Do not dream of possession of what you do not have: rather reflect on the greatest blessings in what you do have, and on their account remind yourself how much they would have been missed if they were not there. ~ Marcus Aurelius
Gratitude promotes happiness and rather than looking at all the things you don’t have, you look at all the things you already have and spend your time focusing on these. Along with happiness reported benefits are increased physical health, better sleep, high self-esteem, improved relationships and reduced anxiety and depression. These are all things we strive to achieve in life, so it makes sense to spend a bit of time dedicated towards gratefulness and gratitude. How can we do this? We have 9 Tips listed below for you!
Gratitude Journal. Write down 3-5 things that day that you are grateful for. It can be something big or small such as the sun shining or your child laughing. This can be done everyday or a few times a week.
Gratitude Jar. This is good as an individual or household activity. When you are feeling particularly grateful, write a note about what you are grateful for and put this in the jar. Then once a week or month or whenever you choose, you can pull out all the notes and spend time reflecting on these moments and feelings.
Golden Moments. What do you savour each day or look forward to as part of your routine? Is it watching the sunset? Getting that cup of coffee in the morning? Waking up next to your partner? Seeing the flowers as you walk down the street? What part of the day do you love and what helps to bring you into the present moment?
Acknowledgement of Self and Others. Simply saying thank you for even the smallest act can help to foster relationships. It helps you feel good and also the person you are saying thank you to. It shows that you value them and whatever they are giving you, be it their time, a meal, a gift, support, anything. It is also important to thank yourself, to acknowledge how well you are caring for yourself and how hard you are trying.
Negative Emotions. Anger, frustration and disappointment are parts of life. It can be important to vent but it is important not to resign yourself to victimhood and become complacent. Choosing to take a moment to reflect on the negative but also spend some time searching for the positives of all that you have. Remember, we are automatically programmed for negativity bias, so you have to work extra hard to find the things that you are grateful for.
Notice others bitterness or negativity but don’t let it influence your peace. When you or someone starts complaining about what they don’t have, it’s a good practice to identify this and spend a moment thinking about what they or you have already got. There are important lessons you can learn from observing others and then choosing how you do or do not want to replicate these traits.
See things as gifts. We are more likely to be grateful for something if we see it as a gift and not an expectation. This day, your life, your health, your partner, your friends, all the things occurring in your life are precious gifts that we often don’t think to appreciate. Acknowledging people and things we have as gifts helps us look at them differently and brings us greater joy.
Acts of kindness. Build gratitude around you by doing random acts of kindness for others, showing compassion, smiling at strangers, helping others out. Doing good, helps us to feel good too. Small, daily, unexpected acts towards others can help to foster relationships, build connectivity and help you feel more grateful towards yourself and others.
Think of death. Sounds pretty morbid – but if today was your last day on earth what would you be grateful for? Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think … When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Keeping that in mind, it helps to bring us to the present and to be grateful for life, for the pure act of breathing fresh air, to spend time with our families, to run on the grass, to swim in the sea. All these gifts that surround us.
Once we start practicing gratefulness it is easy to start applying in day-to-day situations. At first it might seem like a task but eventually it becomes second nature. When we start doing this it becomes easier to catch negativity in ourselves and others and lets us positively reframe our circumstances. This helps us to come from a place of abundance, rather than a place of emptiness, which leads to greater fulfilment and feelings of contentedness.