Sure, we all want to believe we are grateful for the things we have in this life, but how much do we truly practice gratitude on a daily (or even weekly) basis? Being grateful for what one has seems to be a simple task, but surprisingly, for many people, it is not. With the hustle and bustle of daily life, along with the development of new gadgets and gizmos everyday, it can be hard to stay grounded and appreciate the things that are a part of you life in the here and now. Here are some tips for increasing (or developing) a sense of gratitude.
Write it down – This might seem like a no-brainer; writing down what you are grateful for is simple. However, it can be more difficult than you think. First and foremost, you need to actually sit down and find the time to write. As I stated earlier about the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be hard for many people to justify sitting down for a few minutes and write out these affirmations. However, by keeping a visible list of things and people you are grateful for in your life, it can serve as a powerful reminder in times of need. Whenever you are feeling down about life or struggling with some problem, you can pull out the list and remind yourself of just how many things you have to be thankful for.
Letters of appreciation – Another great idea to help you feel more grateful about your life is to write a letter of appreciation to someone in your life. You don’t actually have to send this letter if you don’t want to, but the act of writing down all the ways this person has helped you can send an important message. First, it helps you realize that you are important and others do care about you. And second, it allows you to take a moment to reflect on just how much another person was able to be there for you during an emotional or trying time in your life.
Meditate – Getting in tune with your physical and mental states of being is another way to develop or strengthen gratitude. Even sitting down for 10 minutes and focusing on yourself can help you appreciate how strong you can actually be. Focus on your breathing, how it feels as it enters and leaves your body; focus on the physical sensations and the mental clarity that meditation can bring. Learning to appreciate the amazing things your body can actually do helps you to feel grateful for health and well-being.
Help someone in need –This can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Maybe it’s a weekly standing date at the local shelter to lend a hand (or an ear). Perhaps it’s volunteering once a month at the animal shelter. Or maybe it’s simply helping someone with grocery bags outside the supermarket. Whatever you do, no matter how large or small, the act of helping another human being helps you reconnect with your purpose in life and makes you appreciate the fact you can actually be of assistance to another person (or animal).
Focus on what you have, not what you want – Sure, we all have wants in life. We want to have more money, more time, a bigger house, a nicer car….the list could go on and on. But instead of focusing on the things in life you don’t have, try refocusing your energy on what you do have. For example, if you find yourself longing for more closet space in your bedroom and it’s stressing you out, think about the fact you are lucky to have your own bedroom – because there is someone out there sleeping on the floor (or worse, in a car or on the streets). When you are upset because your best friend bought a new car and you’re still driving around in your clunker from college, think about that elderly gentleman who walks (rain, sleet or snow) because he can’t even afford a clunker. When you keep the focus on what you actually have rather than what you don’t, you learn to appreciate the smaller (and greater) things in life.
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