You might think that being grateful is a state of mind, a zone that you live in without much effort. “I am grateful,” you think. But what do you do to create an attitude of gratitude in your heart every day?
We’ve all know the guy (or gal!) who has a great job, lives in a big house, and has all his needs taken care of – yet he thinks his life is rotten and each day is filled with burden after burden. “FML” he posts on Facebook, bemoaning his miserable existence. He complains endlessly about First World problems, and focuses on the negative: traffic, health scares, and the wrinkles that are appearing on his face.
If you’re lucky, you also know the person whose life seems infused with joy – despite the fact that she also deals with the traffic, health scares, and the wrinkles on her face. Her apartment is small, her car isn’t a slick ride, and her job is unstable to say the least – but she always seems at peace, even as she strives for a better life.
One thing is certain: whether a person thinks that they’ve got it good or got it bad – has nothing to do with what they’ve got.
So what makes the difference between these two types of people? It’s the attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude takes practice – and cultivating it is a worthy endeavor, bestowing numerous health benefits as well as happiness upon the faithful practitioner. Saying “thank you” is only the beginning. Try adopting a few of these ideas, and learn how to practice gratitude.
Six Steps to Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
1. Start each day by naming ten things you are grateful for. Count out loud or in your head, it doesn’t matter. It’s okay if the same things pop up every morning, and you can certainly count higher than ten (with a bonus of extra time in bed). If you forget – just do it later in the day.
2. Create a gratitude journal. Not a morning person? At the end of each day, jot down what you were thankful for in the previous 24 hours. Use a calendar to help you keep track.
3. Counter bitchiness with gratitude. When you do tend to get upset? Sitting in traffic? In line at the DMV? On hold with an automated system? Identify situations that trigger your inner bitch, and the next time she comes out – immediately counter your negative thought (or words) with a statement of gratitude. For example: Why are you driving like a complete idiot?!? – What a beautiful blue car. You’ll find yourself laughing – at yourself – and your negative feelings will dissipate.
4. Tell the people whom you love and appreciate that you love and appreciate them. Not once, but on a regular basis. Mark your calendar if you have to. In fact, send a text right now.
5. Do the dinner circle. At meals, go around the table and let everyone say something that they are grateful for. Many families do this at Thanksgiving – but why not every night?
6. Say “thank you” for mundane tasks. Does your husband always take out the trash? Does your wife make coffee for you every morning? Did your kid finish her homework without any complaining? Say thank you. Don’t take these mundane, boring tasks for granted – or worse, come to expect theme. Express your appreciation in words, with hugs and kisses as a bonus.
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