(By Randy Lane) As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” Saying thank you, holding the door for someone, these little moments can change the tone of your whole day.
One of the most powerful ways to rewire your brain for more joy and less stress is to focus on gratitude. Here are 10 simple ways to become more grateful:
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits and good things you enjoy. Recalling moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable theme of gratefulness into your life.
- Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. When you remember how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.
- Ask Yourself Three Questions. Meditate on your relationships with parents, friends, siblings, work associates, children, and partners using these three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
- Share Your Gratitude with Others. Research has found that expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships. So the next time your partner, friend or family member does something you appreciate, be sure to let them know.
- Come to Your Senses. Through our senses—the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear—we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. Seen through the lens of gratitude, the human body is not only a miraculous construction, but also a gift.
- Use Visual Reminders. Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. Often times, the best visual reminders are other people.
- Make a Vow to Practice Gratitude. Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Therefore, write your own gratitude vow, which could be as simple as “I vow to count my blessings each day,” and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
- Watch Your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. In gratitude, you should not focus on how inherently good you are, but rather on the inherently good things that others have done on your behalf.
- Go Through the Motions. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude. By “going through grateful motions,” you’ll trigger the emotion of gratitude more often.
- Think Outside the Box. If you want to make the most out of opportunities to flex your gratitude muscles, you must look creatively for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful. Please share the creative ways you’ve found to help you practice gratitude.
Contact Randy Lane by e-mail at [email protected].