening, write down 5-10 things you are grateful for. This could be as simple as someone smiling at you or your dog giving you unconditional love.
To make this exercise powerful try to get really specific and feel into it. How does it feel if you say I’m grateful for my friend vs I’m grateful that my friend is a great listener for when I need to vent. See the difference?
2. Have an item in your purse/wallet
Whether it’s a shell you picked up on your last vacation or a pretty colored piece of paper, grab something you don’t often see and place it somewhere that you will have the opportunity to come across it every day, like your purse. Whenever you come across that item, it should prompt you to take a second to think of something you are grateful for.
3. Start saying thank you more
This is just basic manners but if you are not already saying, “thank you,” start now. It demonstrates gratitude to others and is a reminder to be grateful for the moment.
Those Christmas cards that most people throw out? You may think, why did they even bother sending this? Instead, I encourage you to give them a call or write a note back thanking them for thinking of you. If you already say, “thank you,” regularly, try saying it with more intent next time so you are more in the moment rather than having it roll off your tongue second nature.
4. Perform random acts of kindness
Whether you tell the check-out girl at Trader Joes that the pink shade of her shirt really suits her, you pay for the person behind you in the Starbuck’s drive through, or you even just hold open the door for someone going into the gym, random acts of kindness can help improve your vibe and mindset. Doesn’t it feel good to be nice? Practice being grateful that you have the opportunity to brighten someone’s day.
5. Have a mantra to start your day
It’s all too easy to start having your mind run 90 miles a minute when you wake-up dreading all the tasks you need to complete and wondering if your presentation is good enough and if the car is going to start this cold morning, etc. By having a morning mantra that is positive, it helps start your day off on the right foot. Whitney Simmons, a Youtube and Instagram influencer in the fitness and beauty industry, is known for practicing the mantra, “It’s a beautiful day to be alive.”
Have you tried any of these tips before? Everyone operates differently so a mantra may work better than journaling for you or vice versa or maybe they all work for you. Let me know how you practice gratitude in the comments. I hope you all have a wonderful day and thank you for reading!