Gratitude, being nice, thinking positively — these are all things that are easier to talk about than to practice. Being grateful is a habit that’s worth cultivating. Try out some of the following gratitude exercises and, with time, you will feel more gratitude in your everyday life.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
1. Write a daily gratitude list
Before you start your day, at the end of each day or whenever you have a spare five to ten minutes, write a list of ten things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big things — just look around you and ask yourself, in this moment, what am I grateful for? Clothes to keep me warm, a hot cup of tea, good company … ? If you do this every day, I can assure you that after a few weeks, or even days, you will feel much happier .
2. Practice mindfulness for 10 minutes a day
Try this one for at least a week. Set 10 minutes aside each day and really focus on where you are in the moment. Look around you. What do you see, feel, hear? When we live life in a strict routine, we can slip into acting on autopilot which can leave us feeling numb, ungrateful and bitter about life. Practicing mindfulness takes you out of this and helps you to see life in a brighter, more pleasant light.
3. Observe life objectively
This one is certainly easier said than done, but make a conscious effort to be as objective as possible. Is the person you work with really that annoying or are you blowing matters way out of proportion? Take a step back and try to view situations from the outside rather than taking everything personally. In the long run you’ll feel a much deeper sense of gratitude in your daily life as a result.
4. Reflect on your day before going to sleep
Before you go to sleep each night, thing about something great that happened to you in the day that just passed. Even if you think nothing amazing happened, think of something small you were grateful for. If you can’t think of anything, keep searching. Even if it’s ‘I love this pillow,” hold that thought and spend several minutes reflecting on how grateful you are, then let yourself drift peacefully to sleep.
5. Observe your thoughts for a week
What do you think about for the majority of the time? What do you spend most of your time talking to others about? Are you aware of this? A lot of the time, we drift through life with no idea where we’re putting most of our energy. Spend one week objectively observing your thoughts without judgement. You might like to write them down, then reflect on the exercise after the week is up. If you spend the majority of your time complaining, make a mental note to change your thinking habits. With time, you’ll find yourself being less negative and more objectively positive. Remember, thoughts act as affirmations when repeated enough. Be mindful of what you’re intentionally or unintentionally manifesting.
6. Replace complaints with compliments
You don’t have to go overboard with this one — after all sometimes a person just needs to vent — but next time you open your mouth to say something unconstructive or hurtful, reverse it. Aim to give a compliment a day. You’ll feel happier and more grateful.
7. Read Man’s Search for Meaning
This is the ultimate book if you want to know how to be grateful. Viktor Frankl, a world-renowned psychologist, who was trapped inside a concentration camp during WW2, helps us all to see that life is a choice and that even in the most dire of circumstances, you always have the freedom to choose your mindset. It’s a powerful book that really makes you reconsider your place in life. If you don’t feel more grateful after reading this, then I’m not sure what else to suggest.
8. Meditate on gratitude
Close your eyes. Start by focusing on your breath to calm your mind, then meditate on something you’re truly grateful for or someone you care deeply about. This could be a memory you’re glad to have had or something in the present moment — anything to bring your mind back to a state of gratitude. The key here, as with all meditation practices, is consistency . Spending five minutes meditating each day can make a big improvement in your happiness.
9. Write a gratitude letter
Write a letter expressing gratitude for someone or something that is annoying to you. Try to be grateful for what this situation is teaching you–find the lesson in it. this will help to turn your thinking process in a positive direction, and will help you to accept and learn from things you might otherwise reject.
10. Realize that gratitude is a choice
You’re in the driver’s seat of your life, and you can choose how to react and how to think. If you’re committed to positive thoughts and attitudes, you will be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.
Featured photo credit: Young happy woman relaxing on green grass. via shutterstock.com