Do you feel like your life is a mess? Like your friends are having all the fun while you’re just moping around?
The problem might not be that you need to change, you might just need some gratitude. Gratitude is about focusing on the things and relationships you already have and all the things you like about them.
So how do you add gratitude into your life? Here are 6 ideas to get you started.
“Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But it’s when you least feel thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective. Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest most powerful way to effect change in your life — this I know for sure.”
Make a Gratitude List
Writing down things that you’re grateful for is the single most powerful way to add gratitude to your life. Just the act of writing your thoughts down focuses your mind and creates a lasting impact. Being able to go back and remind yourself of all the great things in your life is one of the best pick-me-ups after a rough day.
Your gratitude list doesn’t have to be a fancy notebook or even a physical list at all. I find that it’s easier to keep a list on my phone. It’s always with me and it’s quick to jot down a few sentences or bullet points whenever I want.
However you organize your gratitude list is up to you. You can make a new list everyday or make ongoing lists about specific topics and add to them over time. You can have a list about anything, there’s something to be thankful for in every area of your life.
Tell someone you appreciate them
It doesn’t need to be a profound or emotional proclamation, but just a simple, “Hey thanks for helping me out” or “Thanks for the great feedback.” There are tons of things you can appreciate someone for – holding open a door, helping with chores at home, cooking dinner or simply being there to listen.
When you take the time to voice your appreciation, it opens you up to see all the great things that happen to you everyday.
Surround yourself with inspiration
Use social media to work for you by curating what you see online. Unfollow and unsubscribe from email lists, subreddits and Facebook friends that bring clutter or negativity to your inbox or newsfeed. Once your online space is tidied up, seek out groups and pages that inspire you and add positivity to your day.
I personally went through this process two years ago and it has had a profound impact on my emotional well being. My worldview is much more positive and optimistic and I feel less like I need to compare myself to others. I also spend significantly less time on social media because there’s just not that much to read. I highly recommend you give this one a try. Even if you just pare down a little bit, you will notice a real impact.
Give a compliment
There are tons of opportunities for compliments everyday. Lots of great things happen all the time, but they are so routine we take them for granted. Challenge yourself to give 2 genuine compliments per day. Aim small. Is your friend wearing some cool new shoes? Tell her how awesome they look! Did Tim really crush that presentation? Let him know how rad it was!
Giving compliments isn’t just a one way street, making other people feel good makes you feel good too. People like being around positive people. I have a co-worker who is great at this. She always notices when I get a haircut or if I handle a difficult customer well. There seems to be an air of positivity that accompanies her and she naturally improves the mood of every around her. As a result co-workers look forward to her shift and customers often ask for her by name. Who wouldn’t want that kind of good mood technology?
Go on a complaining diet
Complaining is the polar opposite of gratitude. It forces you to dwell upon the things you wish were different, but doesn’t help you change them.
For many of us it’s just a normal part of daily conversation and for good reason. It’s a great source of relatable small talk – the weather, politics, traffic, etc. There’s lots of universal things to complain about. But complaining is much more than just shooting the breeze. It focuses your attention on everything you don’t like. It alters your perspective to one of perpetual pessimism. It may seem like an innocuous observation at first, but it can easily grow to an air of negativity that infects your every social interaction.
“Complaining is like bad breath- you notice it when it comes out of someone else’s mouth, but not when it out of your own.”
Will Bowen was the pastor of a small midwestern church who created a 21 day complaint free challenge for his congregation. He gave out simple purple wristbands with the instruction to put it on either wrist and switch arms every time you complain. The idea has exploded and to date, Will has sold over 11 million wristbands.
He didn’t get that kind of success through sheer luck or gimmicky marketing. The idea of being aware of and avoiding complaining are powerful exercises that can completely transform your life. You can grab one of Will’s purple bracelets here, but any physical reminder will do – a rubber band will work in a pinch. The important thing is that you get the habit started.
Enjoy the beauty of nature
For millennia writers, artists and poets have exclaimed the healing power of nature. There is something deeply rooted in our minds that instinctually responds to the wild serenity of the great outdoors. But you don’t need to travel deep into the back country to enjoy the benefits of nature.
Take a walk through a park, around your neighborhood, visit a botanical garden or go on a weekend camping trip. You’d be surprised how many great parks and nature areas are available near you, even if you live in the city. Get out there and breathe the fresh air, savor the beauty that surrounds you and give thanks for all that nature provides.
A gratitude habit can make a profound impact on your happiness and life satisfaction. Just a small step is all it takes to start seeing the benefits of being thankful. Whether it’s journaling, curating your digital space, showing appreciation, giving compliments, avoiding complaints or getting out into nature, everyone can find something to practice.