We talk a lot about gratitude. Feeling grateful for what we have and what we're doing is a major part of an amazing life, and becoming intentional about it is life-changing.
But what does it mean to “practice gratitude?” I think it probably looks different for everyone, but the key is to put the appreciation you have for your life at the front of your mind as you go through the day. Maybe, eventually, instead of saying, “Ugh, this traffic is terrible and I'll never get home!” We can say, “I'm grateful for this time to listen to my favorite music or audio book, spend time with this person who's in the car with me, or slow down enough to notice the neighborhood I'm passing through.”
Gratitude makes us happier and gives perspective to challenging situations. Gratitude for being alive and living in an amazing city makes a fender bender seem much easier to handle, and when you approach it that way you're more open to connecting with the person in the other car—who might end up being someone who can provide a service you need, or who needs what you provide. Who knows? But why not find out?
If you're not intentionally practicing gratitude yet, it's time to start. Try these:
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Every day, write down a few things you're thankful for. You could pick a number, like three, or you could commit to filling a page or writing non-stop for five or 10 minutes. When you start writing these things down, you notice how many little things we normally take for granted.
Two birds with one stone! Let “thank you” be your mantra, and mentally list off the many things you're thankful for.
Every time I find a penny on the street, a parking spot by the door on a cold day, or no lines at the grocery store, I say a silent thank you.
Make It Intentional
We have “thanks” on autopilot for when the teller completes our bank transactions or when the waiter brings our entrees, but what happens when you look at the person, smile, and say thank you because you truly are grateful for the service they've provided, not just because it's the thing to say?
See our list of five thank you notes you should write, and set to work. Think of people from your past as well as your present, and maybe even your future. It's great if you can send them, but if not, that's okay, too. The act of writing it down further infuses your life with gratitude.
How do you practice gratitude?