A few days ago, I was having a very nice conversation with a friend. At a certain point, she paid me a compliment for an act of kindness I had performed … I felt positive and happy. But I realized it wasn’t the compliment as such that made me feel so good. It was the power of gratitude embedded in the compliment that triggered it.
Research on emotion shows that positive emotions wear off quickly however with gratitude we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators. And when we focus on the things that we are grateful for, we increase our level of energy and attract more positive things in our lives.
Attitude is everything: whether it is at home, at work, or in any aspect of life. It defines who we are. How we perceive, comprehend, and accept a compliment or a criticism plays very heavily on our attitude day today. Being thankful for something or someone is an action called showing gratitude. Actions like these can greatly improve your attitude with yourself and improve the daily value and life of another.
The satisfaction of simply addressing someone’s hard work or talents can improve the quality of their life and boost their confidence- at the same time, you also boost your own happiness by the simple act of showing gratitude and seeing how it positively affected someone else.
Gratitude allows me to bring awareness to the good things that are happening in my life on a daily basis. With repetition, it takes the focus off of what I perceive as the negative aspects of any situation. It puts me into a mindset of finding that there are many good, positive things happening in many areas of my life. It shifts the focus off of what I perceive to be negative.
And by shifting the focus of the negative aspect of a situation, I am able to see more clearly the positive things that can come out of any ‘not so easy’ situation. Sometimes the answer isn’t readily available, but just knowing that all things happen for the greater good, is enough to keep me from falling into resistance, and keep it from getting worse.
So this week I’d like to explore 5 small tips that you can use to cultivate more gratitude and happiness in your life.
1. Pause and look around yourself.
A first simple step to build the gratitude habit is simply to pause in your everyday life and to ask yourself questions like:
- What can I be grateful for in my life today?
- Who are some people (at least 2) that I can be grateful to have in my life and why?
If you cannot come up with several things or people every day then that is OK. If you find one thing or one person then that is great too. Don’t get hung up on the numbers. Just take a few minutes and see what you come up with.
2. Look towards yourself.
Don’t just look outward. Take a look at yourself too. A habit of being appreciative and grateful towards yourself is a simple way to improve self-esteem and self-confidence. Ask yourself: what are 3 things I can be grateful for about myself?
3. Take a closer look at the very smaller things or what you may take for granted.
Don’t just focus on the big and obvious things you can be grateful for.
Think about what very small things you can be grateful for too. I keep a small stone on my desk – it is not a remarkable stone. But it is simply beautiful and it reminds me of a gift I received from a great mentor and that I feel grateful for.
- What is one very small thing that I can be grateful for today?
- What is one thing I may usually take for granted that I can be grateful for?
Opening your eyes to the small and daily things you can appreciate lets you truly see more of the simple beauty in life.
4. Do it early or late in your day.
But how do you get the gratitude habit to stick and not just become one of those things you forget about or abandon after a few days.
- Take 1 minute in the morning to get a good start to your day by finding 2 small or big things you are grateful for in your life.
- Take 1-2 minutes each evening and use a journal to write down maybe 3 or 5 things you are grateful for about your day, about yourself or about your life.
5. Express your gratitude.
Most importantly, don’t just keep the gratitude on the inside. Express it and let it become a Habit!
Make other people happier too – and help them to perhaps pay it forward later on – by expressing how you are grateful for having them in your life. Plus, their smile and the joy in their eyes when you tell them this will make you happier too.
Now, that gratitude could just be a small sentence. But it can have a big impact on someone’s day, week, or even life sometimes.