With the world feeling upside-down I’ve been looking for ways to keep myself mentally healthy & happy. One of my favorite techniques for this is by practicing gratitude. Practicing gratitude has been found (by places like Harvard) to help reduce negative emotions like guilt, increase optimism (which we could all use a little more of), and can make us feel more satisfied with our lives. When we are thankful for what we have our brains are able to eliminate the excess fluff and we have a clearer image of what else we want.
One of my favorite yoga mantras is – Where our thoughts go energy flows. It’s basically telling us that what we pay attention to is what we bring into our lives. If we only pay attention to the negatives we notice more of them BUT if we flip the switch and pay attention to the positives and are grateful for them we begin to notice more and more of them.
Even though we know gratitude is good for us – it can be super difficult to find ways to be grateful throughout the day. For me, the easiest way to do this is to make gratitude a habit. So today I’m sharing with you 5 tips on growing an attitude of gratitude.
Make a list
This can be a gratitude list, counting your blessings, writing down something that made you smile – anything. This is my favorite gratitude practice. Everyday I make a list of at least three things I am grateful for – they can be everyday like having food or a roof over my head or they can be big like getting a new client or making a new friend. Celebrate the little positives – the longer you do it the more you will notice.
There are a lot of guided meditations around gratitude and loving kindness. I haven’t always been the best at meditation – I’m a little over active but once I got in the flow of it I realized it was a game changer. Taking a moment to quiet your mind and channel feelings of gratitude will help.
Send Gratitude to Someone Else
Write a thank you or gratitude note to someone else. If you’re having trouble practicing gratitude for yourself or your life – try being grateful for someone in your life or something someone did for you. Once you get in the habit of looking for gratitude outside of yourself it’s easier to look within.
Look for the Silver Linings
Going on a silver lining hunt. How many times have you looked back on a situation where things did not go the way you planned and been thankful? It happens to me a lot so now when things go haywire I look for the silver lining to be grateful for. It’s like going on a gratitude treasure hunt. What are the positives you can identify in an unexpected situation? *Warning – do not try to negate negative experiences with this. Sometimes things suck. Thats ok – maybe the silver lining in that situation is that you learn that you can handle shitty situations. Let yourself feel all the feelings around a situation.
Give back and i don’t just mean with your hard earned money. If you have the means feel free to show gratitude with money. If not, give back with your words, sharing information, sharing content you like, showing appreciation. You can give love, energy, time, acts of service. If you know love languages and the love language of the person you are grateful for this is a great time to apply that knowledge.
There you have it – try journaling, meditation,send gratitude or say thanks to someone in your life, identifying silver linings and giving back. Give one or all five of these a try. It may feel weird or forced at first but if you keep at it gratitude will start becoming second nature.
A couple final housekeeping pieces – I like to schedule a time in my day to write my gratitude down and I hold myself accountable by having gratitude accountabilibuddies who share their gratitudes with me. Have fun & be grateful!
*I am not a therapist. Please work with a certified mental health professional for any mental health related issues.