We all have very busy and complex lives filled with a mixture of joy, stress, love, anger, worry and many other emotions, situations and difficulties. All too often the difficulties and negative emotions take up allot of our mental space, clouding out many of the things we should be grateful for.
If we allow ourselves to take a moment and really think about all the things in our day to day and wider life that we can be grateful for, the list really can become endless. Initially, the larger things will come to mind like the love of your family, your new job, your house, your pets etc., however, there are also a magnitude of smaller items and actions that happen each day that we should be grateful for. Some examples are the train that got you to work on time, the nice lady that smiled at you when you ordered your coffee, or your umbrella for keeping your hair dry in the rain.
By taking the time to practise gratitude, we might surprise ourselves about how much we already have. The media is always promoting what we don’t have and what we should be striving for, the bigger house, the better paid job, the slimmer body and it goes on and on and on. However, when we take a moment to reflect, we might see that we already have what we need to be content and feel loved, and all the other things don’t’ really matter. While it’s still important to have goals, gratitude reduces the feeling that we need to achieve them to feel happy or worthy. There are also many other benefits of having an attitude of gratitude, please see picture below:
Gratitude can also help us cope with difficult times, as it helps us to focus on what is holding and supporting us at that time rather than what is causing us to feel stuck or in pain. This is a great way to help us bring the situation into perspective. Gratitude can be endless and the joy you feel practising gratitude can be endless too.
Below are five tips on how you could start cultivating more gratitude in your life:
- Tomorrow try noticing your world from a point of gratitude and you will be amazed at all the things you have taken for granted. From your comfortable shoes that protect your feet, your refreshing water that keeps you hydrated, to the support and good humour of your work colleagues.
- Try keeping a gratitude journal. Just simply note down each day a few things that you are grateful for from your day. It could be in a small paper journal or there are several gratitude journal phone apps you can download.
- Next time you notice yourself focusing on the negative of a situation or person i.e. my colleague is really pushing their ideas in this meeting, switch your focus to a more positive focus i.e., at least that shows that they are passionate about the work we are doing.
- Try and give at least one compliment daily, whether it is directly to another person or by sharing your appreciation of something with them i.e. “Thank you for making me such a nice cup of coffee” or “Isn’t the sound of the birds so lovely this morning?!”.
- Next time you find yourself in a difficult or stressful situation, try to ask yourself “What can I learn from this situation?”, “Once this situation has passed and I am able to look back over it what might I be grateful for?”.
Integrating some of these steps into your life will not only help to increase your level of gratitude in your day to day life, it will also help to strengthen your relationships, reduce your stress levels, improve your health and overall, support you to live a happier life.