How to Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
We hear a lot about being grateful or practicing gratitude, but what does that really mean? For many, it seems to come easy, but for some, it feels like a chore. Early humans were intended to look out for possible threats, but as we have evolved, it seems like the tables have turned, and our well-being could be rooted in looking for the positive aspects of life. We may be hard-wired for potential threats, but what do we do when it seems like that’s our main focus? Gratitude is a modern-day skill that needs to be practiced. So, here are some tips on how to practice an attitude of gratitude.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Research shows that gratitude can increase your “bounce-backability,” tighten bonds with friends and family and reduce stress levels and depression. People who practice gratitude tend to be more satisfied with life and feel a greater sense of overall well-being. Gratitude can strengthen immunity and lower our blood pressure because it chills us out when we do it.
Gratitude gives you a break from seeing the glass as half empty by taking some time to notice the good things life has to offer. There is plenty of time to deal with the hard stuff life gives out, so spending 20 seconds a day, multiple times a day, shouldn’t step in the way when there are hard choices to make.
When people talk about being positive, gratitude and appreciation are critical players to positivity. They can increase essential neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. These are the chemicals that we can access to feel good even when we focus on positive things from the past, present, or the future—the brain doesn’t know the difference.
When we practice gratitude, the brain learns to tune into the positive things in the world. Gratitude is a mindset that can be developed just like fault-finding, judging, comparison. Many negative emotions and thoughts are tools of the ego that have been practiced for years. The ego uses these thoughts to reinforce itself as either better than it is or to position itself as a victim meant to be pitied. Gratitude helps conjure a sense of worthiness, love, and compassion, among other things.
How to Practice Gratitude
Number one, if it doesn’t inspire emotion, you’re not going to receive the benefits of a gratitude practice. Sure, anyone can repeat like a parrot a list of everyday things that are going good for you in life. Maybe in our developed world, it could be health, food, or family, but the trick is to get riled up and excited about what you’re grateful for at a minimum of 20 seconds a pop.
Based on the teachings of Abraham Hicks, get a journal and title it “My Book of Positive Aspects.” You could write in it in the morning to set a positive vibe for the day and before you go to bed so that you end the day thinking about its highlights and not all of the drama that might keep you up at night.
Just like your skincare routine, practice gratitude in the morning or before bed. In the morning, think about your favorite song, food or TV show and write about why you like it. For more morning—or anytime exercises, check these out. In the evening, go over the day (even if it was uber mundane) and find the highlights. It could be anything from the barista remembering your name to getting a call from a friend—just write it down and bask in how it made you feel. Write everything down in detail.
Hardcore Love Gratitude
Write a letter to someone or something that you’re grateful for. Start with your best friend or your mom. You don’t have to be Shakespeare here, just emote! Boost to the next level and write about someone or a situation that challenges you. This helps to change your perspective on something or someone that gets under your skin. Write about what it’s teaching you and how you’re growing from it.
When You’re Stressed AF
Just stop and breathe in so that your body feels like it’s about to burst and then let go completely, then say, thank you, thank you, thank you. Even if you’re not thankful for anything in particular, you just need to take a break from the stress. Again, even if it’s only 20 seconds, say thank you to yourself for taking a few seconds to honor that “this too shall pass” and are already showing the solution that you appreciate its arrival.
There are countless ways to start a gratitude practice, so let’s be thankful for all of them and remember it’s good to be ME!