How To Practice Gratitude
Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Gratitude is a beautiful quality to have because people who practice this behaviour have increased mental strength and improved psychological health. Showing gratitude can benefit you in many ways and change your outlook on life. Read these 70 quotes and check out these ten ways that you can practice gratitude today.
1. Make A Gratitude Journal
This is a personal favorite of mine, as writing is one of my hobbies. Keeping a written log of what you are grateful for can give you a constant reminder of what you are blessed with. At the end of each day, you can write what you are thankful for. This can be our health, having friends, and a bed to sleep in among other things. Not only can you always remind yourself that there are always things that you can give thanks for, but there are many benefits that you can get from choosing to write. Writing helps you think bigger, stay sharp and ease the mind.
Perhaps more beneficial than anything else is that memory improves with writing. There has been adequate research done to suggest that pen to paper makes it easier for people to remember pertinent information. This way, you’ll be much more likely to remember what you are grateful for. So, grab a pen or pencil, grab a notebook and write down daily reminders for your sake. This will be a behavior that can pay dividends for your mental health later on. Gratitude journals also have research to back up how happy you can be as a result of keeping a gratitude journal.
Dr. Robert Emmons and his team conducted a study at the University of California, and they found significant improvements across the board when people utilized gratitude journals. Participants were asked to write down five things that they were thankful for in the past week. This group was found to be more optimistic and active in exercise while having fewer health issues. Dr. Emmons made the conclusion that those who practice gratitude not only feel good but are motivated to do good. While this is one individual study, the benefits of practicing gratitude in a practical way can have tremendous advantages.
2. Give Daily Compliments
It is always better to give than to receive. There probably isn’t anything better than receiving a compliment. It makes us feel good inside and provides affirmation of positive qualities we have within ourselves. Dishing out compliments can prove to be just as satisfying. These compliments can be directly about a person or merely sharing your appreciation of something. If you see an opportunity to make someone else’s day, or just to remind yourself that you are grateful for something out in the open, that can be a great way to express gratitude. Did your friend just get a new hairstyle? Tell them that it looks lovely. Did a family member just get a big job promotion? Give them your congratulations and let them know how proud you are of them. A study conducted in 2012 suggested that receiving a compliment could potentially have the same effect as receiving cash. This was all based on how similar the brain processes these two feelings.
When it comes to compliments, there are some things to consider. If you are going to compliment somebody, be genuine and do it without the expectation of reciprocity. False praise is easy to recognize, and you can undermine your trustworthiness in the process. Next, be as specific as possible. Vague compliments might as well be empty statements. For example, if somebody re-did their living room, mention the specific changes that caught your attention. Besides, do not give any back-handed compliments. In other words, don’t phrase anything as a compliment masquerading as an insult. You could instantly brighten one’s day with a simple good thing said about them. So, when you’re out in public next time, give it a try!
There aren’t a lot of better ways to practice gratitude than to give back to your local community. Not only does volunteer work look great on a job resume, but volunteer work also provides you with a much bigger perspective on life. So often we may complain every day about the things that we don’t have, but then if you were to offer your services at a soup kitchen, cleaning up public areas or other lines of work, you’d see how much we do have when compared to others. Studies have shown that volunteering to help others can boost our well-being, and in turn, our gratitude. Further studies have shown that people who volunteer more often tend to have lower mortality rates, greater functionality and lower rates of depression.
Volunteering your time and helping others may also be something they will remember for the rest of their lives. They’ll remember that in spite of their current state, you chose to take time out of your day to help them. Simply put, helping others can help you. Whatever little you may think you have could be a lot to others. Gratitude can be significantly shown by paying it forward. If you ever come across an opportunity to spend your free time and volunteer in society without expecting something in return, it will do you a lot of good. There is no shortage of areas in which you could potentially make a big impact wherever you live. Whether it is by cleaning up sidewalks or merely giving back to the needy, paying it forward has its just rewards.
4. Spend Time With Loved Ones
We all have people that we like to keep close. If there’s one thing that we can be grateful for, it is having friends and family that genuinely care about us. It will help you grow closer, strengthen your bond and is an excellent way to practice gratitude. You can begin by finding out if there are things that you can help them with. If that doesn’t apply, then just spending quality time can go a long way. You couldn’t begin to imagine how many people may wish that they have people to sit down and talk to. Not everybody has the luxury of going out with friends every Saturday or even talking with their family because they are gone. Not only should you be grateful for the people in your life, but you should be thankful for the opportunity that you may have to get closer to them.
No matter who you are, or where you are from, we all at least have some family. Unfortunately, many grow up in single-parent households, foster care, or rough upbringings that make it difficult for them to form any relationship with family or friends. We may take a mom and dad for granted, but we only get one set of parents in this lifetime, which is why we cannot take having family lightly. Friends can be just as important as well because they are our support system. If you are looking to expand your ways of practice gratitude, remind your friends and family that you care about them. You could even offer to take out people you don’t even know well. This could be co-workers or friends you may think are feeling alone. They will appreciate the gesture greatly and may do the same thing for you in the future when you need it. More time with those you consider close to you can also benefit your health in the long-term.
5. Take a Walk
Personally, there is nothing better than waking up early in the morning to the aroma of clean-cut grass, fresh air, clear skies, and silence. Not only is taking walks good for your cardiovascular health, but it can also provide an excellent opportunity for reflection. Also, walking has proven to be beneficial to your mental health. Your coordination, mood, and balance all remain stable while stress levels may decrease.
It can be difficult at times to be grateful if one area confines you. Going outside and being active in the surrounding environment can broaden your horizons and make you thankful for the big world that you live in. You may even come across certain things that you previously didn’t think you could be grateful for.
It can be challenging to have a genuine attitude of gratefulness staying inside the home because you are limiting what you can be grateful for, at least with your vision.
If you happen to come across some free time, and the weather is perfect for walking, take the opportunity, spend about 15 minutes and just take a walk around the neighborhood. Give a hearty good morning to your neighbors. Embrace the world around you, as it will help you gain a broader perspective on life.
6. Keep A Gratitude Jar
Keeping things practical, having a gratitude jar is something that can remind you of the many things you can be grateful for. Thankfully, this is a straightforward exercise. All you need to do is an adequately-sized container and label it accordingly. Every day, take something that you can be grateful for. This can literally be anything. From the clothes on your back to the bed that you sleep in, there are many things you could be thankful for. Just write it down, and place it in. Before you know it, if you’re able to add to the gratitude jar day by day, you’ll see it grow. You’d be surprised at what it can reach after a while. It would also show, once again, that there is always something that you can find gratitude in.
This can also correspond with some other suggestions on this list, especially your gratitude journal. The key behind the gratitude jar is jogging your memory and ensuring that you never forget that you can find gratitude in any situation. This may not be necessary for some, but for others, a physical reminder may be required to remind us regularly. Keep this jar in a safe place, and as the months go by, you’ll see the jar get filled. You’ll then be able to look back on it during stressful periods and remind yourself there is always a way to practice gratitude.
You can even use this to help those that are less fortunate than you. Try taking some spare change that you may have and put a little bit of money in a jar. Once the coins begin to accumulate, and it reaches near the top, donate it to a charitable cause. That way, you can show your gratitude in a way that can help others. This is an easy and harmless exercise that one can use. If practicing gratitude is something that you want to do more of, here is a very simple, yet practical way to start your journey.
Facial expressions can be very powerful. If you were to study what somebody else’s expression looks like, you might be able to determine what their mood is and how they are feeling. Do it for yourself, have you considered smiling more often? It’s an easy thing to do, and there are many benefits to it that you may not be privy too. Smiling has been proven to strengthen your immune system, make you happier and more confident in yourself. However, perhaps most importantly, smiles do not cost you anything. Smiling can help to brighten another one’s day.
Many things in this life have the capacity to weigh us down. It can be tough to find joy through the pain, but the biggest weapon in your arsenal can be your attitude and approach. If you were to see things positively, nothing is out of your grasp. The first way to start your resistance to anything that can bring your mood down is to turn your frown upside down and smile your troubles away. It is not worth it to spend our time being frustrated at the world. For every sixty seconds we are angry, we lost a minute of happiness. Do not let hate and anger fill your precious time.
8. Say “Thank You”
We often forget these two simple words in our society, and we tend to take them lightly. If you notice that someone did you a favor, do not forget to tell them this simple phrase. The words “thank you” are practically the entire definition of gratitude in of itself. So why not say it more often? Tell your family and friends “thank you” every day. Even if they did not do anything for you, simply uttering this phrase can strengthen your relationships. You could say “thank you” for being themselves. This can go beyond your inner circle and loved ones, by the way. This can also apply to public servants.
When you get off your last stop on the bus, quickly give a word of thanks to the bus driver that got you to your destination safely. Be grateful for the cashier that rings up your large order. Say “thank you” to the crossing guard who guides you safely across the street. Be courteous to the man who pumps the gas in your car. There are many people you could say these two words to, and it could potentially make their day. So many people are left unappreciated because they don’t do things that are grandiose acts. However, you can remind them that they are important by verbally showing your gratitude. They will absolutely remember the courtesy that you showed towards them for doing so. Never turn up your chin at the opportunity to say “thank you,” and who knows? They could pay it forward right back towards you.
9. Send Love To Your Enemies
There is no doubt that this will probably be the most challenging thing that one can do on this list. Sending love to your enemies? Why should you send any form of gratitude or love towards people who may wish me harm, or doesn’t show me the same courtesy? I understand that this can be a hard thing to do, and you may even be justified in not sending love to those who don’t love you. However, the essence of gratitude is that it does not matter whom you give it to, and we can give it to anyone for free. First, define to yourself what constitutes an enemy. Is it somebody that you frequently argue with? Is it a nasty co-worker? Can it be your demanding supervisor? Whoever may it be, how about you wish your enemy well instead of wasting energy in another fight?
One of the underlying assumptions we make about people we don’t necessarily have a healthy relationship with is that their personality is based on what we see from them. We characterize people and assign labels based on our interactions and analysis of their behavior every day. Despite that, we never know what is indeed going on in that person’s world. Have you considered that maybe they had a rough upbringing? Or perhaps they may have just lost somebody close to them, and the resulting anger is just them releasing their frustration? Never judge somebody or make assumptions. Instead, the next time you see them, keep a calm demeanor and wish them well. You may not think it, but they will notice that you took the high ground and didn’t invite another conflict or confrontation. Instead, when you realized that another fight was about to brew, they were taken off guard with your kind words or gestures.
Meditation is a powerful weapon that we have at our disposal, and we don’t even recognize it. It takes you some concentration and focus. You do not even have to do anything other than just sitting down and forcing your brain to work and think about it. Meditating is to engage in contemplation and reflection, and if you’re looking for ways to be grateful, what better way to do that then to look back on things you can be thankful for. Going through the hustles of everyday life, it seems as if we do not have time for everything that we want to do. Besides, the quick pace that time flows by also makes us tend to forget what we can be grateful for on the way. That is why occupying our free time productively can be such a valuable thing to do.
Early in the morning, before you go to bed, or whenever you have time throughout the day, just close your eyes in a quiet place and form images in your head that can make you feel grateful. Think about your friends. Your provisions, your education, your health. Think about everything that you have that benefits you and use it to motivate you to continue to be grateful. There is always something that one may have that another may covet heavily. Again, this requires little energy and focuses your brain on working. Like a lot of other things here, this provides you with an abundance of health benefits.
Meditation has been shown to reduce stress while increasing self-awareness. Above anything else, intense meditation puts your mind at ease and allows you to concentrate on what is important to you. Allow yourself time to meditate on what is essential, and your mood will instantly increase.
As you can see, there are many ways in which you could practice gratitude every single day, and they can be done in both private or public. A life well lived is typically one that has a lot of appreciation. These are not the only ways in which you can practice this trait, but it is a start. As you continue on your path, realize that there is value in being thankful. For everything that we have today, could be gone tomorrow.