Developing an Attitude For Gratitude

One of my goals for 2019 was to start a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is a one-sentence-a-day type of journal where each day you write something you are grateful for, and it can be related to what occurred that day or not. To be honest, I failed. I kept up with the journal for about a month before it started to fizzle out and I forgot about it.

However, I learned a lot about being gratuitous in the process. Even though journaling wasn’t for me, I didn’t want to stop practicing daily gratitude. In fact, I realized how much happier and more positive I was by taking time to notice the things I was grateful for. That being said, here are some ways to integrate a daily dose of gratitude into your life, whether you want to go big or just integrate something small into your routine.

Take a deep breath every time you start to think negatively.

Trust me, before I started actually doing this I hated when people told me to “just breathe,” as if that could solve all my problems. The funny part is that once I actually gave it a chance, breathing really helped. Oxygen is the best medicine, and by getting more air to your body, you truly will feel better.

Throw compliments like confetti, and accept them with grace.

Compliment your loved ones, compliment strangers, compliment yourself, but make the compliments matter. Complement actions or words, not just appearances. Also learn to take complements and really receive them. When you contradict someone after they give you a compliment, you are discrediting their opinion, so thank them and accept that they might see something about you that you don’t necessarily see.

Make it a habit to say thank you, but truly mean it.

I think “thank you” has lost a lot of meaning in today’s culture. We learn to say it because we are supposed to, not because we actually mean it. Stop throwing around “thank you’s” mindlessly. When someone serves you at a restaurant, or holds open the door, say thank you, but consciously think about why you are saying it and what action you are specifically thankful for.

Do something you don’t like every day.

This confused me at first, if I was trying to be more grateful, why would I do something I felt negatively about? However, the point is that I was doing something I didn’t like and finding a reason to do it and feel grateful for it. It helped alter my negative thinking into attempting to see the bright side in every situation.

Reward effort.

If someone does something nice for you, even if you personally do something good for yourself, reward it. It doesn’t have to be something physical like a cup of coffee or ice cream, it can be just taking a minute to listen to your favorite song, or offering someone a ride somewhere.

Begin social experiences with positivity.

Whether I’m getting together with family and friends, lately I’ve noticed that the first thing we do is complain or rant. I realized I only call my mom when I’m upset (sorry mom) or my friends and I would just start venting right off the bat. Now I try to actively start conversations with my loved ones talking about something happy or positive, even if I need to talk about something that upsets me later.

Show, not tell your loved ones how grateful you are for them.

Pick one person you love each day and make sure to have a positive conversation with them. Ask them about their day and how they are, and really take time to listen to them. Show them that you are there and want them to be a part of your life.

Accept negativity.

One of the common misconceptions about practicing gratitude is that you think you have to be happy all the time. It is okay to be upset or unhappy with a situation, take time for that if you need it. However, it’s important to not wallow in negativity forever, and get out of the negative situation by doing something you enjoy.

While these are some of the strategies that worker for me, there are a million other ways to develop an attitude for gratitude, and maybe you’d even be successful with a journal. With any new routine or habit, it’s important to start small. Don’t rush into gratitude,adopt little habits each day and before you know it, you will feel happier and healthier.