Gratitude — it’s something many of us seek to cultivate more of, and yet so often it eludes us.
Why is it so tough to make the attitude of gratitude stick?
If you’ve been struggling to foster more appreciation in your life, but just can’t seem to make it last, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
Many people struggle when attempting to introduce a little more gratitude into their lives — not because they’re not grateful, but because maintaining a grateful attitude isn’t easy.
What Good Does Gratitude Do?
Gratitude is the act of exercising and expressing your appreciation for what’s around you. It’s the recognition and acknowledgement of the good things that surround you.
You don’t need to say it out loud to be grateful, although it certainly doesn’t hurt! You can harbor an inner wellspring of gratitude within that subconsciously reaches out to positively affect all that you do and engage with.
Bu why be grateful? Well, simply put — practicing gratitude is good for you!
Being grateful has a huge host of benefits, both emotional and physical, that will help you feel better inside and out.
What are the benefits of being grateful? We’re glad you asked! Here are just a few of the great things gratitude can do in your life:
- Improves social bonds
- Improves empathy and compassion
- Reduces aggression
- Reduces envy
- Improves sleep
- Reduces anxiety
Why Gratitude Is Hard to Hold Onto
If practicing gratitude is so beneficial, and it doesn’t require any great investment of time or energy, why aren’t we practicing this skill all the time? Why aren’t we all constantly thanking one another and reveling in the many blessings we all enjoy in our lives?
Well, that’s because gratitude can be hard to hold onto.
Why? We live in a world where a speedy pace is prized, not criticized, and not many leave the house with a mobile device, tablet, or computer of sorts.
We’re almost constantly immersed in the technological world, from our televisions to our Bluetooth headphones, and it’s hard to unplug. It’s hard to stop worrying. It’s hard not to focus on the litany of endless to-do list tasks, errands, and obligations that circle us in a seemingly endless swirl of pandemonium.
Is it hard to be grateful? Yes. And that also has a lot to do with the amount of things we take for granted.
Our minds adjust to our present everyday circumstances as a function of our own basic survival mechanisms. If we were constantly astounded by the contents of our bedroom each morning that we woke up, we’d likely begin to feel overstimulated and bombarded.
So, we tend to take things for granted. Our homes, our jobs, our families, our partners, the food we eat, the clothes on our backs, the air in our lungs. We don’t realize that we’re not truly entitled to any of these things, and that to have them is truly a blessing.
4 Effective Strategies for Helping Gratitude Stick
If you want to turn gratitude into a lasting habit, the best way to do so is by incorporating some daily gratitude practices into your life.
These practices don’t need to be time consuming. In fact, they can be quite fun! Select a few exercises that you think you’d like to try experimenting with. You may need to mix and match to find the best combination that fits your life, your schedule, and your needs.
1. Turn Chores Into Appreciation Opportunities
Tired of the boredom-inducing pain of washing the dishes? Is your flossing routine lacklustre?
Time to snazz up these humdrum chores with some good ol’ fashioned gratitude!
Tedious chores and daily tasks can easily become opportunities to practice being grateful. Hey, you’ve gotta take out the trash anyway, right? Why not benefit from the time spent taking care of an everyday errand?
Use the time you spend brushing your teeth to conjure up a few things you’re grateful for. Maybe you’re grateful for the socks you’re wearing that are keeping your feet from getting cold on the tile floor. Or maybe you’re grateful for having gotten a decent night’s sleep.
Turn ordinary chores into opportunities to exercise your appreciation. Get into this habit, and you’ll be surprised by how it exponentially increases your sense of wellbeing!
2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
A tried and true method, to say the least, but a reputable one nonetheless!
If you do best when you can see your ideas on paper, invest in a gratitude journal. Some people find it helpful to go out and purchase a journal specifically for this purpose. In fact, splurging a bit on a beautifully bound book may encourage you to use your journal more often.
To turn your gratitude journal into a habit, commit to using it on a regular basis. Perhaps once a week, or, if you’ve got the time, write something in your journal every day. And don’t just commit to using the journal regularly — decide how many things you’d like to contribute to each entry.
Perhaps you’ll decide you’d like to write 15 things you’re grateful for in your gratitude journal once a week. Or maybe you’d like to try writing 3 things you’re appreciative of each day. It’s entirely up to you!
3. Subtract Your Blessings
This practice helps combat the pesky habit of taking things for granted. We often overlook our many blessings when we come to assume they’re ours and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Ever heard the phrase: you don’t know what you have until it’s gone?
Try this mental exercise to remind yourself of the many good things you have in your life. You’ll likely realize your life has already been blessed with many advantages and bouts of good fortune.
Focus on the aspects of your life that have become steadfast and commonplace. Perhaps your job, your family, or your partner. You can even isolate individual components of your daily routine, like preparing breakfast, exercising, or getting into your car in the morning.
Now, try to imagine what your life might be like if these things were no longer present. What might your world look like without the roof over your head? The food on your plate? The clothes in your closet?
Putting ourselves in a mental space where we no longer possess the things we take for granted can help us better appreciate the blessings we enjoy each and every day.
4. Say Thank-you Out Loud!
Verbally expressing our gratitude can be a powerful exercise. Many times when we feel grateful toward others for something kind they’ve done, we fail to actually express this appreciation aloud.
The next time someone does something nice for you — thank them! A stranger holding the door open for you at work? Say thank-you. A driver lets you merge ahead of them on the freeway? Wave and smile! Your partner has a meal ready for you when you get home? Give them a hug and say:
If you find it difficult to say out loud, try writing a note or sending a text message. Leave a post-it note on a co-worker’s desk. Message a friend to let them know you appreciate them. An act of gratitude can also express your thanks. Buy your mechanic a cup of coffee. Take a family member out for dinner.
We can express gratitude in many, many ways. Taking the time to let others know we care, and that we appreciate them in our lives helps open the passages of communication, and foster deeper, more enriching relationships.
Which of these gratitude practices would you like to try? Have you tried any of these exercises before? How did it go? Let us know your thoughts! We’d love to hear from you.
My name is Vrajan and I’m currently working with Mindvalley, an education tech and personal growth company with over 2 million Facebook fans and an email list of over 1.5 million. We work with authors such as Robin Sharma, Lisa Nichols and Alan Watts to produce amazing transformational education content. I constantly produce very high-quality content for our website and for many high other rated blogs.