“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
We have had many posts on gratitude and appreciation here on LYG. I believe that feeling and expressing gratitude is something we might still struggle with on a daily basis. Especially if your life is not going as planned and you feel like life has thrown you a curved ball.
First off, why do we need to be grateful for things that are happening well in our life and for the future?
The answer that I give others is simple:
Gratitude makes you:
- Feel good.
- Become happy in the moment.
- Allow feel good molecules or endorphins to flood your body.
- Makes you joyous and happy now and not after achieving success or other things.
- Optimistic and hopeful for the life you have and lifts the veil of depression and sadness.
You may know through reading the latest positive psychology research that the idea of happiness is backwards. We do not become successful first, get stuff, and then become happy.
Research shows that becoming happy first and living from that point of view is more important for success.
What are some effective action practices that can enhance and sustain gratitude in your life?
This post seeks to address that question.
“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
1. Maintain a Gratitude Journal or Appreciation Log
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”― Maya Angelou
Instead of deflecting happy moments and experiences, bring them into the forefront of your life. You do this by reflecting and writing down what makes you grateful.
Do this every day and make it a practice to write out your gratitude and appreciation states and feelings. See how radically you feel better in a few weeks. Log that too. Good feelings build upon the ability to quickly recall them and feel them consistently.
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”― Maya Angelou
2. Have an Open Mind With People you Disagree with and be Appreciative of New Points of View
“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.”― Yogi Bhajan
Looking at things through the perspective and lens of others makes your life richer and your understanding greater.
While you may find it difficult to see the other point of view, even mildly appreciating that they bring something different is a good start.
You do not have to agree with others or accept what they have to say. But allowing them to speak and seeing from their point of view can give you peace and acceptance. You can then agree to disagree.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”― John F. Kennedy
3. Make Smiling a Daily Practice
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”― Marcel Proust
Smiling is a quick and easy way to allow lightness and feel the joy of the moment to permeate your consciousness
Smiles and good natured humor cost nothing and the benefits are many.
“Gratitude paints little smiley faces on everything it touches.”― Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway
4. Feel the Gratitude and Appreciation
“Whatever you appreciate and give thanks for will increase in your life.”― Sanaya Roman, Living with Joy
One of the reasons why gratitude does not work is because we have heard the catch phrase that is good to be grateful. Everyone is talking about the benefits of gratitude. In order for gratitude to work, you will have to feel it deeply in your heart.
When you say you are grateful, feel it strongly in your being and mean what you say. When what you feel, think, and do are in consonance, gratitude works miracles.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”― Epicurus
5. Reframe Those Complaints and Worries into Gratitude and Action
“The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing.”― Hannah Whitall Smith
Most of us have worries and complaints. Often we allow our worry and stress to cascade into our life and live from that perspective. Even though we have good stuff happening in our lives, we mask it with everyday stress.
If there is something in your life that you can make better, take action, make a habit and try to make it better. But reframe the worry into gratitude of what is going well in your life.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
6. Just Say Thank You
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”― Meister Eckhart
You may find it difficult to find the silver lining and see the advantages of difficulties and setbacks. In such a moment, just saying thank you is healing. It brings some much needed peace to your mind and spirit.
“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
7. Serve Others
“When you focus on gratitude, positive things flow in more readily, making you even more grateful.”― Lissa Rankin, Mind Over Medicine
When you are unable to find gratitude and appreciation, serve others. You will quickly see that everyone has unique challenges and difficulties in their own life.
In fact, you may even notice that you do not have the unique set of problems that many others have in their lives.
8. Be Grateful for your Health by Eating Well, Resting, and Moving Your Body
“Rest and be thankful.”- William Wordsworth
We take our health for granted and do not find the time to be grateful to be blessed with good health.
We do not honor the body by eating well and getting adequate exercise.
Yes, we all might have some unique health problems. You can express gratitude and appreciation for what you have by treating your body right. You can feed it nourishing food and get some movement.
9. Fill Some of Your Time with Inspiring Content and Inspiring People
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton
A quick way to fill your life with wonder, appreciation and gratitude is to seek inspiring content to watch and read.
When you seek inspiring people and seek their consul and company, you can begin to appreciate the ideas and value that they can bring to your life.
When seek to get inspired and motivated, even for short but regular periods in your life, you will see your positive energy increase.
“The essence of all beautiful art is gratitude.” –Friedrich Nietzche
10. Tell Others that you are Grateful for Them Especially the Service People and the Grocery Line Clerks
̒”Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” – Alice Walker
Many people serve us on a daily basis. The life that we all enjoy on daily basis is the effort and love of millions of people. Sometimes, these people work for wages that are not enough but they still serve you with a smile on their face and a glow in their hearts.
Thank all our service women and men, whether in uniform or in the grocery store or other places because they sacrifice a lot to be of service to the world.
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” –Dalai Lama
11. Set up Reminders Through the Day to Breathe Deeply and to Feel Gratitude
“Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first or the last time, then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” – Betty Smith
We regularly forget to be grateful and appreciative of all that is going good in our lives.
The best way to remember is to make a habit of gratitude and set up notifications on your smartphone or on post-it notes to be grateful.
“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.” — Christiane Northrup
12. Write Down 5 Things you are Grateful for and Why: the Gratitude List
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”- Melody Beattie
Make a list of only 5 things that you are grateful for today and also list the reasons why. This is different from the journal where you log in depth. This is a quick and easy way to feel gratitude.
13. Remember to be Thankful for the Setbacks and Difficulties as Rinpoches or Teachers in Disguise
“Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” – Margaret Cousins
Reframe your difficulties as learning opportunities. When you do that, you open the doors for learning from your setbacks. You open the door to learn from the mistakes in your life.
In retrospect, you will see the benefit of setbacks. You become appreciate of a particularly difficult experience because it strengthened you to face life.
14. Be Thankful for the Simple Little Things such as a Sunrise, the Abundant universe, the Raindrops
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Are you grateful for the simplest but often the most wondrous things that this abundant universe offers us?
“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” — Henry Miller
15. Write a Letter of Gratitude
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”― Voltaire
Writing a letter of gratitude to someone you have not thanked in a while is a powerful way to express your gratitude and appreciation. In puts in words what you feel in your heart and makes the other person’s day as well.
“Forget yesterday–it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow–you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift-today.” – Steve Maraboli
16. Make a Box or Jar of Gratitude
“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer
Another power gratitude idea is to make a collection of daily grateful moments and experiences.
You do not have to read your gratitude jar contents regularly but you can decide to read a few of them to inspire you when you are feeling your lowest.
17. Imagining a Life Without What We Have Taken for Granted
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
We all at some point of our lives have taken for granted what we have in our lives. But an exercise that works wonders to remember gratitude is to imagine a life without them.
Imagine a life without your favorite experiences or without the deep connections that you hold with others. Imagine that you did not have many special people to share the moments of joy.
When you see that your life is already full with great people and experiences, you will take them less for granted and thank them on a more regular basis.
“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” — Ralph H. Blum