Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash.
Cultivating a regular gratitude practice can help you to become a happier person, because it helps you to focus on the positive aspects of your life in a meaningful way. Self-help author Melody Beattie summed it up best, ‘Gratitude turns what we have into enough’.
Think of it this way – right now, you’re most likely (at least to some degree) caught in the hustle of life. You’ve got goals, dreams, a vision for your life – and that means that there is some kind of expectation you’re holding for yourself. While living like that can give you direction and help you take action to smash your goals, it can also leave you feeling depleted and in a daily state of, ‘not enough’ with high levels of anxiety and stress, even experiencing burn-out as you try to do it all before some made-up deadline.
Let’s use one of the most common goals as an example – You want to meet your soul mate. Every day, you’re looking around wondering, ‘where is s/he?’. Every time you meet a new person, there’s an obnoxiously loud thought at the front of your mind… ‘is this him/her?!’, and by the time you’ve gone on your third (totally awkward) tinder date for the week, you want to give up your quest all together, only to wake up again with a hopeful but destitute heart. It sounds grim – I know – but bear with me here.
If this is a current reality for you – whether your goal is to meet your future partner, start a business, be promoted, start a family, buy a house, write a book – whatever – bringing a simple gratitude practice into your life will help you to release the tension around it, offering a greater sense of calm and peace to your being.
Developing a sense of gratitude for the life you do have allows you to appreciate what is already yours, which helps you to see all of the positive aspects of your existence. By focusing on those instead of what you don’t have, you can quieten the mental chatter and release the anxiety, because you’re reminding yourself every day about how good things are already.
You don’t need a superstar life to feel grateful – you can do it even if you’re broke, unemployed, or so far away from your dreams that they almost seem impossible. If you open your eyes and look at the blessings you have right now, you’re able to find a deep sense of peace. When you’re in a state of peace, you’re able to make better decisions – including ones that will get you closer to where you want to be.
You don’t need $50,000 in your account – you can be grateful for the $500 you’ve got, because you’ve got it (and there are so many who don’t). You don’t need a gorgeous, loving, supportive partner to feel grateful – you’ve got loving, supportive friends and family right now who love you so, so much. You don’t need your dream job this moment to feel grateful – you’ve got a job that pays the bills, which allows you to work on the skills you’ll need to step into the role you truly want.
There is always gratitude to be found in every moment – and if you want to feel happier, it is up to start looking for it. Here’s an easy way to get started. Choose a time every day to set aside as your gratitude practice. This might be before you get out of bed in the morning or while you’re driving to work, or even before you go to sleep at night.
Decide how you’d like to do your gratitude practice – writing or journaling? Saying them out loud? During a meditation? We’ll use writing in a journal as the example.
At the top of your page, write the date – I like to include this, because it’s fun to look back in a few months and see what you were feeling grateful for in that moment.
Choose something that you are grateful for, and write it down. ‘I am grateful for_____’, or, ‘Thank you for______’.
Then, write down WHY you are grateful for it. This is important, because it ignites the feeling of appreciation, which is what we’re after here.
‘Thank you for my delicious breakfast this morning, because it nourished me and gave me lots of energy to carry out my day’.
Then, repeat! I recommend choosing at least five things you are grateful for, and focusing on different ones every day.
Developing a habitual gratitude practice will not only help you to reach your goals because you’re in a more peaceful state, but it’ll help you to actually enjoy the journey on the way there, because you can truly appreciate it.
Jacqui Sive is a high-level life and business mentor, helping conscious leaders expand into their greatest potential. Visit her website at jacquisive.com.
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash.