Gratitude. It’s one of the most powerful emotions of our lives. Feeling grateful helps us in all areas of our life: physically, mentally, and even financially. Gratitude can help you make friends, enhances empathy, and boosts self-esteem.
Gratitude is all about noticing the good things. A grateful attitude means being aware of life's messes and nevertheless appreciating all the things that work, that are beautiful, and that bring you joy.
If you're not used to noticing the good things in life, however small, it might take some time to get into the right mindset. Here are some ways to help cultivate gratitude in your life.
Thank you isn’t enough
Saying "thank you" or "thanks"—especially when someone does something is only the beginning. And, frankly, just good manners.
Pick one characteristic or train about the people you spend time with and share with them how much you appreciate that attribute. Maybe it's the way they smile, something witty they said, or that they’re always on time. Whether it’s one of your kiddos or the CEO of your company, everyone should know you appreciate what they bring to your life.
Gratitude also tends to be contagious. Maybe the recipients of your gratitude will share their joy and appreciation with others.
Seal it with a kiss
Write—and deliver!—a letter to someone you’ve never properly thanked. Not for a gift or a favor, but for just being them. For all the things they bring to your life. For all the ways in which they’ve inspired you.
Nothing says gratitude like a kind smile. A smile—even from a stranger—lets someone know they’re valued.
Pay it forward
Think about something in your life for which you’re grateful. Share that action with others.
Let's say a teacher made a really positive impact on your life when you were in middle school. Pay it forward by taking time out of your life to mentor a foster care youth. Or, pick something even more simple. Did your hubby or wife do the laundry while you were sick in bed with a cold? When you’re feeling better, give them a special break and do something nice for them. Dishes, perhaps?
Nope, not today
Commit to one day a week on which you won’t complain about anything. At all. Start a complaint bank. If you catch yourself complaining, drop in $1 (or $100!). At the end of one year, donate it.
Spend time with people
Enjoy the people in your life—no matter how major or minor a role they play. Whether it's engaging in a short conversation with the checker at your local grocery store, a heartfelt conversation with a family member, or hugging your bestie.
Share what you have
Doing this makes the things in our lives even more special. What do you have a lot of in your life? Do you enjoy an abundance of beautiful clothes and shoes? Donate the items you no longer wear to a battered women's shelter. Are you fortunate in having a loving family? Invite an elderly neighbor over for tea.
When you stop to look around, you’ll recognize so many things in your life to share—whether it’s unique skills, unneeded possessions, or a bit of wisdom gained from life experience.
Gratitude has a powerful effect on your own life and the lives of others around you. Turn thankfulness into a daily habit—you won’t regret it!