“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We tend to see situations in a black or white perspective, where they are either good or bad. What if we could find at least a nugget of good in every situation?
We find this nugget by being grateful. Gratitude does not have to be a subject we save to think about during the holidays, but instead a daily practice. While we may be grateful for something on the surface, how often do we really feel gratitude? For example, if someone were to ask us if we were grateful to have food and shelter, we would likely say yes. Feeling gratitude is to really imagine and picture ourselves in a situation where we didn’t have these necessities, privileges, or luxuries. Then to come back to reality, realize we have the necessities, privileges, or luxuries and appreciate how much value they have in our life. When we look at gratitude from this perspective, we gain more appreciation and joy from the practice than from being grateful at the surface level.
Another helpful practice is to be grateful during times of difficulty or conflict. For example, let’s say that we are stressed at work from having a lot to do. Instead of getting caught up in the workload, take a step back and be thankful we have a job and for the multiple responsibilities that we have. If you get into an argument with a partner, be grateful that you even have a partner. When stuck in traffic, be grateful you have access to a vehicle to provide transportation.
So now that we know we should be grateful, what are some actionable steps to make it happen? There are many options available, but here are some to get you started:
Writing down everything we are grateful for is a great way to get started and an instant mood booster. Seeing the list of things we are grateful for opens our eyes to a whole new perspective and makes us feel better.
Every day, we can give ourselves a boost of gratitude by writing down three things we are grateful for when we wake up or when we go to bed. If you want to do it when you wake up and also when you go to bed, even better. This is a great way to start the day off right and end the day on a happy note.
Think about loved ones
Being grateful for people is also a beautiful activity. Think about those you love in your life, and why you are grateful they are in your life. If you feel comfortable, try telling them what you appreciate about them or writing them a letter. They will love getting it, and it will make you happier too. Everyone wins.
Take joy in the little things
It doesn’t have to be huge or important to deserve gratitude. Focus and be happy for the little things in life. Soak in the joy from something simple like sunshine, good food, being able to walk, and being alive!
When we use gratitude in this context, we can see our life from a happier angle and realize that the silver lining is there, we just have to find it.
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