Gratitude is often correlated with high levels of happiness, as it births patience, perspective, and understanding. We all try to be more thankful for what we have, but unfortunately this idea slips between our fingers on a daily basis. Need a solution? Look no further– below are 5 unconventional ways to be more grateful!

1. Wish for what you already have

This weird trick works magic, no kidding! Wishing for what you already have allows you to be more aware of and thankful for the things you usually take for granted.

According to the tendencies of the hedonic treadmill, people constantly feel the need to stay in the loop. Once you satisfy your luxury tooth for the next iPhone, you will once again desire something more, something even better… and so the cycle continues. Through this process, it’s not actually likely that you’d achieve the expected level of happiness– because the hedonic treadmill is a trap. In other words, stop wanting, stop wishing, stop expecting… but I’ll admit, those rules are pretty harsh. Instead, the trick is to wish for what you already have.

Case in point: Last year, I completely forgot that people receive gifts on their birthdays. So you can imagine my shock when I got presents as I turned a year older! Unlike previous years, I hadn’t been counting down the days to my birthday with a wish list in one hand and expectations in the other. From that point forward, I spent every birthday wish, every 11:11 wish, every shooting star wish… on something I already had.

Your turn: close your eyes and “wish” for a loving family, or “wish” for a home, or even “wish” for your life. Now open your eyes. It’s there, just as it has been there all along.

2. Go volunteer

People often say, “Remember the starving children in Africa.”

It’s a wake up call for sure, and it’s true and real for sure, but the effect varies. Many people will feel guilty to some extent, although it won’t make them feel much better or grateful. Even still, others may feel annoyed or simply detached because the reminder is so overused.

But there’s a way to avoid that sort of detachment, and there’s a way to grow a fresh pair of eyes. It also involves remembering the less fortunate, but it’s actually hands-on this time: volunteer.

Volunteer and actually help those people or groups in need. Through actual contact and involvement, you will experience it for yourself. Helping others is fodder for a much-needed paradigm shift, and one that will make you more thankful.

3. Remember that things could be worse

This is a mental trick that helps keep ingratitude at bay. Challenge yourself to think of a worse scenario than the one you encounter, and make it a point to repeat this process each time you experience adversity. Rather than being frustrated after misfortune, be thankful that it wasn’t something worse. Lost your wallet with $50 in it? Phew, at least you didn’t lose $100, or at least that one card with your life savings wasn’t in your wallet! Got a nose-bleed while giving a presentation in front of 20 people? At least it wasn’t in front of 2,000, or at least it wasn’t a gusher!

4. Write down your blessings

Don’t just count your blessings; write them down! By giving yourself 5 minutes every night (or morning) to jot down what you’re thankful for, you practice active mindfulness. The physical act of writing can also make you remember better, and what better way to take advantage of that fact than to write your blessings?

5. Share the attitude of gratitude

Don’t keep gratitude to yourself! Spread the love. Take the time to thank someone in your life who has made an impact on you, big or small. Sometimes it takes a physical action in order for you to realize how grateful you truly are.

Featured photo credit: Tyssul Patel via s3.amazonaws.com

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