With a lot of things happening in our lives, it’s easy to get caught up with them. The everyday stress that we face can take a toll and we succumb to complaining and looking at the problem. We tend to forget that beyond our daily struggles, there’s always something we can be grateful for.
To help you have a more grateful approach in life, here are some easy ways to practice gratitude.
1. Say A Gratitude Prayer Every Night
Before you retire to bed each night, take time to pause and say a prayer of gratitude. If your day didn’t go well, or you feel like you have nothing to be thankful for, a good exercise is to scan your room (or any place for that matter) and give a prayer of thanks for everything you have. Be thankful for the comforts you enjoy, for the food you eat, for the clothes you wear, for your health, and for the fact that you are alive.
When going through a lot of emotional pain, it’s not easy to be grateful. But doing the simple practice of saying a gratitude prayer every night can help take away the negative feelings. If you struggle with it, just pick one thing you are most thankful for. Chances are, no matter how crappy you feel, saying thanks for the smallest thing, can make you feel a lot better.
2. List Down Three Things You’re Grateful For Everyday
If done regularly, the simple exercise of writing down three things you’re grateful for everyday can have a profound effect on you. Make it a habit to do this in the morning or at night before going to bed. Like the first exercise, you will realize that no matter how stressful the day was, there’s always something to be grateful for.
Once you get the hang of it, don’t stop at three. You can lengthen the list to 5 and eventually to 10. But really, it can be as long as you want. You don’t need to limit yourself to only a few things. Doing this helps you remember that even in the most dreary of situations, there’s always a gem waiting to be found. Go ahead and give it a try. You’ll soon notice that you feel lighter, happier and more positive.
3. Complain Less
This is not an easy thing to do, not when there are so many things to complain about. How many times do you catch yourself complaining about the weather, about Mondays at work, about the traffic, about your pesky relatives or your bothersome in-laws? The list can go on and on. The thing about complaining is once you start, you can’t stop.
So, why not devote a day where you don’t complain at all? When you’re tempted to start complaining, turn it into gratitude instead. For example, when you’re stuck in traffic and feel like cursing the car before you or the traffic signal because it takes forever to turn green; take a deep breath and say thank you instead for having a car to take you to work and for the traffic lights that bring things in order. You get the drift.
Doing this also helps you to be aware of your thoughts. Proactively checking yourself when you feel like complaining and turning it into a gratitude statement is not only a good practice for mindfulness; it can also make you more cheerful and help you avoid uncomfortable situations.
4. Volunteer Your Time And Talent
Volunteering your time and talent to a cause you care about can help give you a different perspective in life. Not only will you be able to share what you have by helping others, you will also get to realize that you have so much to be grateful for in your life. Suddenly, the world does not only revolve around you. There are more things in life to give special attention to and it doesn’t always have to be about you.
I spent several years doing volunteer work in the Philippines and it completely changed the way I viewed the world. I was part of a group conducting leadership and transformational workshops to teachers, students and professionals. Although we weren’t getting paid for what we do, it was a wonderful feeling knowing that we made a difference in their lives.
There are so many ways to volunteer and you don’t have to go far to do that. Check your local community and see if they have any volunteer organizations you can join. Go online and search for your interests and chances are, you will find one you can take part in.
5. Smile More Often
You’ve probably heard or read somewhere that it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown. Regardless of the number of facial muscles it takes, a smile, no doubt is way better than a frown.
A smile can make someone else’s day. It denotes a sense of friendliness and cheerfulness that can make even a cranky person to be nice to you. Smiling more often is a form of gratitude because you are giving out a positive feeling to the universe. It simply says you’re feeling good about your life no matter the outcome.
6. Thank The People You Love
A lot of times we take the people we love for granted because we’re used to having them around. When our parents provided for us when we were kids, we felt entitled to that, so we didn’t see any reason to thank them for all they have done for us. How many times have we thanked them and genuinely meant it?
To say thank you to the people who matter to you and mean it, can make a huge difference for them. Verbalizing it means you acknowledge the person and what she has done for you, no matter how simple the act.
7. Do A Random Act of Kindness
One way to practice gratitude is to do an act of kindness to total strangers. You can start with as simple as opening the door for someone, helping someone carry her groceries, or offering help to tourists by giving them directions. It doesn’t have to be grand or complicated. If you’re feeling more generous, pay for the meal of another person without telling her.
Doing an act of kindness shows that you’re abundant and you don’t mind sharing what you have.
8. Take Time to Listen to Someone Who Needs It
You might ask, what does listening have to do with practicing gratitude? With all the distractions in the world, a lot of people don’t have the time to listen; yet a lot also wants to be heard. Listening to a friend in need shows that you are grateful for the opportunity to be there for that person. Your presence is needed and you showed up, and sometimes that’s all that matters.
In times of need, I was always grateful for the people who took time to listen to me. I know they also have their own problems and concerns in life to deal with, but they were willing to set them aside to listen to my own. Be a sounding board to someone and be grateful for it.
Listening is the best gift you can give to someone else.
9. Practice Meditation
Practicing meditation for 15-20 minutes everyday can help elevate you from the stress and anxieties of the daily grind. Make a habit out of it to get better results.
The best way to start a new habit is to include it in your daily routine like brushing your teeth in the morning. My morning routine consists of prayer and meditation before fully starting my day.
For me, practicing meditation makes life less complicated. Being reminded of the present moment makes me feel grateful for everything I have.
If you commit to it, you’ll notice that you feel calmer and happier and you’re not easily bothered by the small stuff .
There’s no better time to begin than now. Once you do, prepare to be amazed at how gratitude can change your life.