Gratitude comes from accepting that the good things in life come from outside ourselves.
If you pause to think about it, it makes a lot of sense. See an amazing sunset? Grateful! Secure a table at a sought-after restaurant? Grateful! Beat every red light on your drive home? Grateful. Many things that bring us joy are outside our control — be it other people, nature, or something else altogether.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. Having an “attitude of gratitude” takes practice and patience. But your efforts pay off in a big way.
Practicing gratitude can make us happier, improve our relationships, lead to better physical health, reduce toxic emotions, lessen depression, and increase happiness. Not bad for a subtle mindset shift, right?
We should all be striving to live with an attitude of gratitude.
Here’s where to start.
6 ways to build an attitude of gratitude, every day
Waking up one morning and deciding, “I’m going to be grateful today” can work. But for best results, pair that new and improved view of the world with one, or more, of these gratitude building activities:
1. Daily journaling
A five-minute daily commitment to gratitude journaling can do wonders for maintaining a positive mindset. You could start off with a 30-day challenge, trying a different short exercise each day. Ditch what doesn’t work for you, and hold on to the stuff that resonates.
Use a special notebook just for your gratitude journaling practice — and look back over the pages whenever you need a boost.
2. Make a Morning checklist
Not a fan of writing? No worries. You can practice gratitude in your mind, too.
Just do a quick mental checklist of things to be grateful for, while having your morning coffee.
It doesn’t have to be anything major. Things like “I’m grateful that it’s sunny today” or “I’m grateful I had a good sleep last night”.
Even when things seem bleak, being able to identify just three little things that make your life better can vastly improve your outlook.
3. Find three things you take for granted
We all have things we take for granted. Fast WiFi, comfortable shoes, physical health, the love of our friends and family, and small comforts like watching your favorite Netflix show in bed.
Take the time every so often to reflect on the small things that we (under)value the most.
4. Share the love
By definition, gratitude extends to showing kindness to others.
Think about the people who’ve made your life better recently, and go out of your way to thank them. Spreading gratitude is a wonderful gift — you feel good for doing it, and the person you’re thanking will benefit immensely as well.
5. Use visual reminders
Write on Post-It notes some of the things you’re most thankful for, and stick them around the house. Maybe put one on your alarm clock so you see it every morning, or one on the fridge that you’ll pass every time you’re in the kitchen.
These everyday reminders will reinforce your attitude of gratitude, and help you be more grateful in day-to-day life.
6. Be grateful for yourself
Remember that definition of gratitude we just shared? Those acts of kindness should absolutely extend to you, as well.
Just before bed, take a few minutes to think about three positive things you appreciate about yourself. (Three really seems to be the gratitude magic number!) Again, they can be small: “I appreciate that I cooked a healthy dinner for myself” or “I appreciate that I didn’t let that email send me into a whirlpool of stress and despair”.
Again, you’re training your brain to think positively. If you can make this a daily practice, you’ll notice a mental tendency toward being more positive overall.
The proven benefits of an attitude of gratitude
It’s kinda astonishing just how effective a gratitude practice can be for improving our lives. For the last 15 years, scientists have been studying gratitude and its role in our psychological well-being. Here’s what they’ve found out:
Improves physical health
A 2013study found that people who are actively grateful experience better physical health and are more likely to look after themselves.
Helps you to build closer and more meaningful relationships
Gratitude is essential for initiating, growing, and maintaining close relationships. The friends that you share your gratitude with are more likely to feel valued and invested in, and will give you the same positive treatment in return.
Improves mental health
Practicing gratitude has undeniable positive effects on our mental health. It gives us things to be hopeful for, even on days when everything feels like crap.
Better quality sleep
Onestudy of 400 adults found that those who practice gratitude report overwhelmingly better quality sleep. Thoughts of thankfulness and positivity while falling asleep resulted in people getting to sleep quicker and staying asleep longer.
Increased self esteem
With your attitude of gratitude up and running, you’ll soon begin to spot the vast amount of things we have to be thankful for — both small and large. Gratitude makes us remember the happiest moments in life, leading us to picture ourselves at our best, which in turn canlead to higher levels of self-esteem.
Increased productivity at work
As humans, we’reway more motivated by positive reinforcement than we are by criticism or negativity. By practicing gratitude, we’re naturally more happy and positive about ourselves, which has beenlinked to productivity and work effectiveness. What’s more, in one workplacestudy, managers who show gratitude toward their staff saw a 50% increase in their productivity — something for the leaders among us to think about!
What do you have to be grateful for?
Knowing that small lifestyle changes help bring us closer to happiness and fulfillment is super inspiring. In fact, that’s something that we’rereally passionate about here at Heylow.
Read the Good Life Journal for more totally manageable actions that can have a big impact on your overall outlook. We’re grateful to have you here!