5 tips on how to be more grateful every day
Why should you be grateful?
Along with being the right thing to do, being grateful is actually beneficial to the person showing gratitude. Research has shown that gratefulness is linked to better mental health, improved sleep and longevity just to name a few. You should be grateful not just for those around you but, for your own benefit as well.
Being grateful sounds great right? But how can you actually be more grateful than you already are? Yes, you could say thank you a few more times in a day and tell your parents you love them but how can you totally shift your mindset from ungratefulness to abundance and live a life full of blessings?
Look no further! Below we have listed 5 techniques you can use to become more grateful in life.
1. Use a gratitude journal
Let’s get this one out of the way! Gratitude lists and journals are amazing but, if you’ve been on your self improvement journey for a while now, I’m sure you know pretty much everything there is to know about them. For those that don’t know, let’s take a closer look at what these things are, how to use them and what their benefits are.
What is a gratitude journal
Gratitude Journaling Is the practice of reflecting on your thoughts and feelings and then writing down what you are grateful for in a book. If you struggle thinking on the spot, gratitude journals are a great tool to use as they have prompts inside them to help figure out what you are truly grateful for. The most well known gratitude journal is called The 5 minute journal which focuses on improving your mental health in a short amount of time.
How to use a gratitude journal
With The 5 minute journal, you will open your book as soon as you wake up and start answering the prompts provided, you also use this journal right before you go to bed. In total there are 5 prompts, 3 in the morning and 2 at night and these consist of questions like “what are you grateful for?” and “what amazing things happened today?” you should answer these questions in depth which should take you around 5 minutes, hence the name.
Benefits of gratitude Journaling
Gratitude Journaling has long been used to help people with their mental well-being and is often used in forms of positive psychology such as CBT. The 5 minute journal is known as “the toothbrush for your brain” as it helps you brush away the negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones.
What is a gratitude list
A gratitude list is similar to a gratitude journal in which you write down the things that you are grateful for, however, when using a list it is on a much more basic level and simpler to do.
How to create a gratitude list
creating a gratitude list is very easy, to start you will need either a pen and paper or you can use the notes on your phone. Every morning or every night, you write down the things in your life that you are grateful for, you should aim to write down 3 to 5 different things you're grateful for each day.
What are the benefits of using a gratitude list
Gratitude lists have great benefits from increasing mental strength to enhancing empathy and reducing aggression. You can also use another exercise to count your blessings known as the 3 good things, this is where you write down 3 good things that have happened to you today and why it happened, it’s like a what went well technique for gratitude, this has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression symptoms for up to 6 months!
2. Change your perspective
Although in most cases we wouldn’t advise you to compare yourself and your situation to other peoples because your circumstances and how it may affect you are specific to you, however, in some cases it may be beneficial to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and look at things from a different perspective.
A good way to change your perspective is through imagining although the things in life that you are thankful for, your parents support, your health, the roof above your head, your education and then imaging the opposite. Imagine having nowhere to stay, no food in your belly and being old and unwell, then you will feel lucky for the things that you do have… it might be more or less than someone else but at least you have what you have.
On the other hand, you should be priming yourself to be more grateful. Instead of always complaining try turning your misfortunes into opportunities, this has a lot to do with the language that you use. Instead of moaning about your “old and rusty car” think of it as a “reliable vehicle full of good memories” it’s all to do with the way you look at things.
This is not to be confused with toxic positivity though. Obviously things are going to go wrong in life, you will get dumped, lose loved ones and stub your toe many times but it’s about how you cope with it that matters. There is a Buddhist teaching known as the two dart or the second arrow that explains this well. Imagine banging your knee on a table, you are going to experience physical pain… this is the first dart, after this you start getting angry, blaming others and accepting it has ruined your whole day, catastrophizing it further… this is the second dart. You can apply this to all the problems in your life.
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
3. Practice meditation
Whether you are spiritual or not, engaging in a practice like meditation can be very effective in “rewiring your brain” to see things in a more grateful manner. Instead of ruminating on the things that you don’t have and obsessively focusing on what you want in the future, you should aim to be in the present moment and just be grateful for what it is in the here and now, majority of the time.
To start meditating, you will want to be in a calm and quiet environment and keep your spine straight whilst remaining comfortable. As you begin to control your breathing by taking long and deep breaths, you should begin to think of the things you are most grateful for. It’s also important that you visualize these things to its finest detail.
Showing your gratitude is a common practice in religion, especially in the form of prayer in which you thank a higher being for your life and everything within it which may be more appropriate depending on your beliefs.
No matter whether you use prayer or meditation to show your appreciation for the things in your life, you will find great benefit with practicing these daily. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of meditation on your brain, click here.
4. Give someone a call to thank them
The most basic form of gratitude is one of the most effective and easiest ways to feel happier and that’s simply saying thank you to someone. Although saying thankyou to someone for passing you something may give you a short BOOST of happiness, the real results come when you go a bit deeper and explain why.
One way to say thank you that has been shown to increase happiness is by ringing up a loved one and telling them how much you appreciate them and the things that they have done for you. To do this you can write down a small script of what you are going to say to them and then ring them up and tell them how influential they have been, you will be surprised how good this makes you feel.
If you like to show your appreciation face to face, there is another technique you can use called the gratitude visit, which was developed by famous psychologist Martin Seligman. First, close your eyes and visualize someone who has said or done something that has changed your life for the better but you never got a chance to thank them, after this write a letter with around 300 words about how grateful you are for them and be specific, finally arrange a meeting with them and read it out loud to them.
Although it is not necessarily classed as gratefulness, another way you can spread the positivity is to pay it forward, this is when something good happens to you, you do a good deed for someone else and hopefully the cycle continues. For example let’s say you get a job promotion and on your way home you go shopping, instead of just buying your own groceries, you buy the persons behind you and hopefully they will do the same. You can do this on any scale from a smile to helping someone financially.
5. Remember Memento mori
Although a drastic measure to make you more grateful, many people such as Steve Jobs have used memento mori to increase their gratitude even though they are very successful. You can have money, fame and success but if you are not grateful, you still won’t be happy. So, what exactly is memento mori I hear you ask?
What is memento mori?
memento mori translates from Latin to “remember you must die” in English. It is believed to have come from an ancient Roman tradition in which a slave would be told to remind his victorious general that his death was inevitable no matter his fortune.
Although some may find this a bit morbid and should only be used with caution, remembering that you will die one day not only makes you push yourself out of your comfort zone to have as many experiences as possible, but also makes you extremely grateful for everything that you have.
Obviously you can’t experience this without actually dying, so one technique that we learned was to imagine yourself at the end of your life. You can do this by looking down at your hands and making them look wrinkled and worn in your head or imagining yourself on your death bed saying your final words.
Different people have their own methods for example, Gary Vaynerchuk, a serial entrepreneur explain in a conversation with Tony Robbins that he imagines his loved ones dying or even being killed to remind him to be grateful. There are less extreme methods that have been used in philosophies and religions for a long time, such as leaving a timepiece or a skull on their desk to remind them to value their time until certain death.
The content in this article is not meant as a substitute for professional advice and should only be used for informational purposes. If you are struggling with the topic discussed in this article, we advise that you seek the help from a professional.
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