Someone once taught me that gratitude is the most powerful prayer you can say. Over the years, however, I’ve also learned that it’s the most impactful habit and mindset you can develop if you want to see—and experience—your life and the world in a more positive light.
Most of us have a habit of seeing the downside of…well…everything. We regularly see the glass half empty (rather than half full)—no matter what that glass represents.
We see the bank account as not having enough money in it, our job as not good enough, our partner as deficient in many ways, and our living condition as sub-par. We don’t stop to consider the fact that some people have no money in the bank, no job or partner, and no roof over their heads.
We notice the driver who does not let us merge into traffic and don’t acknowledge the one who slows down and waves us into the lane. We feel angry about the waitress who seems to be unpleasant, but we don’t feel appreciative of the one who serves us cheerfully. We complain that our spouse doesn’t listen and don’t acknowledge the fact that he brings us our favorite ice cream from the grocery store.
Maybe you know someone like this…maybe it’s you. This way of seeing the world does not make for a happy or positive experience.
The Negativity Habit
Several people who are quite close to me have what I call a “negativity habit.” They see everything through a lens of negativity and ingratitude. They complain about even the good things in life.
One of these people is quite elderly. She technically qualifies for assisted living, but she has been able to get the help she needs right in her home. Not only that, she has neighbors that pick up mail and groceries and walk the dog for her.
Rather than focusing on the fact that she still enjoys the comfort of her home and has people who make that possible—some who do it simply out of the goodness of their hearts—she complains. She hates the people coming and going from her home all the time. The dog walkers come too late in the day. The caregivers are too loud.
How much better would her life be—and her experience of her life—if she had a habit of gratitude, an outlook and mindset that put her into constant appreciation for all that she has?
The change would be drastic.
But she chooses to see only the negative. She focuses on what she doesn’t have rather than on what she does. And she feels little, if any, gratitude for anything.
The Gratitude Habit
Not everyone has a grateful mindset. But you can develop a gratitude habit. You can practice appreciation daily, and your life will change exponentially for the better.
When you do so, you begin seeing the glass as half full. Everything looks a bit better—your bank account, your spouse’s actions, your job or boss, the other drivers, the traffic. And when everything looks a bit better and you move into that feeling place of gratitude and appreciation, you feel better in general. You become happier and more peaceful.
This does not mean that you settle for a boss who treats you badly, too little pay, an inattentive spouse, or anything else you don’t want in your life. But you accept it and feel grateful for a job, a paycheck, a spouse, money in the bank. And from that place of gratitude, you choose to make changes.
Your new attitude generates a different type of energy. Your appreciation draws to you what you want. You develop the ability to focus on what you want without feeling badly about not having it. That’s how you manifest your desires.
Four Ways to Develop a Gratitude Mindset
If you aren’t a grateful person by nature—or if life has made you ungrateful, pessimistic, or generally upset with life—you can develop a gratitude mindset or, as some people say, an attitude of gratitude. It just takes practice.
The following four gratitude practices can help you shift into a more grateful way of seeing the world.
1. Focus on gratitude when you wake up.
As soon as you swing your legs out of bed and your feet hit the floor in the morning, focus on gratitude. Think of at least three things for which you feel grateful. The stronger the feeling the better. Maybe you can think of something that makes your heart feel happy or your eyes fill with tears because you appreciate it so much.
4. Focus on gratitude before you go to sleep.
When you put our head on the pillow each night, again think of at least three things for which you feel grateful. Consider things that happened during the day. Express your appreciation by remembering them and thinking, “I’m grateful for…because…” Think about how that event or person changed your day for the better.
3. Start a gratitude journal.
Take time every day to write about the things that you appreciate. You can do this in conjunction with your morning or evening gratitude practice. But get in the habit of daily writing down three to five things for which you feel most grateful. Explain why you feel grateful for them as well.
4. Express your gratitude.
Every day tell someone you feel grateful for them being in your life. Explain what they do for you or what it is about them that you appreciate.
The more you think about and express gratitude on a daily basis, the more grateful you will feel on a regular basis. Your mindset will shift, and so will your life. Everything will look and feel better than it did before you developed a gratitude practice. And you’ll quickly notice more things coming into your life for which you can, again, feel grateful.
What’s your gratitude practice, and how does it affect your life?
Photo courtesy of herblady28 / Pixabay.com