Being grateful has been shown to have many tangible benefits, including better mental health, stronger relationships, higher quality sleep, greater immunity, and more. And yet, even as adults, so many of us just aren’t thankful for what we have. A lack of gratitude seems to be a part of the human condition.
But, it doesn’t have to be. Like with almost anything, we can change our brain and learn to be more thankful about our lives. It may not be the easiest process, but it’s worth it to experience the health (and other) benefits of gratitude. So, without further delay here’s how to be grateful.
Slow Down and Pay Attention
In my experience, a lack of gratitude often stems from a lack of mindfulness. Mindfulness, on a basic level is simply paying attention in the present. For most of us, life becomes a blur, a jumble of deadlines and worry about the past and the future.
Find a way to slow down your life, even if for a few minutes. Spend some time each day meditating or praying. Laugh with family and friends. If you’re at work, get away from the computer and take a walk. Enjoy a few deep breaths.
If you’ve ever watched a science fiction movie you know when the characters travel at warp speed, everything blurs. Life can be the same way. To be grateful, slow down. You can see more.
Choose to Be Grateful
My brother and Popular Man co-owner, David, always reminds me when I complain about the rain that people pay very good money to get wet at water parks. It’s a good perspective.
In many cases, whether or not an event is good or bad really comes down to perspective. It’s often the case that we can approach an event, person, or anything really, from a grateful or ungrateful perspective.
A couple months ago I was at Tim Hortons having coffee when a woman eating there received the wrong sandwich. She became hostile towards the cashier about the mistake. Although she had a right to get what she paid for, people in some parts of the world would be thrilled just to get food even if it was the “wrong” kind.
Try to develop a perspective of gratitude. Rather than seeing negativity and disappointment, focus on the positive aspects of life instead. This works especially well with people. Find the best in others and you’ll likely have more friends and deeper friendships.
The Mundane Matters Most
It’s easy to be grateful for a promotion, winning money in the lottery, or getting attention from a beautiful girl. It’s harder to be thankful for the more day to day aspects of our lives, some of which we consider routine and maybe even at times aggravating.
However, when it comes to being grateful, the day to day matters the most. It’s very easy to have gratitude about winning the lottery. It’s much harder to be thankful for a mother who has sacrificed for our well-being but still gets on our nerves for several hours a week.
But, a truly grateful mindset involves having gratitude on a daily basis, even in the midst of the annoyances. In fact, it matters the most because that’s where most of our stress comes from.
Write it Down
It’s standard advice to keep a gratitude journal and it’s an important part of knowing how to be grateful. I mention it because it really does change your perspective over time. I’m not going to say a lot about this particular tip because so many other articles on gratitude mention journals.
But, if you have one, then it’s important to actually use it. And, go back from time to time and look at what you’re thankful for, especially if you’re having a very negative or challenging day.
Let Others Know
If you have a great experience at a restaurant do you tell the manager? Probably, you only do that when you need to complain. Have you ever thanked your mom and dad for raising you? Likely you only get mad when they annoy you. Does your awesome boss know you think he’s great? Or do you only complain about the bad bosses?
We have a tendency to focus on the negative while forgetting about all the positive aspects of life (and the people). So, if you are thankful for people, let them know. It doesn’t have to be anything earth shattering. Tell them, write them an email, or send a text. It feels good to be appreciated.
So, hopefully these tips will let you know how to be grateful (or a little more so). Go out and enjoy the benefits of gratitude (and make the world a better place).