There are many benefits of being grateful. According to “the experts” (whoever that is) people who regularly practice gratitude have:
Improved physical health
Enriched social life
Increased immune systems
Increased overall happiness
Wow! Sign me up! Those are all qualities I want in my life. In fact, those are just the type of characteristics I hoped I could attain and help others attain when I started writing this blog. “Living Healthier and Happier” is my battle cry and these are foundational to that.
So how do we learn to be more grateful and enjoy all these benefits? Much like other positive characteristics, traits and habits, it takes discipline and practice. You knew there was a catch, didn’t you? But it’s actually very easy to add the gratitude habit to your life. Certainly much easier than exercising every morning and saying no to that glorious chocolate cake.
Here are 7 ways to become a more grateful person:
Gratitude Journal – This is the one that keeps coming up everywhere I look. So many people have transformed their lives by this simple practice. Many people do this just before bed to remind themselves about the many ways they have been blessed during the day. This helps you sleep better because you end the day on a positive note and have hope for tomorrow. I choose to do this in the morning while my mind is fresh and eager for new experiences. I like to pick one thing I am grateful for and just begin writing specific reasons why this is important to me and how it enhances my life.
Gratitude Jar – I see this as a variation of the Gratitude Journal. But rather than sitting down and focusing on your blessings you must be attuned to the things you are grateful for as you go about your day. Each time something strikes you as being a blessing and you are grateful, write it down and put it in a jar. At some point, many do this on New Year’s Day, pull them out and review them.
Be Social – Share your gratitude with family and friends. After all, the blessings that are the most meaningful are those involving other people. Since we are around family and friends most we should direct our gratefulness to them. You will pass on the gratitude mindset as you share your blessings with them. But even strangers we meet during the day can be the recipients of our gratefulness. If someone brightens our day and we recognize that we can, in turn, make a difference in their day as well. Of course sincerity is key here. Don’t pretend. People see right through you.
Read the Bible – The Bible is the most hopeful and encouraging book ever written and we can learn much about gratitude from the scriptures. One of my favorites is I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Another favorite is Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; I will say it again Rejoice. And I Chronicles 16:34, Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Prayer & Meditation – Spending quiet time praying to God and meditating on the blessings he has put in our lives is so powerful I can’t imagine not doing this on a regular basis. It will change your life by changing how you look at the people and the world around you.
Google It – Yes, you can learn a lot from Google. People share many different ways they express gratitude and it is always changing.
Send notes, cards and private messages – there is still no substitute for mailing a card to someone who you care about, especially when you can share why they are important to you and that you are grateful for them in some specific way. Again, sincerity is key.
Practicing gratefulness can make a huge difference in your life. An author, Amy Morin, wrote an article in Inc. on the subject and said that if you are interested in self-improvement, mental, spiritual, and physical, and you have only 15 minutes per day, practicing gratefulness is the best thing you can do.
And it gets easier after you do it for a while. You begin to become attuned to the blessings around you and how they affect you. Living with an attitude of gratitude will certainly change your life so give it a try and begin using one of the methods above or one of your own. Let me know how it works out for you.