What one thing can turn a difficult time into a less difficult time? A bad day into a better day? Scarcity into abundance?
An attitude of gratitude.
Why is gratitude so powerful? Gratitude is defined as feeling thankful and appreciative for all the things: Actual things we possess, relationships, circumstances, and situations in our life. Basically, we can feel gratitude for anything that brings us happiness. One important aspect of gratitude is awareness—noticing what we have to be grateful for. That’s where some people stumble when it comes to gratitude: They’re too busy with all the craziness and stressfulness of life to notice all the things they have to be grateful for. But, when we can make a conscious effort to be grateful for both the big and the small things in our lives, it can make a huge difference. We like how author Greg McKeown explains gratitude:
Powerful, right?! Simply being grateful can make whatever we have enough. And in a world where it feels like we’re constantly bombarded with all the noise that we should be getting and doing more and more, gratitude can get rid of that non-stop noise that is often centered around what we think or have been told that we lack.
The Benefits of Gratitude
When we make the time to notice the things around us that we are and should be grateful for, we can experience the many benefits of gratitude firsthand, and these benefits can positively affect all areas of our lives! Check these out:
Better physical health.
Grateful people are more likely to take better care of themselves physically, exercise more frequently, sleep better, get regular wellness check-ups, have a healthier immune system, experience reduced aches and pains, have a lower risk of heart failure, and enjoy healthier aging.
Better mental health.
Experts have discovered that being grateful can reduce depression, aggression, stress, trauma, and other negative emotions while increasing self-esteem, happiness, productivity, and empathy for others.
Simply showing gratitude to others can strengthen relationships. Who doesn’t like to feel appreciated, after all?!
Greater awareness of how blessed we are
Greater awareness of how blessed we are even—and especially—during difficult times. Being grateful for what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have can be a powerful mindset change.
Tips for Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
If having an attitude of gratitude is sometimes difficult for you, or if you simply want to strengthen that attitude, here are some things you can do to make sure that gratitude is a bigger part of your daily life.
Look for things to be grateful for. It’s sometimes so much easier to notice the negative than the positive, right? Especially during difficult times. It’s also extremely easy to take the things you have around you all the time for granted—things like your family, your friends, running water, food in the fridge, your job, being able to take a walk, amazon delivery, 😉 a car to drive, and so on. You get the picture. But, when you’re actively looking for things to be grateful for, even the tiniest things, you can change your mindset from a negative one into an attitude of continuous gratitude. Side note: If you ever want to be reminded of all the too-common-to-notice things around you that you can be grateful for, spend some time with a toddler or a young child. Your eyes will be opened very quickly to all the little things you have to be grateful for!
Practice a gratitude mindset. Practice really does make perfect, even with an attitude of gratitude, so spend some time each day thinking about a few things you’re grateful for. Science has shown that doing this for 8 weeks can actually rewire your brain to be more grateful!
Keep a daily gratitude journal. This might look like an actual journal, a list in your phone, notes in your calendar, or whatever works best for you. When you’ve committed to yourself to write down what you’re grateful for each day, you’ll be more likely to notice things you might have missed otherwise. This practice, alone, can make a huge difference in your life!
We have a place for you to keep a gratitude list in The Transform App! Not only will you get several workout programs (including at-home and gym-based), over 600 recipes to choose from, and step and hydration trackers, but you also get your own journaling section.
Turn a complaint into gratitude. One well-known author shares that when he finds himself complaining about something, he then has to say something he’s grateful for. And let’s be honest: Sometimes this can be so much harder than other times, especially on difficult days and during times when you’re struggling. But when you can make that switch from complaining to thanking, you can start to reap more of the benefits of gratitude. Let’s try an experiment:
- Complain about something (whether out loud or in your head).
- Think about something you’re grateful for.
How did you feel when you were complaining versus being grateful? It’s two very different feelings, right? So, the next time you hear yourself complaining, immediately think of something you’re grateful for.
Say “Thank you” more often. This tip might seem so simple, but it can be so powerful. Not only will this show how grateful you are to others for what they do for you, but it will also make you more aware of things to be grateful for.
Serve others. One way to realize how blessed you are is by serving those who are going through difficult times. This is especially important when you’re going through hard times yourself. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” When you can focus on others, your own problems often seem less important, and you’ll feel even more gratitude for what you do have too. Difficulties and all.
One last thing…No matter what is going on in your life, even on the hardest days, there is always something to be grateful for. Always. Take the tips we’ve shared, cultivate your own attitude of gratitude, and watch it spread to others too. Because gratitude is contagious!