How do I become more Grateful?
Useful strategies, techniques and activities to ACTIVELY and CONSCIOUSLY increase a spirit of gratitude
1. Gratitude Journal – A gratitude journal is a great place to start actively increasing your awareness of and appreciation for events, people, opportunities, etc. that you can be grateful for. My suggestion based on research and personal experience is to use a script similar to one found in the book, The Magic, by Rhonda Byrne. I personally use, “I am so grateful for ___________ because I feel ___________.”
Why is feeling so important? Quantum physicists are now learning that our decision making actually happens as a result of what we feel as opposed to the belief once held that our feelings are a reaction to our decision making. This is a HUGE scientific discovery as it further proves what many authors and experts in the area of growth and development have taught, that we can actually feel our way to a more fulfilling and happier life.
I highly suggest the book The Magic in its entirety, but if I could recommend one single habit that has the highest rate of life transforming capability, keeping a daily gratitude journal of 5-10 things your grateful for and why (the feeling behind the thing) would be top on my list.
2. Thank You Letter – In his book, A Simple Act of Gratitude, John Kralick tells his own personal story of transformation. From a desperate and very bleak outlook he decides to write a thank you letter every day for one year as a New Year Resolution and the changes in his life are astounding.
While we may take the time to write thank you cards for the obvious gifts, taking the time to write a heartfelt letter of appreciation when it is least expected can mean so much to the person receiving it, but it can also do amazing things in our own lives.
Consider a challenge of writing a thank you card every week for a year or every day for a month.
3. Gratitude Inventory - Create a list of 100 things that you’re grateful for. If it helps, divide your list into different categories, such as assets, people, internal qualities, experiences, etc.
You can also use photos or create a Gratitude Board if a more visual representation suits you.
Try to also think of the feelings created by each item you list. Remember, our power comes from our feelings!
4. Gratitude Walk – Go out for a walk with the simple intention of finding as many things as possible to be grateful for. It may be a simple as an autumn breeze, the beautiful leaves turning color, or even just the ability you have to walk. Try to stay in the moment and “feel” as much gratitude and happiness as you can.
5. Gratitude Sign – Place a sign or other trigger somewhere in your home you’ll see it often. Consciously determine that you will pause for a moment of appreciation when you read the sign.
I created a sign that says, 'TODAY I AM THANKFUL' and I keep it in my entryway as a reminder to always choose to be grateful. Similar ideas can be found on the internet or it can even be a simple post it note on the mirror that serves as a reminder.
6. See through the eyes of a stranger – Pretend you are being introduced to a stranger for the first time and your job is to sell your best life. Include every detail about all the wonderful and amazing things in your life. Sometimes we need to step back and look with this perspective because we begin to take our lives for granted.
7. Four Questions – Asking four simple questions at the end of the day is great way to recap and refocus on being grateful before going to bed. These questions will bring positive feelings to the forefront of your mind – Who or what inspired me today? What touched me today? What made me smile or laugh today? What was the very best thing that happened today?
8. Negative to Positive – Pick one less than ideal situation you are faced with and determine at least one thing you can feel grateful for about the situation. This is a great technique to use when you feel stuck or feel like you’re in a rut because it forces you to think outside of your box a little.
An example of this from my own life: My dad died at 43 years old and it was a very hard time for me. He had just moved in with me and my son found him dead one morning at the age of 2. In the initial moment I was terribly sad for my loss and the loss my younger siblings were feeling, however, as healing began to happen through many remarkable ways I was able to build upon the smallest positives I could find. In the beginning it was simply that I now knew that I was strong enough to live through what I once thought imaginable, but gradually over time my list grew. I decided that I would start a non-profit to honor my dad which made a profound impact on many lives, including mine. I met my biological sister and now enjoy having a relationship with her. I met my current husband and was able to be there for him when his mom unexpectedly passed. I’ve had the great privilege of keeping a very close relationship with my siblings and mom because we know just how important life is. I could go on and on, but basically my point is this – There is ALWAYS something you can choose to be thankful for. I’ve found for me it helps to make a game out of it, especially with a seemingly negative event. The more positives you list the more seem to come to mind (or, even better, they begin to happen).
9. Gratitude Jar or Tree – This is a great way to increase gratitude within your home. If you are crafty and or enjoy visual representation you can use twigs or branches and cut leaves out of paper. Encourage your family to write one thing each day that they are grateful for on a leaf and hang it on the tree. Not so crafty... write on slips of paper and fill a jar. Then, randomly choose a few from the tree or jar each week and spend time as a family talking about them. This will increase awareness and, also, give much more feeling and power to the things we are grateful for.
10. Meditation or Prayer – Many religions teach gratitude through prayer or meditation. It is a time to reflect upon the things we are grateful for in the present moment and express, to God or the Universe or whatever we call our Higher Power, our gratitude for those things.
Prayer and/or meditation can look different for everyone. Some people pray in very specific ways or use a mantra repeated each day as a prayer. Some people feel connected and enjoy expressing gratitude verbally while others enjoy being in nature and just reflecting. Some people enjoy expressing gratitude through writing in the form of a prayer. There are also people who meditate to express gratitude and many different techniques to consider. Some meditate in complete stillness and others meditate as they walk or perform some task they find enjoyable. There are also many apps available for guided meditations.
You probably already do this in some form. What works for you may not work the same for someone else. I highly recommend exploring this area and coming up with several options that you enjoy.
These are just a few suggestions to increase gratitude and abundance. There are many other great techniques as well. The key to increasing abundance and gratitude lies in emotion, so any technique that brings about positive feelings of gratitude will surely bring about more experiences and events to feel grateful for.