Feeling like you need a little more gratitude in your life?
Most of us could use a little more.
Let’s face it. 2020 has been a tough year. When it feels like there’s constantly something else bad happening, it can leave you wondering what you have to be grateful for.
And once you start down that path, you get stuck in a spiral of negativity and missed opportunities for gratitude.
But here’s the thing: anyone can live with more gratitude. It’s not just reserved for the lucky or people who are doing really well in life.
We can all work toward embracing gratitude and living with a grateful spirit. It just take practice and conscious efforts to notice the little things.
Gratitude can make a huge difference in how you approach life. It puts a more positive spin on everything, which can make the crap stuff a lot easier to handle.
It can also open you up to more opportunities. A lot of people miss a lot of really good opportunities and happy memories because they’re stuck keeping track of all the bad things that are happening.
Research on gratitude shows that people feel happier and have a more positive outlook on life when they take the time to practice gratitude.
It can also help your relationships. If you show gratitude toward your partner, kids, friends, colleagues, and anyone else you have a relationship with, it just might make the relationship more positive.
Don’t wait to feel gratitude until you land that dream job, pay off your debt, or take an amazing vacation. The point is to find things to feel grateful for throughout the journey.
Stuck in the negative of your situation? Try these methods to kick start your gratitude practice.
1. Gratitude Journal
You’ve heard about gratitude journals so much you think they’re ridiculous.
I ignored the advice for a long time. Then I decided to try it. And I loved it.
First, it’s a good way to reflect on your day. Sometimes you feel like you had a crappy day. But looking back on it, maybe you just had a few bad moments. And then you realize you actually had a lot of really good moments and it can change how you feel about your day.
We get so caught up in the rush of the day. Sometimes we forget about the little things that happened that really made us smile. When you sit down to your gratitude journal, you think back to those little moments. And you get to relive them again and experience the joy all over again.
Another perk? I now look for good things as I’m going throughout my day. Little things that I might not have even noticed before. Because I want to have lots of write about in my gratitude journal.
It’s really true that when you focus on what you’re grateful for you become grateful for even more.
Journaling is really easy. You can use a gratitude journal like this made specifically for the task, or choose any type of journal or notebook.
Put it into practice: Grab a notebook, journal, anything and start listing the things you’re grateful for. Write as many as you can. Don’t worry about the list being perfect or organized or anything. Just get the thoughts of gratitude on paper.
And when you’re not feeling so great, you can look back through your list and see just how much you have to be grateful for.
I’m using this as a sub-idea. If you don’t want to do a full-on journal, try a gratitude calendar. Write a few good things that happened on a calendar for that day. Simple, quick, and low commitment!
2. Post Positive Messages Around the House
We can all get in a slump. You have lots of work to do or things you’re dreading.
Maybe you’re feeling a little low on self-esteem right now.
Some seasons are tough, friends. And even if your season isn’t tough right now, some days are just tough.
Leaving inspiration messages around the house on Post It notes is an easy way to remind yourself to be grateful.
Put it into practice: Set yourself up for a positive, grateful attitude by posting inspirational messages around your house. The bathroom mirror is a good spot because you’ll see it first thing in the morning.
But don’t be afraid to sprinkle your positive messages around the house and office. Put one by your desk at work. Post one in the kitchen where you make your breakfast. Leave one in your car.
3. Speak Up When You Notice Something Positive
Have you ever noticed when you say something nice to someone else you feel better too?
Noticing the good in other people is an easy way to practice gratitude. You’re showing gratitude for who they are and what they do.
Now, how many times do you actually speak up when you notice something about someone else? Maybe you notice someone is really kicking butt at work, or you see a mama at the store who is killing it with her patience. Maybe a customer service rep goes out of their way to help you.
Put it into practice: Say something! Toss around compliments and praise like beads at a Mardi Gras parade. Don’t hold it in.
You never know when someone needs that boost. Your one little compliment could completely change someone’s day.
4. Do Kind Acts
Take it a step further and do nice things instead of just saying nice things. It really can be the simplest thing like offering to push someone’s cart to the cart return or holding open the door for someone. When you do good things for other people, it makes you feel good, too.
Put it into practice: Need ideas? Here are some quick and easy things to do:
- Donate food to the food pantry
- Pay for someone’s food behind you in the drive through
- Leave a positive quote or message on a sticky note in a random place for someone to find
- Draw a colorful picture in chalk on a sidewalk
- Let someone in front of you while driving
- Offer to help out if someone is struggling with their kids at the store or a restaurant
- Tip your server more than normal and leave an encouraging message
- Make someone new feel welcome at work, in the neighborhood, at school, etc.
- Scoop the snow from a neighbor’s sidewalk
- Pick up trash
- Send flower to someone just because
- Leave change near vending machines
- Leave a few dollar bills in a baggie in the toy section of the dollar store for a child to find
5. SEek Out the Beauty
Beauty is everywhere. But it’s also easy to overlook it. As you rush through your day, you might overlook the simple beauty in life.
Put it into practice: Instead of just stopping to smell the roses, stop to look at how beautiful they are. Look at how each petal perfectly wraps around the others to form the shape.
Notice how water trickles over rocks in the creek when you go for a walk with your family.
Pick out the intricate detailing on the trim of a Victorian house in your neighborhood while you’re sitting at a stoplight.
Soak in how the light plays with the natural highlights in your kiddo’s hair when it shines in the kitchen window in the morning.
That is real beauty. One little moment at a time.
6. Squash Gossip
Keeping negativity out of your life can help you focus more on what you’re grateful for.
Gossip can be a huge negative influence. And it’s so easy to get sucked into. The soccer sidelines. School pickup. Your neighbor’s driveway.
All of those gatherings can quickly turn into gossip central. And it’s just no good for anyone involved.
Put it into practice: Choose not to join in when the gossip starts flying. Redirect the conversation somewhere else. Better yet, call out the gossip for what it is and let your friends know you’re not joining in.
7. Cut Out Negativity
Feeding yourself a negativity diet leaves no room for gratitude. You get sucked into all of the negative feelings and it’s tough to even see the positives.
Be intentional with what you let into your space.
For me, it’s the news. I know I should stay current on what’s happening. But too much negativity, especially when news stories get shared on Facebook, gets me down.
I get sucked into the comments on the stories, which inevitably turns into a fight and just plain mean, spiteful comments.
I just can’t do it. So I unfollowed on of the local news channels on Facebook. It helped a lot.
I also block people on Facebook that only post negative things. I just can’t do it.
Put it into practice: Try cutting back on the negativity you let into your life if you constantly feel like you’re hearing bad news. Pinpoint which things are draining you and leaving you feeling negative or defeated. Then, figure out how you can ditch them or at least decrease their impact on your life.
8. Reframe Your Thoughts
Are you naturally a half glass empty kinda person? I get it. Especially when things aren’t going your way. It can be tough to have positive thoughts.
Before long you’re thinking about how everything goes wrong. (Just talked my husband down from that ledge this morning.) Or you’re feeding yourself lies about how you’re not good enough or you’re too this or not enough of that.
When you get in that negative mindset, you won’t be able to feel gratitude for any of the good things. You probably won’t even notice the good things that are happening.
Reframing your thoughts can help you redirect your brain back to a more positive attitude. And that makes it much easier to see that there are good things happening for you. Even when it feels like the world is against you.
Put it into practice: Say you forgot to send treats with your kiddo to school. The negative thoughts start flooding your mind. “I’m a failure. I’m the worst mother ever. I forget everything.”
First of all, no, no, and no. None of those things are true.
When your brain automatically goes to those places, talk back!
Reframe it as, “I’m a busy mom doing the best I can. My kids love me. This is not a big deal.”
Another example: “I really hate exercising. It’s the worst.”
Switch that up to, “I’m so blessed to have a strong body that lets me exercise. I get to exercise. I don’t have to.”
9. Get Into Nature
Nature has a way of healing. Giving you a change of scenery. Making you realize the beauty around you.
How can you not feel grateful when you see all that nature has to offer?
My dream is to live on an acreage surrounded by lots of nature.
Right now? I live in a townhouse in a suburb. Not much nature around here. It’s a newer neighborhood so all we have are baby trees and grass.
But I can walk less than a mile and get to a trail surrounded with trees and a creek. It feels like a little nature cocoon in the middle of the city. So I walk it whenever I can.
Put it into practice: Find your little piece of nature and go there as often as you can. Be very intentional about feeling gratitude while you’re there. Not just for the nature you’re seeing, but for all of the good things in your life.
10. Live in the Now
It’s so easy to say. Live in the now. Don’t worry about yesterday or stress about tomorrow.
Believe me. I’ve been through some things. I know how difficult it can be to stop worrying about things.
But as much as possible, put your attention fully into what you’re doing at the time. When you’re focused on the now, you’re able to see more of the good things that are around you. The things you already have in your life.
Put it into practice: When you notice thoughts and worries coming into your mind, push them aside and refocus your attention on what you’re doing. Having a phrase or word to remind you to refocus can help.
Hone in on your senses to help you notice what’s happening. Soak in the noises. Feel the sensations against your skin. Savor each bite you eat.
11. Leave a Positive Review
We’re often quick to complain when something doesn’t go wrong. You tell everyone how your server messed up your order or how your new piece of furniture broke right away.
But do you take the time to brag about the positive? We can all use a little positive boost in our lives. Don’t forget to spread the positive to others.
Put it into practice: Take a few minutes to leave positive reviews for business. You can do it on the company’s Facebook page or review sites like Yelp or Google.
Better yet, ask to speak to the manager before you leave and share your positive story about an employee. Let the manager know how the server went above and beyond to make your dining experience exceptional.
12. Acknowledge People In Your Life
Ever notice how the people you’re closest to end up getting the brunt of whatever you’re dealing with?
You’re in a bad mood or you’re stressed or whatever so you lash out at your family and close friends.
Or you just plain take for granted what they do for you. Or you only notice when they don’t do something and you get snippy about that, forgetting all of the other things they DO actually do for you.
Spending a little more time acknowledging the people closest to you can really boost your gratitude practice.
Listen, it’s tough when your partner leaves his dirty clothes all over the floor.
Or never seems to notice that the trash is full and always has to be asked to take it out… that’s a constant battle in our house.
But I bet there are some things that he does that you really do appreciate. You’re just too stuck in the comfort zone to realize it.
Put it into practice: Make it a habit of thanking your spouse, kids, friends, etc. for something they do regularly. Try to focus more on what they do instead of what they forget to do. And verbalize that. Heck, even write a thank you note once in a while to really shock the heck out of them. I like to keep thank you cards on hand so I’m always ready to show gratitude.
13. Say Thank You to Everyone
We take for granted all of the little things that people do for us every day. The barista who gives you your coffee. The person who bags your groceries. Someone who holds the door for you.
Even the smallest gestures or things people do as part of their job deserve thanks.
Put it into practice: Get in the habit of saying a sincere thank you any time anyone does something for you. Practice it so much that it comes out automatically. Just don’t lose the sincerity of the gratitude.
14. Take Photos of Things You Love
There’s something to be said about living in the now and not Instagramming everything you do.
But snapping photos of things you love or that bring you joy can help you really appreciate them. Especially things you see every day. Things like your pets, kids, or flowers in you garden are examples.
How many times do you walk past your garden without really appreciating it? Or smile at your pet without really stopping to enjoy the silliness?
Put it into practice: Snap some photos when you notice those little things that make you happy.
When you’re having a bad day or you forget to show gratitude, pull out your phone to look at those photos as a reminder.
15. Appreciate the Process
With your busy schedule, it’s easy to overlook the things in your life.
You rush through making dinner just to get food on the table without really enjoying the process.
You grab the cake you ordered from the bakery and rush it off to the party without thinking about what the baker and cake decorator went through to make it.
We have so many conveniences at our disposal. We just take for granted that those things are available.
Thinking about the process of how things are created, whether you’re creating them or not, can make you appreciate them more.
Put it into practice: Notice the efforts that people put into things they do. Think about everything that had to happen before something came to you. Who roasted the coffee beans, packaged them, delivered them, stocked them in the coffee shop, brewed them, and turned them into the delicious coffee drink the barista just handed you? A lot of work went into it. Acknowledging that can help you feel more grateful for all the everyday things we take for granted.
How Can You Practice Gratitude Every Day?
Simple ways to practice gratitude every day can make a huge difference it your outlook. What is your favorite way to focus on gratitude?