Gratitude is having an awareness of all the goodness, the positivity, the abundance that is in our life this very minute. It’s not about having objects, like a car or a new pair of Nike trainers. It’s more about the things that have a greater potential to improve the quality of our life. The people who are close to us, who invest their time and their love, who believe in us. The warm meal on the kitchen table that we are about to enjoy, a delicious slice of hot bread straight out of the oven, and a tall glass of water to drink. The sun that, after a night of thunderstorms and heavy rain, slowly peeks out from behind the clouds on a cool spring morning.
Gratitude is about saying thank you for all that.
Not just today, or for special occasions, or when you receive a gift, or when you’re in a good mood. You should incorporate it into your day. Every day. That’s the only way you will notice a shift in your attitude — towards the world around, events that happen in your community, and people who you interact with on a regular basis, from friends to coworkers to lovers.
I believe that saying thank you every day increases the quality of our life. Here’s why.
- Gratitude rewires your brain to think about positive things. These things are the ones that you do have going for you. Think about them instead of obsessing about the things you don’t have that can leave you feeling frustrated and unhappy.
- It helps you to see life as plentiful instead of empty. This is very, very important because it’s a shift in your mindset. It’s like that English saying that you can see the glass as half-empty or half-full. It’s up to you.
- It allows you to identify all the things you currently have. They can be pleasant experiences, family and friends, memories, pockets of happy moments, laughter your shared with someone, your personal strengths, your skills, and even knowledge about a certain topic or subject.
- It helps you avoid the negative feelings about your life. These feelings can include anxiety, overwhelm, even unhappiness and feelings or failure.
- It creates a positive tone to your day. Think of it as background music, a personal soundtrack to your life which can impact your attitude towards life in general.
There are 3 simple ways for starting to practice gratitude in your life.
- Do it early. When you start your day with gratitude, you will feel the effects throughout the day. Take a few minutes when you wake up and before you start getting ready for work or school. Give yourself some quiet time to focus on what you want to say. You might want to close your eyes while you think about it, or maybe you’ll want to write your thoughts down in a journal, or you’ll want to say them out loud.
- Start small. Focus only on 3 things you are grateful for today. It can be the simplest of things — having a warm bed to sleep in; a roof over your head; a family member, friend or partner who you trust; food in your fridge; a dog or cat; an education that will help you become independent.
- Be specific. If it’s that one person you’re grateful for having in your life, emphasize which of their qualities you are grateful for — they’re generous, kind, smart, funny, creative, honest, etc. If it’s having your own room, point out why this is important to you — you can have quiet time in the evening to relax and sleep undisturbed. If it’s being part of a community, emphasize how being around people makes you feel and think of one pleasant moment you recently shared together.
Wherever you are sitting as you read this, I want to say thank you for devoting a few minutes of your day to these lines. I hope they’ll inspire you to start this small habit. It’s made a world of difference to me.