Would you like to experience greater happiness, less anxiety and overall better well -being? Did you know that you could achieve this by simply adopting an attitude of gratitude? Sounds simplistic but studies have shown a direct link to a daily gratitude practice and happiness.
Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, conducted an experiment on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. As well as that, those that practiced gratitude experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.
So how can we incorporate an attitude of gratitude into our current lives, amongst all the chaos and external pressures? How can we be grateful for our lives if we hate our jobs, are fighting with our family, have no money in the bank and generally feel like crap about ourselves? The answer is simple: there is always something to be grateful for. Always. No matter how bad a situation seems, there is something to be gained and be thankful for. A bad breakup? Be grateful for the cherished moments, the happy times and the lesson about what to look for in future partners. A flat tire? Be grateful to have a car in the first place and mobile phones to call for help.
I recognise that it can be difficult to ‘get-it-up’ for gratitude. So here are 10 easy-peasy gratitude practices that can be done anywhere, anytime:
- Set a reminder in your phone and when it goes off during the day, think of 3 things you are grateful for. Set the reminder for a couple of times during the day and change the times around, just to keep it fresh and so you aren’t anticipating it.
- Every time you stop at a red light, start your gratitude list and keep going until the light changes. (NB: List in your head. No writing while driving. Unless you’re a passenger, in which case ROCK ON!)
- After you brush your teeth, look in the mirror and compliment yourself. Feel grateful for your teeth and how they help you to eat, feel grateful for your ears and how they help you to hear, feel grateful for your butt and how good it looks in jeans etc.
- Before you eat a meal, say a quick thanks! Thanks to the farmers, the truck drivers, the shop owners who made it all possible for you to have that meal.
- Just after you write your shopping list, write a gratitude list. Use the Little Aussie Cheerleader template for an easy and mindful gratitude practice.
- Received a bill or two? Close your eyes and for 5 minutes think about all of the value you get from the service the bill relates to. For example, your electricity bill allows you to see in the dark, watch amazing shows, cook dinner…the list is endless. TOP TIP: Kate Northrup, author of Money: A Love Story, calls bills ‘Invoices for Blessings Already Received’. It’s such a nice spin on a cringe worthy subject.
- When you receive a message from your friend, start your reply with ‘thanks for your message’. Be thankful for that connection and that somebody thought of you.
- If you find yourself waiting in line or on the phone on hold, evoke feelings of gratitude. Think about things that make you happy and be grateful to have them in your life. Sometimes waiting in queues can seem pointless but it’s a reminder for us to slow down and reflect on our lives. Which is also a great time to be in an attitude of gratitude.
- When something bad happens, after you process it, be grateful for it. Be grateful for the lesson learnt, for the experience, for reminding you of your inner strength and courage. As Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
- When you are just about to fall asleep at night, make a list of what you are grateful for. It’s a fabulous way to end your day.
Fit these practices in to your daily routines and as your focus shifts towards gratitude, you’ll attract MORE things to be grateful for.
Which of these 10 tips do you think will work best for you? Why? And do you have your own daily practice that has kept you in the attitude of gratitude? Let me know in the comments section below!