Gratitude is truly all about attitude and cultivating that mind-set doesn’t always come naturally. Imagine recognizing the things you do not have, yet being grateful for what is right in front of you.
The benefits of expressing gratitude are well known: better relationships, better physical and psychological health, increased empathy and decreased anger, better sleep and increased self-esteem. Ultimately, gratitude makes us happier and who doesn’t want more of that in their lives? There are simple ways to create daily habits of gratitude that allow us to focus on what we have been given. They are things we can all do each day to create a grateful spirit that boosts our body, mind, spirit and soul.
- Wake Up Grateful. Do you wake up and hit the ground running? Consider starting your day by giving thanks. Create the time to wake up slowly. Use that extra time to do your devotional or gratitude journal. Another sunrise is a gift from God and each new day is a clean slate on which to begin again. A simple thank you for a fresh start is a great mindset to begin each morning.
- Give Thanks for your Body and Treat it Well. Walk, jog, hike, swim, bike, do what moves you everyday and be thankful for your ability to be active. That endorphin rush from physical activity gives us a positivity boost that feeds feelings of contentment and gratitude. Treating our bodies with respect demonstrates to God the gratitude we have every day for all we have been given and the rewards are better physical and mental health.
- Use Your Words. Write them, speak them, share them, but always use words that express gratitude. Journal your daily gratefuls, say thank you when someone holds a door for you or lets you cut in line. Tell someone at work you appreciate them covering your desk that day, or thank a neighbor for feeding your dog. Better yet, write it down and send a thank you note. If you have been the recipient of a thank you note for a simple act of kindness, you have felt the power of gratitude. Pay it forward and be a gratitude ambassador. Lead with thanks and watch the change in others and yourself. Being grateful has enormous power.
- Appreciate the Little Things. Cultivating a practice of gratefulness can begin with appreciating the little things in life. Waking up. A nice bed. Clean water and clothes. If we start each day with an attitude of gratitude, we will find many things that we are truly grateful for in our everyday lives. Focusing on the positives can rewire our brains and according to the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeping the gray matter functioning and making us happier and healthier.
- Do Something for Others. Each day we have the opportunity to do something for someone other than ourselves and increase experiences that inspire gratefulness. When we see others in need we recognize our strengths and how we may help. It allows us to appreciate the fortune of our everyday lives. Visit family, cook a meal for a sick friend, mow the neighbor's lawn, run an errand, or just smile at a stranger and make eye contact. Kind acts inspire gratitude and increase happiness in return. Try it and see!
- Be Still. Set time when it’s just you and God. That time may be when you journal or do your daily devotional. For many, it is simply taking quiet time to breathe and reflect. Life is so busy and often we forget to be grateful. Gratitude needs to be nourished and nurtured in order to grow. Who better to nourish our soul than God? Having time in quiet reflection allows the other voices to fall away and God’s voice to be heard. It allows us to recognize what gratitude means to each of us.