Last week, we went over a few different tactics to try when looking for a perspective shift or trying to develop a growth mindset. One of the themes throughout those tactics is gratitude.
Gratitude is the practice and readiness of showing appreciation for and returning to kindness. It’s a way to see and experience life in its greatest, brightest, most marvelous existence. Gratitude wakes us up to what is right in front of us.
Not to mention the myriad of incredible benefits it has to offer. When we experience gratitude, our relationships become stronger, our immune system improves, quality and duration of sleep gets better, and our mental state is naturally, chemically boosted.
But for how incredibly beneficial it can be, gratitude can actually be extremely difficult to come by. It is quite often oversimplified, in our culture filled with hashtags and buzzwords. Additionally, we are genetically hardwired to look for and find the negative. Genetics, biochemistry, and cognitive bias—to easily spot the negative in a given situation as a survival mechanism—sway our natural negative tendencies.
So, then, if we are naturally inclined towards the negative, how can we cultivate natural tendencies rooted in gratitude?
How to Create a Gratitude Practice
Gratitude doesn’t just happen. It is a conscious choice, a practice that must be deliberately applied and repeated. As our practice grows, our baseline level of contentment gradually rises, transforming the way we see the world.
There are many different ways to implement feelings of gratitude into your life. But the key is to create a constant gratitude practice so that you are constantly aware of the beauty in any given situation.
Write It Down
Writing down what we are grateful for each day helps us focus on all we have in life rather than what we are lacking. Challenge yourself to put pen to paper each day and record as many feelings of gratitude as you can find. Focus on the people to whom you are grateful; savor surprising, unexpected events. There’s no right way to do it, simply establish the daily habit of writing down these gratitude-inspiring events.
Tune Into Hidden Blessings
- Think about something that didn’t work out the way you wanted.
- How did you feel after that experience? Regret, shame, self-criticism?
- Now, reframe it: What lesson did you learn? Did you establish or learn something new?
- Take that memorable disappointment and reframe it in your memory so that you no longer carry it as a regret, but as an experience to be valued.
Acknowledge 3 Things
Challenge yourself to express 3 things you are grateful for every single day: the people you love, the talents you’ve been given, or the abundance in your life. Express gratitude authentically and consistently. The more you praise and celebrate what you have around you, the more there is around you to celebrate.
Take a Look Around
Wherever you are—in your car, working from home, walking in the grocery aisles—take a moment to examine your surroundings. Maybe it’s the interstate, the cars zipping past, and billboards on the roadside; perhaps it’s the stocked shelves, the clean, linoleum floors, or fresh cut flowers. Scan the space you’re in. Take a moment to think about how you’re able to cruise on the freeway or work from your kitchen table; who helped build that freeway, who put together that table? Who drove those fresh vegetables from the farm to the grocery store? Think about all our interdependencies; recognize that so much of what you enjoy or even depend on is reliant on so many others.
We will all suffer, in different ways, during this life. It is guaranteed. But gratitude can be the light in the dark, the source of resilience.
It's easy enough to feel grateful when things are good, but what about when things fall apart? In order to tap into the power of gratitude, our gratitude practice must be strong. It’s through a solid gratitude foundation that we lay with these practices that failures become learning opportunities, hardships become wisdom, and we see the world with more appreciation and wonder.