Gratitude is powerful stuff, for a reason: It’s directly linked to happiness and peace. Here are some tips to help you practice gratitude to lead a happier life
Our brains are designed to prioritize survival, protection and safety — not happiness. Of course, we have periods where we are happy and content, but often people find themselves in a negative mindset. It takes practice to live a happier life and be a more grateful and self-aware person, and this is not a change that happens overnight.
Here are 10 ways to practice gratitude every day and help yourself become a happier person:
1. Be conscious of keeping a positive mindset
Be constantly aware of when your brain is in a negative mindset and then refocus it to the positive aspects of your life. To do this, spend a couple of minutes thinking about the positives in your life, three times a day for a month until it becomes a habit for your brain to think positive. When something negative happens in your day, try to see the positive from it, to find a silver lining. If you’re struggling, come up with a daily mantra to repeat to yourself during these times. This can be as simple as “Today is a beautiful day” or “I am grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful people.”
2. Find a healthy work-life balance
Work tends to take up a large part of our day, and then we tend to take a lot of our work stresses home with us. To avoid this, try picking up an activity, sport, or hobby outside of working hours. And make sure you’re saving time for exercising and interacting with friends and family. This healthy balance will reduce your work stress and create more positive moments and emotions in your day – experiences that you can be grateful for.
3. Treat each new day as a gift
Every day we are alive is a gift. If you wake up with the mentality that you want to make the most of each day, it will allow you to enjoy life’s pleasures. Keep a gratitude journal and write one thing you’re grateful for each day. This will help you focus on what you have in your life instead of what you don’t have. It can also be an insightful way to pause and really think about what you’re feeling inside.
4. Spend time outdoors
It can be easy to be lost in technology with all the gadgets at our fingertips these days. That’s why it is so important to go for a walk, hike, or even a drive. All of these are cleansing ways to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Enjoying the ocean, fields, trees, animals, and flowers around you can help you feel part of something bigger and interconnected. The more time you spend disconnecting from our technological chains and surrounding yourself by nature, the more you will feel connected to the world around you which will result in an increase in your overall happiness and positivity in the everyday moments.
5. Compliment and thank others
People feel good when they receive true compliments, especially about their personalities or creative work as opposed to material goods they own. Everyone has good qualities and letting people know how their qualities are improving your life is not only beneficial to them and their happiness, but it will also make you feel better by creating a positive environment around you.
Try to compliment at least one person per day and watch your positivity increases. Better yet, remember to thank others who touch your life.
Writing thank you notes to others is a perfect way to acknowledge those around you, and everyone enjoys opening them. Who knows, maybe one day you will receive one yourself at a low point in your life from someone whose life was changed for the better because of you.
6. Make a vow not to complain for a month
This is a difficult one because complaining feels good and is easy for people to do. But complaining accesses the negative feelings our brains are wired to have and can become a habit that creates a toxic environment around you and bring others down. Instead, try to see if you can go for one day, one week, or even a month straight without complaining. This includes complaints about your job, your friends, your commute, even the weather. This is harder than it seems at first, but it really makes you think about your reactions and attitudes to daily things that occur in your life. It also makes you think twice before deciding to react in a positive or negative way. Great things happen to people when they give up complaining; their careers and relationships improve as well as their health.
7. Foster important and positive relationships
Happiness and gratitude are linked to the people around you — your friends, family, and community. Humans by nature need to connect with others and have a tribe supporting and understanding us. Without these relationships, we feel lonely and moodier. Don’t underestimate the importance of cultivating friendships in your life and spending the time you need with the people around you.
Take it one step further by seeking out friendships with people who are happy and inspire you.
If you hang out with too many gloomy people, you’ll end up getting bummed out yourself. This isn’t to say that if a friend is going through a hard time you should abandon them, quite the opposite, but if you have people in your life who are constantly negative and complaining, it will inevitably rub off on you.
8. Don’t take things for granted
It’s easy to take for granted the good things in your life. If you wake up every day in a healthy body surrounded by people who love you, you may start neglecting this until you could wake up without them. Recognize how good your life is, and that your daily frustrations are minor and easily forgotten. If something is in your control to change, do so. When things are going well, acknowledge them and celebrate these moments. Some things might happen that are out of your control, but you never want to have regrets about how you lived your life or not telling someone how you felt. Take each moment as it comes, then soak it in, appreciating the beauty in each minute.
9. Do what makes you happy
This is perhaps one of the most important points on the list. The best thing you can do to be your happiest self is to be yourself, with no pretense and no self-doubt. Stop seeking the approval of others. Find out who you really are and how you define yourself. What are your values, desires, and beliefs? When you strip away everything at the surface, what kind of person are you?
Learn how to be comfortable and independent on your own, without others. When you have accepted yourself, it’s much easier to find happiness.
These days, it’s true that this is easier said than done. The overload of social media can make us feel like everyone is leading a better, happier, richer, and more beautiful life than our own. In reality, it’s rarely true, and even if it were, being consumed by envy and resentment prevents us from being aware and grateful of what we have in our own lives. If you’re unhappy in your job, it’s never too late to change career paths. It’s more and more common for people to change careers and pursue non-traditional employment paths. Think about what drives you and interests you the most — then focus on creating a career in that field. When you’re passionate about your job, you will immediately become a happier and more grateful person.
10. Be mindful
A simple exercise of practicing mindfulness can make all the difference to your overall happiness. At the start and end of each day, take a moment to think about every positive thing the day can bring. At the end of the day consider all the little positives that occurred. Observe them, but don’t ruminate on them.
This is a sort of meditation that focuses your awareness on the present moment, that you are at the center of these high-vibration events.
You can also accept that you may be feeling low or disappointed about some thing or event. This will help reduce your stress by acknowledging the situation and reframing the way you are handling it. This practice allows you to be more at peace with yourself and self-assured.
To practice gratitude is to lead a happier life. This can be difficult when we go through tough times in our lives like job insecurity, breakups, health issues or the death of a loved one. If you’ve spent your whole life practicing gratitude, however, it becomes much easier to do so in hard times because you understand the benefits: helping yourself to heal and understand. Many studies have shown that grateful people are 25% more positive in their overall lives, feeling higher positive emotions like love, joy, optimism and enthusiasm. By following these tips outlined above, it becomes much easier to create a habit of positivity and happiness.
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