• 5 Ways to Live a Life of Gratitude

    5 Ways to Live a Life of Gratitude

    We all know it is important to be grateful, but the problems of daily life can make that a real challenge sometimes. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate and maintain a grateful attitude in everyday life.

    Start a Gratitude Journal

    Journaling of all types can be very beneficial. A gratitude journal is simply a journal in which you record the things for which you are grateful. Making these gratitude lists is reminiscent of the Christian hymn, Count Your Blessings, which encourages us to name our blessings “one by one.” It is important to regularly make contributions to the journal so that when you are feeling down, discouraged, or just ungrateful, you have wealth of examples to help turn your attitude around.

    Use Visual Reminders

    For many of us, visual reminders keep us focused throughout the day. Visual reminders include pictures and sayings placed strategically so that we are reminded of their lessons during times we ordinarily would not be thinking about it. Examples would include: refrigerator magnets, computer screen savers, key chains, etc.

    There are different ways to approach using visual reminders for increasing gratitude. If you are motivated best by positive thoughts and images, create visual reminders that highlight people, things, and concepts for which you are grateful. For example, keep pictures of your family on your desk or a statue of a bald eagle if you are grateful for your freedom. Even the words, “Be grateful,” on a screen saver can spark positive feelings. While most of us are best motivated by positive images, a few are more moved by the negative or darker side of life. In this case, pictures of those who suffer can foster gratitude by reminding the viewer of how much they really have.

    Attach a New Habit to an Old One

    A great way to establish a new habit is to attach it to a healthy habit you have already mastered. Follow up brushing your teeth with being grateful for your health. Try changing up your pre-meal prayer and express gratitude for more than just your food. Make counting your blessings part of your daily to do list.

    Be Giving

    People who regularly give back to their communities often do so out of a sense of gratitude for what has been done for them. If one is trying to foster gratitude, one way to do so is by doing what grateful people do: give. This may mean giving financially, but it can also mean giving of your time or your talent. Giving is good for us all by itself, but when we are giving we also gain greater insight as to how blessed we are and that can help build a sense of gratitude.

    Say It Loud!

    Your mother taught you to say “thank you” whenever someone gives you something, but if you want to nurture gratitude, be intentional about sharing your thanks. Don’t simply say “Thank you” because it is good manners. Think about why you are saying it. Use the person’s name if you know it. Verbalize what exactly has made you grateful. When picking up coffee in the morning, for example, say “Thanks, Mike. This is great coffee,” as opposed to just saying “Thanks.” Now your own mind is focused on how great the coffee is and Mike is feeling good that he provided something you really enjoyed. Just saying “Thanks” out of habit does not have the same benefits.

    All of the ideas above have one thing in common: intention. Gratitude does not develop naturally. It takes action on our part. Creating a sense of gratitude in daily life requires intentional effort on a daily basis. It may not be easy, but is it possible and it is worth it.

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