“If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.” Lewis Howes.
That’s a powerful statement and is so true. Living with an attitude of gratitude can completely change your outlook on life, improve your health and help you truly be thankful for what you have.
How Gratitude Can Change Your Life
Being thankful is something we should be doing more often than Thanksgiving. While it is wonderful having a holiday dedicated to spending time with loved ones and reflecting on all of our blessings, it would be even better if we could keep the spirit of Thanksgiving going all year long.
It may not always be easy to think of good things in your life when it feels like everything is going wrong and the stress is piling on. But, if we are constantly thinking about the little things in the day that set us off or dwelling on things that we don’t have, how does it make us feel? It usually leaves us feeling irritated, angry and resentful. It can lead to full day or week-long pity parties that are hard to get out of. That often leads to more stress, anxiety and/or depression.
Here are some benefits to being thankful:
- Decreases stress, anxiety and depression. Like I mentioned above, dwelling on good things instead of bad can pull us out of a funk and help us see how much good is in our lives.
- Increases feelings of wellbeing and improves mood. Being thankful is a way to get out of a bad funk or mood.
- Improves physical health. Studies have shown that living with an attitude of gratitude can lower blood pressure, strengthen immune system and reduce symptoms of illness.
- Improves sleep. When you are constantly worried and thinking of all the things that went wrong or what you don’t have, chances are you won’t get a good sleep. When you reflect on good things about your day before you go to sleep, you are more likely to fall asleep faster and have a more restful sleep.
- Strengthens relationships. Being thankful can make us feel more connected to others and more appreciative of our relationships. When we look at those close to us in a positive light and feel grateful for having them in our lives, we feel closer to them and we will treat them better as well.
- Makes us more generous. When you are more grateful, you’re more likely to be more giving and compassionate. It helps us to look outside of ourselves and think of others more.
How to Practice Gratitude
If you are a more negative person by nature, it can take some time to switch to being more grateful and positive. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes daily practice to rewire your brain into being able to more automatically see the good in life and people. But, with small step and daily commitment it can be done.
Here are some simple steps to implement in your daily life to increase thankfulness:
- Count your blessings. Make a list of all the things you can think of that you are thankful for. You may be surprised how many you come up with. I once tried to think of 100 things I was thankful for and write them down. I thought it would be so hard to think of that many things, but once I started, so many things came to me that I normally took for granted.
- End each day thinking of three things from the day that you are thankful for. If you have had a rough day, this may be a frustrating exercise, but if you have had food to eat and clothes to wear, there are two things right there to appreciate. One practice I do with my girls when I put them to bed at night is, for each negative thing they say about their day, they need to say at least one positive thing. That way they realize that even if they had a bad day, there’s something good in their day to be thankful for.
- Start a gratitude journal. There is something about writing things down that helps us to remember things more and makes it more real. Journaling can improve your mood and give you a greater sense of emotional well-being. It is a good stress-reliever. Start writing a journal of things you are thankful for everyday and then go back and read it when things are tough or you’re having a stressful day. It can be a good pick-me-up when you’re feeling down.
- Write down things about yourself that you’re thankful for. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small and don’t compare yourself to others. It is so much easier to point out our flaws or things we are not good at. But, try to make a practice of looking for the good things about yourself. Speak positive affirmations about yourself when you wake up in the morning. It’s a good way to start your day in the right frame of mind.
- Give more compliments to others. Show appreciation to other people and compliment something about them, whether it’s something they’re wearing or something they’ve done that you are thankful for. It can completely turn someone’s day around. It always feels good to get a compliment from someone, so let’s pay it forward and speak up when you notice something good in someone. Also, accept compliments from others too. Instead of down-playing what they said, just say a simple ‘thank you’. By accepting the compliment, you show gratitude for the other person’s nice words.
A Good Attitude Makes a Difference
As you can see, developing a grateful attitude takes time and practice but it is a worthwhile effort. It can have such a positive effect on your life and also those around you. Why not grab a journal and pen and start counting your blessings today! I’d love to hear from you some things you have tried that help you be more thankful, or what a difference being thankful has made in your life. Comment below with your thoughts!