Being grateful is one of the first steps to creating happiness; but, it’s not always easy to be thankful when life is falling apart or simply overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to create habits that will sustain you in any season - even the hard ones.
Below are four easy habits to get you started!
1. A Gratitude Mindset
You’ve likely heard the saying, “what you think grows”? Well, it true. The things we whisper in our mind are the cornerstones to how we respond to situations and our daily lives. Growing better thoughts is the first step to shifting perspective; and, being thankful helps us stay grounded, connected and present.
One good way to jumpstart a positive mindset is to bookend your day with thankfulness. By beginning your morning with a gratitude mantra you set the tone for the rest of the day. It can be as simple as, “There’s always something to be grateful for. Today I choose to be thankful.” Then take a moment at the close of your day to recount the wins, the people who love you, and any little thing you appreciate or love. It’s a lovely way to fall off to sleep!
2. Create a Gratitude Habit
Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to move positive thoughts into something tangible, and it gives you something to look back on in times of struggle. Whether you woke up in a positive light or are struggling to see the silver linings, let everything, from the leaves changing colors to getting the last blueberry muffin for your coffee, steer you to gratitude.
I use a five-year journal with limited space to write so I can focus on one thing and then journal my “why.” I’ve found this a powerful way to experience gratitude on a deeper level and I love looking back to see what I wrote one, two, and five years before.
One reader shared she lists five things each day. Another said she writes one gratitude statement along the side of her Bible page when she does her daily devotionals. Both are great ideas! Bottom line, there is no right or wrong way to keep your journal. Just do what feels best!
3. Stay Present
As best you can, try to release attachment to the future and the past and connect to the present. As cliche as it is - the present is a gift. By not looking back or projecting forward, we are better able to find value in the experience of today. Also, embrace the moments and the people around you and create memories in even the smallest of ways. It will serve you for many years to come.
4. Inspire Action
Putting your gratefulness into action by sharing love, giving back, and inspiring another is where gratitude multiplies! Thankful for your best friend? Tell her! Thankful for your health? Reach out to comfort someone who is not well. Let your gratitude shine bright, inspire others, and effect positive change in the world.
5. Replace Expectation with Appreciation.
Expectation almost always leads to disappointment. Instead of dwelling on the should’s and could’s, appreciate where you are and who you are in this moment. Releasing your expectations and trading them for appreciation allows you to stay grateful. When your morning work out is sloppy and not your best, allow yourself to be grateful for the body you were able to bring to your mat. The same goes for expectation of others. Anytime we engage with another person and pre-conceived outcomes are floating around in our head, we are set everyone up for disappointment. Engage with the curiosity to know or understand the other person better. Allow them to delight you with whom they are!
No matter the season, gratitude is an amazing practice to keep. When we appreciate the world around us, our whole perspective can change. Keep this practice going throughout your day, throughout your week, throughout the rest of the year and you will notice the change in your attitude and level of happiness. And, so will those around you!