Does the following sound somehow familiar to you: I used to get caught up easily ranting about negative stuff rather than talking about the good happening in my life. But why is that? Well mostly, because we tend to take all the good stuff for granted. Only when that is suddenly taken away from us (e.g. let's say we injure ourselves or face a health issue), we start to care. Instead of appreciating even little positive events by practicing gratitude, we often focus on irrelevant and stupid things and let them drag us down. It's a vicious circle and it doesn't only harm you but also everybody close to you.
How to practice gratitude
Learning to practice gratitude is an amazing and surprisingly simple way out of this funk: Take a deep breath and remind yourself to enjoy the little things in life. Never forget that there are others out there less fortunate than you. Feel grateful.
Say 'Thank You!' more often. It means that you recognize and acknowledge the kind people, gifts, blessings, etc. coming into your life and appreciate them. Here's a couple of examples for things to be grateful for and how to express your gratitude for them:
...Through interaction with others
Did someone something nice for you lately? Has your partner surprised you with flowers? Has your colleague brought you coffee, because you were too 'in the middle of something' to get up from your desk? Return the favor and make someone smile today! Give something back. How about you buy the friendly beggar, who's sitting at the same corner each day a sandwich? Tell someone in your life how special he or she is to you and how much you appreciate him or her being in your life!
...When you're alone
I'm also a big fan of saying 'Thank You!' out loud from time to time to no one in particular, just when I'm by myself observing my surroundings. When I look up to the horizon (which btw a lot of us don't, we somehow only focus on our immediate 5 meter radius) and see pretty white little clouds, or notice some flower blooming, I feel thankful. And we can increase this feeling by expressing our gratitude loudly (if you don't want to scare anybody, make sure you're alone).
Have you tried Journaling?
Another great possibility is writing a gratitude journal. There's so many different options on how to do that (see more on this in the link roundup below). However, it doesn't need to be complicated, there's no rules. Do what works best for you. I simply write down 3-5 things I'm grateful for first thing in the morning when I open my notebook/bullet journal. Things I mention are e.g. if I had a very good sleep, if there are pretty clouds visible from my desk (you see I love clouds :)), if I had a nice and deep conversation the day before, if I had the opportunity to spend more time outside or with my loved ones, if I had time to cook something nice... You get the idea. Also, I often write down, that I'm thankful for being healthy or for recovering well from an illness or injury.
There's so many ways how to practice gratitude and none is overly complicated 🙂 It's mostly about implementing a mind shift and sticking to it.
My most beloved inspiration to read, listen to, watch and create about "How to practice gratitude" - enjoy!
- Read this: 'Gratitude: The Antidote for Painful Feelings and Fuel for Happiness'. If you don't have a gratitude practice incorporated into your daily life yet, this article is a great start. It'll teach you in an accessible way to be grateful for the little things and joys in life. Once you found a routine that works best for you and practice being grateful on a regular basis, you'll feel more grounded and happier over time... even on a really bad day.
- Listen to this: 'A Moment Apart' by ODESZA. I can't help it, this song inspires me so much. I suddenly feel the urge to create something as soon as I listen to it and a lot of positive emotions start surfacing. Stare into the sky, observe the clouds or any other natural event - You can start with your gratitude practice right here.
- Watch this: 'Justin Baldoni - Why I'm done trying to be "man enough"'. OMG. This TED Talk was published in November 2017 and has gone viral since. Apart from being extremely handsome, Justin Baldoni has a great deal more to offer to the world. He doesn't shy away from speaking out about everything that's wrong with gender stereotypes in today's society and his own challenges living up to being a better man, husband and father. He's an outspoken feminist, social entrepreneur and actor.I first saw him on Netflix as one of the main characters in the telenovela 'Jane The Virgin'. This series is hilarious by the way, if you're looking for something to binge on the next weekend, go check it out. I'm grateful that men like him exist. Eager to redefine what masculinity and femininity actually mean, and who decide to stand up for their beliefs over and over again.
- Create this: 'Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal'. Learning how to be more grateful in life and thus happier can be achieved easier by keeping a gratitude journal. This insightful article explains the habit of keeping one and gives advice on how to get started.
What's your ritual? How do you practice gratitude? If you're looking for practical ways on how to be more mindful in your daily routine and practice gratitude, I’ve put together what I call ‘The ultimate beginner’s guide to a mindful lifestyle’ incl. a 30 day planner to keep track on your habits. Download it for free now 🙂