“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s day off
Yes, it is quite easy to get swept away in the fast lane. Sometimes, we forget to slow down a bit and show our appreciation for everything that we have. Ultimately, a life well-lived is one full of thankfulness and gratitude. Let us check out the many different ways, it is possible to increase gratitude in your everyday life:
Don’t Pick and Choose What You Will Be Grateful About
Being truly thankful means treating gratitude as a way of life more than anything else. You don’t get to be picky and choose to be grateful for something while disregarding other stuff. In fact, you have to appreciate everything positive all around you. In short, you have to understand that small blessings are every bit as good as big ones.
The habit of being grateful typically starts with recognizing and appreciating that there are few things that might be too small for expressing gratitude.
After all, it is the little everyday things that make life really worth living for all of us. It might be something as seemingly innocuous as appreciating a bright and sunny day in the middle of a hard winter, or even how fast your online order was delivered to you.
You should never leave anything out when you decide to express your gratitude to the people around you, as well as the universe at large. Ultimately, spending even five minutes of the day to practice gratitude can go a long way in creating a more positive and fulfilling life.
Perform Random Acts of Kindness
Set yourself the task of performing three random acts of kindness every day. But this does not mean dropping a few alms into the cup of a panhandler and moving on with your life. You should try and actually think about what you can do, and how to do it, in order to make a positive difference in someone’s else life.
The more you practice such kindness, the more you will realize that while the act itself is of benefit to the other person, the action will also make you feel much more positive about your own self. At a physiological level, your brain will produce and release dopamine and oxytocin into your system. These hormones will make you feel buoyant and happy for the rest of the day. Best of all, the more you help others, the more you will realize just how much you have to be grateful for in your own life.
The very fact that you are in a position to make a qualitative difference in the lives of the people around you will make you feel all the more grateful for your own blessings.
Try and space out your acts by distributing them amongst a minimum of three people every day. It does not matter if the recipient doesn’t even know it is you. Afterward, you should write a few lines about what it is that you have done and what you felt when you were doing it. This way, you will be able to go through your diary and feel good about each and every random act of kindness you have ever performed.
After you have successfully accomplished each one, write a few sentences about what you did and how it made you feel. And, of course, the more kindness you practice, the more thankful you will be because you have just so much to give.
Write Down the Top Three Things That Make You Feel Grateful
Pick up your diary and close your eyes. Now try and think of at least three things that you are grateful for, and that might have happened in the last 24 hours or so. You should make each incident as specific as possible and also jot down why it made you feel so grateful. Put in as much detail as you can, even as you visualize the feelings of euphoria, happiness, and love triggered by these incidents. Don't try to type it on a computer screen or smart device. You should use a fountain pen and actually write everything down by hand. This will help you in remembering it later on, whenever you are feeling a bit down.
Relish Everyday Events
Take a few minutes out of your hectic schedule to savor a few pleasant everyday events. Instead of being gloomy over trivial everyday stuff, you should look at them with a fresh viewpoint and also appreciate what you see. This way, you will be able to be more positive about your small everyday victories. Catching a green light during rush hour, the aroma of freshly baked bread, the first sip of coffee at the end of a long day, the list is endless.
Some of the best ways of expressing gratitude for the many positive experiences in life include the following:
- Share your good feelings with the people around you
- Take a mental snapshot and try and file it away into your long term memory
- Congratulate yourself for every job well done
- Sharpen all of your sensory perceptions
- Always remind yourself how quickly time flies so that you grow to appreciate living for the moment
Avoid Negativity as Much as You Can
Our minds are hard-wired to pay more attention to the negative things in life. The best way to avoid such feelings is to start thinking positively. Let us suppose you have had a really difficult day at work. It would not help if you were to start focusing on the negative things that have already occurred. After all, you can’t really change the past and thinking about it is pointless. All of your personal achievements will just fade into the background and the negative thoughts will simply take over your mind and leave you feeling empty and dejected.
On the other hand, if you were to savor the positive aspect of every situation, you will be much happier at the end of the day. The biggest problem that many people face is that they fail to understand that the closure of a door is often a means of opening another one. Unfortunately, we are so busy looking at the closed one that we miss out on the many others that have been opened for us.
How long will it take you to savor those three important things in life? Probably, 30 seconds to a minute at most. So why not start practicing it from today?
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”
Be Grateful for All the Challenges That Life Has Thrown at You
Gratitude does not mean being thankful for the positive experiences in your life only. In fact, it has a lot to do with turning problems into stepping stones and opportunities. Sometimes thinking about difficult situations or negative circumstances can certainly help to nail down precisely what you should be thankful for in your life.
Of course, it is not easy to think of burdens as blessings in disguise, but that is what they may become if you only choose to see them that way. Taking care of a sick parent battling with cancer might seem like a difficult task, but it can unlock the compassion inside the caregivers and make them more appreciative of the gift of health and youth. They will also grow to appreciate the quiet courage of people who have to live with terrible diseases every single day.
Try and dig a little bit deeper into some of your very own past experiences and use them to figure out precisely how they might have helped to shape you into the wonderful person you are today.
Let us check out a real-world example of a very brave person who was able to use the challenges she faced in life and turned them into wonderful opportunities.
- The Amazing Story of Helen Keller
“So much has been given me I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
This was a woman who had been born with the most important gifts that any human being can have. That is, the gift of sight and hearing. Unfortunately, she lost both at a very young age, in fact, even before she understood details that we take for granted. Such as the fact that each and every object in the world has its very own separate identifying word. Imagine a world in which you won't know the difference between the words required to define a table or a cup!
In spite of living in a world of absolute silence and darkness, she became a pioneering women’s rights activist, a lecturer, and a really vocal voice for the blind, the hearing impaired, and the working classes.
She used her unique position as a deaf and blind woman to open the eyes and ears of the whole world. A world that cared little for the plight of many such people. Indeed, so powerful was her voice that it resonates to this day. In fact, she is known the world over, as arguably the single most famous hearing and visually impaired person who ever lived.
She was always grateful for the fact that the darkness and the silence of her world allowed to make such an impact for those silent ones who had no voice of their own. This noble and brave woman who had been through so much, at such early an age, still considered her terrible disabilities to be a blessing and she was grateful for them. Surely, we too can do the same for the petty things in our lives, can’t we?
Try and Practice the Art of Mindfulness
This is a fairly simple exercise, one where you don’t even need a paper and pen. Just close your eyes and think about five things that you are grateful for, in your life. It could be your loving parents, your brand new truck, or anything in between. The trick is that you will have to picture the whole thing in your mind and wait for that feeling of gratitude to flood through your body. If you do this every day, you will be able to rewire your brain until it naturally becomes more grateful. Do it consistently enough and you will feel a visible difference even as you start feeling happier after each session of this exercise.
It usually takes a couple of months of practicing gratitude before your changed brain patterns start leading you towards the path of ever-greater empathy and happiness. Always remember that if you train your will towards practicing gratitude, it will become easier to live a life full of thankfulness for everything you have, instead of crying over the stuff you don’t.
Volunteer More Often
For many people, the most important key to expressing gratitude is to give back to their community. For example, volunteering in a soup kitchen for the homeless is a great way to ensure that you will never take your home and the certainty of your meals for granted. Apart from that, helping others will almost automatically increase your own well-being, and you will be happier and all the more grateful for your new-found happiness.
Expressing gratitude is more of a lifelong commitment that can only come about if we change the way we live our lives.
Once we decide to become grateful for everything we have, and start sharing our blessings with the less fortunate amongst us, we will be well on our way towards ensuring a happy and contented life.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”