It’s hard, I know. And most of the time you don’t feel like doing it — I know that too. How? Because I’m struggling with this myself. But I’ve seen the benefits it gives you and they’re undeniable. It’s totally worth adding this to your life, even if it will take some effort.
What is this thing I’m talking about?
Now you’re probably thinking: “What on earth is he talking about? I thought this blog was about life optimization and not some new age woo woo stuff.”
Well, you’re right. I’m all about optimizing your life. I want to help you learn, grown, and live better. And for that, I’m open to anything. I’m willing to experiment with any new trend, app, or method that comes along.
As you can imagine, that’s a pretty long list. From low-carb and intermittent fasting to meditation and polyphasic sleep, I’ve tried them all. I haven’t written about all of them either because I’m not yet convinced or because they haven’t worked.
But gratitude is different. It’s definitely in the what really works category.
Admittedly, I was skeptical at first (as I usually am). Like most good things in my life, the idea of practicing gratitude came from my wife. I considered it, tried it, and before long, the skeptic inside me turned into a practitioner. But before I tell you how we’ve implemented it in our lives, let’s first have a look at what gratitude actually is.
What is gratitude and how does it work?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.
Good to know. Not let’s break this down.
Gratitude means being ready to show appreciation. But I say it’s more than that. Being ready is not enough. You should be actively looking for situations in which you can be thankful.
Take a moment and think about your day until now. It was probably littered with opportunities for being grateful, which just passed by unnoticed. But you can easily change that. The next time someone opens the door for you or surprises you with a cup of coffee, take a moment to look them in the eye and say: Thank you. Show them that you really appreciate their gesture, however small. It will make both your days a little bit brighter.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful. What you’re thankful for is less important here. It’s all about realizing that there are good things in your life. From small stuff like having a good meal or discovering a great article (like this one), to bigger goals like getting a promotion or setting a new personal record in the gym — these are all reasons to be thankful.
But we tend to ignore them. We switch from one task to the next and rush from an important phone-call directly into a cab to catch our next meeting. And if we somehow manage to have 2-3 minutes of idle time in between, we use them to check Facebook or Twitter.
I’m guilty of this myself. That’s why I’m proposing a solution.
Make gratitude a habit
Try and incorporate an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness in your life. It will seem awkward at first. But the results will soon follow. Keep doing it and you will see improvements in your attitude toward life, in your relationships, and your overall well-being.
I know it sounds a bit weird. But it works. So here are a few ideas to help you incorporate gratitude in your life.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Take a pen and paper, grab a hot cup of tea, and find a quiet spot at the end of your day. Then jot down the good things that happened to you today. It doesn’t have to be long. Just write “I am thankful for” and list 3 things. No matter how bad your day was, you can always find 3 things you’re grateful for.
- Do it before bed. If you don’t like the idea of a journal, then just do the same thing without writing it down. Right before going to sleep, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Rewind your whole day, but only focus on finding the good things that happened. Be grateful for them. This will help you wind down even after a stressful day and help you get a good sleep.
- Say it out loud. For this, you can use your partner, your best friend, or even your mother. Pick someone special and thank him/her for something. This is what my wife and I started doing. It’s a small gesture, but at the end of a busy day it makes a really big difference.
Now it’s your turn. Pick one method, or all three if you like. Go out there and tell someone you’re thankful for something they did. It’s free and easy. And sometimes it’s all it takes to turn a bad day around.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others – Cicero