Full Disclosure: To be totally upfront and honest, I’m pretty new to the world of gratitude.
It didn’t become a regular practice in my life until recently. I only learned about the concept five years ago from a friend, Marcia.
Since we are on the topic of gratitude, I absolutely need to thank Marcia for changing my life – in a fantastic way.
Thank you, Marcia. I am forever grateful we met!Me (Kristi)
A Path to Gratitude – Hoping this Helps You!
As I stated before, I learned about gratitude from my friend, Marcia. She introduced the concept to me by talking about her 5-Minute Journal.
Initially, I was not on board with the concept of a journal. I also didn’t really feel as though practicing gratitude would help me to feel better.
So, it took time for me to implement the practice… perhaps I wasn’t quite in the right stage of change, readiness, or willingness to learn. I was definitely in the contemplation stage at the time. Or, maybe the reason was that my intention behind practicing gratitude wasn’t fully formed yet.
Things changed for me when my grandmother passed away several months later, I could no longer continue down the path I had been on.
It was time for a change. And, it started with purchasing the 5-Minute Journal. Admittedly, the journal sat on the dining room table for a while before I used it. Again, my level of readiness wasn’t quite there.
Eventually, I picked it up and started using it. Initially, my use of the 5-Minute Journal was overwhelming and complicated — I’m telling you this so if you struggle, you know you are not alone!
On any given day, I didn’t have many ah-MAZ-ing things happening in my life. Remember, I was grieving, so that clouded my perspective. This made it difficult for me to write down three things I was grateful for everyday.
There were plenty of days I wanted to fill in the lines in the journal but just couldn’t. I would even recycle the same gratitudes from one day to the next. Or, write down the basics of life, such as the fact I woke up or I had two legs that allowed me to walk to the mailbox.
As I learned to be grateful for the basics of life, I started to see other aspects of life in a new light. As the days and months passed, I eventually found myself trying to scale back my gratitudes for the day to fit within the three small lines provided.
Talk about change! As a flexed my gratitude muscle, it got stronger and listing my gratitudes got longer and longer.
Learning an Attitude of Gratitude for You & Applying to Your Daily Life
Gratitude, as defined by Oxford Dictionary
gratitude (noun): the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
To elaborate some more, let’s start with…
What Gratitude IS NOT…
Gratitude does not require us to celebrate major life milestones, huge events or successes, or earth-shattering good news. The problem is, many of us think that gratitude must be one of these major life events.
- Gratitude is not
- Meeting your soul mate.
- Getting married or having a baby.
- Landing our dream job and making 6-figures.
- Buying a new car.
While you can be grateful for all these things, you do not need to have any of them to express gratitude.
What Gratitude IS…
Being thankful for the small things that take place in everyday life. Here are a few examples:
- The way your dog gets excited to see you when you get home.
- A hug from a little kid without being asked. Or,
- The way a smile from a stranger makes you feel good even on the worst day.
Gratitude gives you a reason (well, many of them) to be happy.
Examples of Gratitude
Gratitude can also be appreciating the blessings we have in our life, especially those we often take for granted.
For example, waking up this morning with a beating heart, being able to talk to our loved ones and tell them how much we love them, or the physical ability to engage in the little things of life, such as being able to walk to the mailbox or seeing the clouds float by in the wind.
Gratitude is taking a moment to acknowledge the blessings in your life. Even when life feels difficult, there is always something to appreciate.
For example, in a COVID world, it means being thankful for being able to spend more time with your family, even if you are struggling with employment or having a hard time getting your kids to finish their school work (that last one is personal!).
Being grateful does NOT mean your life is perfect. In fact, gratitude really is about embracing the imperfections of life and appreciating what you do have.
A little food for thought (Gratitude Quotes!!)
“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.” – Douglas Wood
“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things you lack.” Germany Kent
Gratitude in a COVID World
Like with many people, COVID has brought changes into our lives that have made it more difficult than ever to cope with everyday life. At the same time, I am reminded that we have had new opportunities which have never been available until now.
A great example of this – having more time to teach my kids basic life skills, such as meal planning and cooking. Mostly because we have fewer appointments, events, and commitments.
Another silver lining, my kids have been able to spend several weeks with family. While doing school online, it meant they could be anywhere. So, I drove them to stay with grandparents for five weeks
This never would have been possible had they not been doing online school. I’m pretty sure their grandparents appreciated being able to get some quality time together. (And, I appreciated the break!!)
While COVID life has certainly been filled with struggles, shifting our focus to appreciate the things we do have in life is an amazing way to shift perspective and find happiness. This change in perspective allows an attitude of gratitude to guide our focus.
Gratitude reminds us that even on our most difficult days we have plenty to appreciate and that brings happiness into our world.
Gratitude: Actionable Steps to Take Today
1. Download this freebie – 28 Day Gratitude Jar Prompt document
2. Take time each day to list 3-5 things you are grateful for.
Note, this doesn’t have to take extra time out of your day. I know you are already a busy person. So, try making this list while you are doing something you normally do.
For example, while brushing your teeth, list three things you are grateful for. Or, while you are driving to school/work. You could even take a few moments to list our your gratitudes while eating dinner.
3. Enlist others to be grateful with you.
Beyond Thanksgiving! Make a regular practice of discussing the things you are grateful for with others. Here are some ideas:
- Start work meetings (or Zoom calls) with one thing each person is grateful to have in their life today.
- Incorporate the talk of gratitude into conversations at the dinner table.
- When someone is upset (or complaining about something), ask them to think of one thing going well in their life. If they struggle to list one, give them a nudge and help them out. Or, share one of your own to get the positive thoughts flowing.
- Text a friend with something you are grateful for everyday.
- You might be thinking you need more ideas to practice an attitude of gratitude right now. But, I encourage you to start small with these ideas.
- Count your blessings before eating dinner with the family.
If you are struggling with the gratitude, these ideas could feel a little difficult and overwhelming. Don’t let that discourage you — It will get easier with time. So perseverance is critical here!
When I first started my gratitude journey, I also read a few books that helped me to understand the concept more. One of tGood hose books was The Happiness Project by the author Gretchen Rubin. I also found comfort in reading Brené Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection. It might not be a book specifically about gratitude, but it helped me to reframe my way of thinking to be more positive. And, see the world in a new light, especially in the realm of perfectionism.
Wrapping it Up
When you use your 28 Day Gratitude Prompts document, I hope you share your list of gratitudes with others. By sharing our gratitudes with others, the result is like a ripple effect of positivity—that is the magic of gratitude! Great things come of it. 💗
I’d love to see your gratitude practice, so tag me on social @bringabouthappy.
Good days start with gratitude!
The links included in this article are not affiliate links. I do not receive any form of compensation from them.
Last Updated on September 15, 2022 by Kristi Coughlin