Why and How to Be More Grateful: An Attitude of Gratitude
November is coming and it is Grateful Month.
It’s also Mo-vember, so maybe I’ll refrain from plucking my upper lip all month. Haha…jk 🙂
I can be more grateful though.
Whenever someone tells me to be grateful, I always think of one of my favorite childhood movies, Anastasia. As she’s leaving the orphanage to set out on a grand adventure to find her parents and discover who she is, the Orphanage director says:
“Be Grateful, Anya.”
In her raspy Russian smoker voice.
I always thought, “how is she supposed to be grateful? She has no parents and has lived in an orphanage most of her life.”
I think we, too, have these thoughts about our own lives. How can I be grateful, I have this, this and this.
But if you know Anastasia, you’d know that she was definitely a grateful person and had an attitude of gratitude. Even though her situation would seem to conclude otherwise.
(Look at me pulling an analogy from a cartoon, like a true mother. There are just so many TEACHABLE cartoons).
Did you know that living a grateful life actually has many positive effects on our overall happiness.
Let me splain…
Facts about gratitude
- Gratitude greatly reduces “toxic” emotions like frustrations, regret, envy, and resentment. (1)
- Gratitude effectively increase happiness and reduces depression. (1)
- Gratitude reduces stress, plays a role in overcoming trauma, fosters resilience, and increases mental strength. (1)
- Studies show that people who practice gratitude also sleep better and as a result their anxiety improved. (2)
- Studies also show that if you write down things you’re grateful for right before bed, you will sleep better. (2)
- Gratitude is addicting. When we experience gratitude it fills our brain with the chemical dopamine which results in a natural high. Because we enjoy this feeling so much, we want to recreate it, causing us to have the desire to be even more grateful. (3)
- Gratitude decreases pain levels. (3)
If this doesn’t convince you to be more grateful, then I don’t know what can.
Basically, do you want to live a happier, more fulfilling, more positive life, free of pain? (okay, maybe that last one is a little dramatic) But you see the picture.
You can literally create those things in your brain and in your life, simply by applying more gratitude in your life.
How can we practice an attitude of gratitude? Let me count the ways
How to be more grateful: 10 ways to Practice Gratitude
1. Count your Blessings
Have you ever taken the time to count and write down 100 different blessings in your life? I’ll tell ya, It makes you think. You have to be specific in order to make it to 100, but I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get there. This is a great journal activity. Think of 100 things you are grateful for and write them in your journal. Refer back to it often, especially if you’re feeling down.
2. Keep a Gratitude journal
Write down at least one thing every day that you are grateful for in your journal. If you’re feeling crazy, do 10. If you don’t have a journal, a notebook would do. Or you could keep a grateful journal. And there are some journals out there that are awesome and give you great prompts other than, “write down what you’re grateful for.” Here are some that I found that could be great or at least give you an idea of what to look for if you are interested in getting one: (as a side note, I’m hoping to come out with my own grateful journal soon, so look forward to that. :)).
3. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have
Big no, no. Don’t think about all the coulda, shoulda, wouldas, and the I don’t haves. They don’t get you anywhere, and it only brings more negativity into your life. You know all those studies I mentioned earlier, well the results also showed the opposite effect. When you constantly dwell on the negative, the regrets, and the things you don’t have you have adverse effects then when you are grateful. So, less sleep, more stress, more pain, and more depression and anxiety. Still dream and be hopeful, but don’t focus on and whine about what you don’t have.
4. Make it part of your Morning Routine
Let gratitude be a part of your morning routine. Everyday think of at least 3 things you are grateful for and write them on your mirror. Think of 3 different things every day. Be creative and really think about what you’re grateful for. Meditating what you’re grateful for a few minutes every morning, would be even better. But you can settle for writing them down. You could also use this time to journal.
Pray to have an attitude of gratitude, and then, also pray and thank God for all the things you’re grateful for. Try saying a prayer and only stating what you are grateful for. Don’t ask for anything. It’s very empowering and uplifting.
6. Cancel Out Complaining
This one takes a more conscious effort, but worth it. Every time you catch yourself complaining, think of 3 things instead that you could be grateful for. It’s hard to remember at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the less you complain. Train your brain to think more gratefully.
7. Serve Others
Take time to serve others. When we get lost in other people’s problems, it often reminds us that our own problems aren’t so bad. Therefore, causing us to be more grateful. Spend time with people, strengthen relationships and bonds and be grateful for loved ones. Because they are what this life is all about.
8. STOP Comparing
“Comparing is the thief of Joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Once you can accept that you are living life at your own pace and appreciate who you are and where you are RIGHT NOW, the happier you’ll be in life. Don’t compare your things, your hair, your fat, or your money to anyone else’s. It gets you absolutely nowhere. Be grateful for who you are, your talents, what you have, and what you can be. Be grateful for who God made you and let Him show you how to become the person He sees and believes you can become.
9. Say Thank you
This might sound simple, but thank people publicly and verbally. Let them know how much you appreciate them, and be sincere about it. Saying it out of the blue is even better. You could also write a letter to old friends or family far away, letting them know how grateful you are for them in your life. I mean, shoot me an email and thank me if you like my stuff. I know I would greatly appreciate it. 🙂
10. Teach your kids
One way you can be more grateful is by teaching your kids how to be grateful. This is a great trait to have for life and to start at such a young age. Teach your children to be content with who they are and what they have. It will not only make them happier, but more successful in the future.
“To live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.” –Thomas S Monson
Here are some Gratitude activities that I have done in some variation with my family and children:
So “be grateful”! It’ll make your life better in so many ways. Start practicing today! Change your mindset, change your life!