There are times when so much is going wrong in our lives that we forget how much is going right.
Do you ever feel like your business is an uphill struggle? Are your relationships with other people often strained? Do you have days when you feel frustrated, misunderstood, even angry?
I can relate.
Every entrepreneur goes through periods when life is hard and nothing seems to work.
But it is precisely in these bleak moments, when you feel the least grateful and the least positive, that it’s most important to express thankfulness for all that you have.
The simple act of saying thank you every day has had a profound effect on my life.
Gratitude has helped me dig myself out of more holes than I can count, transformed my relationships and attracted amazing quirky coincidences that other people would call “lucky”.
That’s why in today’s post I urge you to think differently about the power of gratitude.
Because expressing thanks is not just about being virtuous.
Religions have been teaching us for centuries that gratitude is the key to health and happiness. Now science is proving we experience many benefits by being thankful – mental, emotional and physical.
Research suggests that being grateful increases our mental alertness, gives our immune systems a boost and fights off depression.
More importantly, cultivating an attitude of gratitude stops you being a helpless victim. It enables you to take charge of your life.
With practice, you become less troubled by unexpected events and are able to handle difficulties more effectively.
It only takes a few moments a day, it’s easier than you think, and the results of practicing gratitude are plentiful. So, you might be wondering, how exactly can you incorporate gratitude into your life and will it even work?
Here are 5 great ways to cultivate gratitude with a few examples from my own life. Choose one or two that resonate with you and try them out for yourself.
I guarantee they will work for you too and you will soon be reaping the many rewards that gratefulness can bring.
1. Keep A Gratitude Journal
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a plain notebook will do. It’s what you write within the pages of your gratitude journal that matters most.
Write down anything you’re grateful for. Don’t judge your writing or worry about grammar or “sounding” silly.
You can even write it as a stream of consciousness.
Start with yourself, your life and the people closest to you. Go into detail and elaborate on each reason you’re thankful.
It could be appreciating your radiant health, your beating heart, your excellent memory, your strong legs, your loving spouse, your beautiful children, your supportive friends and so on.
Writing down all your blessings is a sure way to realize how much you already have to be grateful for – your health, the people you love but also your job and your home.
Even your job.
You may not be living your dream life right now, but it will always elude you if you curse the fact that you work for someone else.
Be grateful that you have money to pay your bills, put food on the table, keep a roof over your head and put clothes on your back.
These are not small, insignificant things.
There are millions of people in the world who are worse off than you. How many people do you think are living in squalor, walking miles to fetch clean drinking water, and working 15-hour days in dangerous sweat shop conditions?
Gratitude helps you shift from where you are today to where you want to be. It’s a subtle but effective way to miraculously improve your health, heal your relationships and change circumstances in your favor.
I recommend you write in your journal every day but if that’s not possible write in it as often as you can and reflect on your personal blessings.
2. Help Other People
Whether it’s your time, money, or even a smile, giving to others is a great way to practice gratitude. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, be expensive, or involve anything elaborate.
The key thing is that whatever you do, do it because you want to.
Let your help come from the heart with no expectations and no strings attached.
For instance, is someone you know going through a hard time in their marriage, career or business and just wants a listening ear? Do you have coaching, tech or web design skills that can help someone start an online business?
Even a simple hello and a friendly smile can make someone’s day.
Being kind for kindness’ sake is totally underrated in our society yet helping others blesses you in countless ways and can actually bring more good into your life.
You might say that you help people all the time but never get anything in return.
Think about it.
Have you never received a gift, money, a new client or a great deal on something you really wanted out of the blue?
I’d be surprised if you said no.
It doesn’t matter if it came from a different person or source, the fact is that most of us have at one time or another experienced something good without expecting it.
These types of “lucky” breaks happen to me all the time.
When you genuinely take an interest in others and help whenever you can, it’s not only the other person who benefits.
You do too!
It makes you feel good, you forget about your own problems and as a result you vibrate at a higher frequency that attracts more blessings to you.
3. Meditate Daily
I’ve written about the benefits of meditation before and want to emphasize it here because meditating helps you get into the vibration of gratefulness.
Let’s face it, life is difficult sometimes.
We can all get caught up in the commotion and find ourselves overwhelmed by our own feelings and situations not to mention other people’s dramas.
But it’s hard to feel grateful for anything when you’re one giant ball of stress.
Going into silent meditation for a few minutes can help you instantly relax and gain some perspective on life. It’s as good as going on vacation but without the price tag!
The interesting thing about meditation is that the more you do it, the more the effects get amplified.
If you meditate for just 20 minutes a day every day, within a very short time you will notice that you are getting mentally stronger and developing a deeper connection with life.
You will adopt a more optimistic outlook and be happy for no reason because meditation puts you in touch with who you are and your purpose in life.
4. Pray To A Higher Power
I’m not religious but I know many people who are, including my mother.
Maybe you are too?
If so, when life is throwing curve balls at you, it helps to find solace in your faith.
Sometimes there is nothing better than seeking help and guidance from your Creator or whichever higher power you believe in to bring everything that’s important back into focus.
If you need spiritual guidance, read your Bible, Quran, Torah or other religious scriptures.
Attend your place of worship.
Pray for strength, courage, peace.
But remember too to say prayers of thanks for all that you have and all the wonders that are yet to come.
Giving thanks shouldn’t just be reserved for Thanksgiving either.
You can cultivate an attitude of gratitude all year round by acknowledging the things you’re grateful for. All the major religions of the world teach about the importance of gratitude and there’s a reason for this.
Taking the time to pray can help you relax, rejuvenate, and realize how many blessings you have to be thankful for. Your prayers don’t have to be formal rituals either, simply waking up each morning and speaking directly to your Creator works too.
I love how the Dalai Lama puts it in the powerful quote above.
5. Show Your Appreciation
Think of all the people who have done something for you. You may have said “Thank you”, but did it come from the heart or was it just a knee-jerk reaction?
When was the last time you really thanked someone – and meant it?
And what about all the little things that people do for you every day that you take for granted?
For instance, when your child makes their bed or your husband brings you a special treat on his way home from work, do you express sincere appreciation?
It’s easy to criticize people when they make mistakes, but if that’s all you do, your relationships will soon deteriorate.
Human beings are sensitive creatures, even if we don’t always show it. No one likes to be constantly criticized so you must make sure you appreciate and praise the people in your life too.
I learned this lesson very early in my career. I made a point of praising and thanking my staff for their hard work, even if we missed our team targets one month.
This helped create a great team spirit and encouraged everyone to pull together and put in extra effort the following month to ensure we did better.
It’s the same for all your other relationships.
People thrive when they are appreciated.
Even if you are having a hard time in your marriage, with a close friend or family member, or even a business partner, resist the urge to shout and point the finger. Talk about your issues calmly and clearly but always look for the good and praise where possible.
You’ll notice that any issues will dissolve, your relationships will flourish and people will respond positively to your example.
The more you show appreciation for the small, everyday things people do and thank them consistently for making your world a better place, the more you will distinguish yourself as someone who is loving, respectful of others and a true leader.
So I’d like to end this post by saying THANK YOU to you dear reader. Thank you for sticking with me and reading my blog when there are so many others out there.
I truly appreciate you and hope that you can take some of these tips about gratitude and apply them to your own life.
Do you practice an attitude of gratitude? How has being thankful helped you in your life and business? Please share your thoughts below.