In the mad rush of today’s fast-paced life, we often use our sense of lack to help us reach greater heights. In this melee, we tend to forget to take a breather to look around and appreciate what we already have.
Life can be considered rewarding and successful, in short, well-lived only when there is gratitude present in it.
This article offers ways to practice gratitude and thankfulness in your life.
1. Appreciate everything – big and small
You don’t need to reserve the feeling of gratefulness for the more significant matters in life. Don’t be picky. Appreciate every small event that brings you joy and positivity.
As this is not the default mode, you need to deliberately cultivate this habit of feeling thankful for everyday good happenings. Nothing is too small or inconsequential to express gratitude for.
Be it the weather helping you out with your shopping trip or the delivery person being on time or the new dish you tried that turned out to be great, don’t hesitate to feel gratitude every day.
Include and embrace the feeling of gratitude in your lives for all things great and small.
2. See challenges as opportunities
Being thankful need not be saved exclusively for positive events or only when life is smooth sailing. When the going gets tough and you encounter challenges, do not feel disheartened. Do not see them as setbacks or roadblocks that are present to rob you of peace and happiness.
Every challenge is an opportunity to learn something. In fact, overcoming challenges gives you more satisfaction and fulfillment in life than when things are perfect and life is unfolding as expected.
Challenges can bring out your hidden reserves of patience, versatility, and ability to grasp and learn new things. It can help reveal your talents, skills, and aptitude that remained invisible until now.
All these are worth feeling grateful for. Scan your life experiences for those challenges that helped you evolve into the person you are today and feel grateful for the opportunities.
3. Practice gratitude meditation
Instead of trying to empty the mind and keep it still in a regular meditation exercise, gratitude meditation involves focusing on the events of the day you feel grateful for. A kind of mindfulness practice exercise, can help you include the feeling of gratitude in your life.
You can start small by devoting 5 or 10 minutes every day to this. Think about 2-3 incidents that happened to you. Focus on one at a time and replay the event in your mind. As the feeling of gratitude fills your heart, sit with that for some time. Allow yourself to relive the happy and content state for as long as you want.
Gratitude meditation can shift your mindset and rewire your brain to perceive events from a different perspective. Instead of taking things for granted, you will feel grateful naturally. And with this change in perception, your life will be richer with more happiness, compassion, and empathy.
Once you learn gratitude and make it a habit, you will feel grateful without prompts or deliberately thinking about it.
4. Maintain a gratitude journal
Going a step further than gratitude meditation, a gratitude journal involves maintaining a record of all the things in your life that you are grateful for. You may do both exercises simultaneously. Right after you complete your meditation session, you may write them down in a journal devoted to gratitude.
The benefits of a gratitude journal are numerous. For one, writing down something helps you focus better on the topic and brings it more clarity and meaning. The act of writing itself is a step towards positivity. When you are engaged in noting down the events, your attention is fully occupied by it and it will keep the unwanted negative thoughts out. If you can play out the scene while journaling, all the better.
Another huge advantage of a gratitude journal is that it helps to jog your memory about these events. For example, when you are not feeling great, experiencing a bout of anger or depression, it would be difficult for you to entertain positive thoughts, let alone good thoughts about events in your past.
When you are feeling down or out of control, it is natural to feel that nothing good ever comes your way. At this point, it would be hard for you to make yourself think otherwise. The negative feeling would be too strong and intense for you to overcome.
Then, all you need to do is read some of the entries in the gratitude journal. It will help you remember all the happy and positive moments you had experienced in the past. Life was good before. So, it will be good in the future. The tide will turn. The present is just a temporary phase.
5. Lend a helping hand
One of the activities that will give you the most happiness is helping others without expecting anything in return. Volunteering is one of the most unselfish acts of them all.
Giving back to the community can make you realize the abundance of positive things in your life. As this realization dawns on you, you will feel thankful for the good things you have always taken for granted.
Volunteering is a win-win action. The recipient of your benevolent gesture is the obvious beneficiary. In addition, you are also benefiting from the act of volunteering. It enhances your sense of well-being and helps you view your own life from a different angle. This will help you to feel thankful for having a good life.
6. Say it out loud
When you are feeling grateful to someone, don’t hide it or let it slide. Express your thoughts and feelings openly. This can make the other person happy and in turn, make you happier.
Whenever another person or persons are involved in a happy episode in your life, let them know how you feel about them. Your feeling of gratitude for having such helpful people in your life can lift their spirits instantly. It is not every day you get thanked for something you did naturally without expectations.
As you see their faces light up when you let them know how grateful you are, you will feel happy yourself. Again, it is a win-win situation. Both beneficiary and benefactor benefit from this simple gesture.
You may express your gratitude in person, which is, of course, the best option. If this is not possible, you may write a letter or talk to the person over the phone.
7. Set aside time for the people you care
Everyone is busy in their own world and goes about life in an automated mode. What is the fun in living out such a life when you don’t have the time or inclination to appreciate others? You need to let the people you care about and the people who care about you know how much you love and appreciate being a part of their lives.
You can show your appreciation by spending more time with your loved ones. It will help you get closer to them, understand them better, and strengthen your relationship.
If you are not used to having close ties with people or even feel uncomfortable about it, you can start small with the person you feel the most comfortable with. As the bond improves, you can add more people to your close circle.
8. Be happy to feel more gratitude
Gratitude and happiness go hand in hand. One can impact the other. More gratitude translates to more happiness, more happiness means you will feel more grateful.
Find out ways to feel happier. Such as doing things you love, exercising, listening to music, reading a good book, watching your favorite show, meeting up with friends, learning something new, … the list is endless.
Even when you are focusing on positive happy memories, don’t ignore and forget the bad days and hardships you faced in the past. By assessing how far you have traveled in life, you can feel grateful and content.
If you are facing difficulty in finding things to be grateful for, you can start with being thankful every day for being alive. You can feel gratitude for your health, wealth, or just being you. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. You would be surprised that it gets longer and longer and never stops.