Practicing gratitude has been the mainstay of a successful life for many generations. It’s a lifestyle choice that has been proven itself time and again over many long-term studies.
The research has revealed that a grateful attitude creates a more abundant life with success at work, better relationships, greater health, improved sports performance, and a heightened sense of well-being, all being documented as derived benefits. Being grateful has even revealed its potential to improve recovery times after surgery.
Unfortunately, being able to see the benefits of gratitude does not mean the concept is easy to grasp and maintain. Humans have a natural tendency to put more focus on the negative aspects of life – in a glass half empty kind of way. We notice the broken, the undone, and what we don’t have rather than what we do have.
To benefit from gratitude, we must practice it every day – rather than reserve a single day of counting our blessings for just one holiday a year. Gratitude is a habit, and like most habits, it can be practiced and learned.
When you learn to be grateful for all that you do have, instead of complaining about what you think is lacking, you will find more joy in life. It’s like brushing the dust and cobwebs from a dirty window and finally letting in the light.
Gratitude is not a rose-colored glasses approach, where you ignore everything but the good stuff. Instead, it’s more like replacing the rose-tinted spectacles with lenses that have more focus.
You are still aware that life has pain and suffering but have learned not to let it flood your mind with negative thoughts. Gratitude provides a sense of balance and a way to cope with all that life has to offer – both the good and the bad.
It’s easy to find things for which you can be grateful: healthy food on the table, a loving family, loyal friends, good health, a steady paycheck, and a reliable car that gets you to work.
You could also find time to be grateful for your education, your freedom to choose, and the relative safety of your neighborhood. There is no end to the list of things for which you can be grateful. What will you put on yours?
Here are a few ways you can keep gratitude at the forefront of your mind:
- Adopt the practice of gratitude every night around the dinner table or create a routine you can go through just before bedtime, so you fall asleep with positive thoughts.
- Create a gratitude vision board and fill it with images of everything you are grateful for in your life.
- Instead of letting a challenging situation get you down, make a game of finding the hidden blessings.
- Rather than spend your time complaining and digging yourself deeper into a fouler mood, make a list of the things you should be grateful for, and see how much and how quickly your mood improves.
- Create a gratitude journal and make regular entries of the things in your life for which you can be thankful. How often you update the journal is up to you, but it can be daily, weekly, or even monthly. Although more frequency will create a stronger habit and help keep gratitude at the top of your mind.
Once you have successfully adopted a routine for searching out the positive things in your life to be grateful for, you may suddenly realize how much more content, relaxed, and hopeful you feel.
However, if you find that making gratitude a daily practice is not enough to lift your spirits, you may be suffering from depression. The good news is that help is available. Read more about counseling options here: Depression Treatment