With Thanksgiving approaching, the phrase “have an attitude of gratitude” is everywhere. When I see this I often wonder, what exactly does this phrase mean, how does one develop an attitude of gratitude and how do you hold onto it when bad days come along?
So first, what does this phrase mean? To have an attitude of gratitude means appreciating what you do have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. It means being thankful for what we have AND for what we don’t have. It means looking at the hardships in life as an opportunity to learn, to grow stronger, rather than seeing rough times as the world being out to get us. It means staying in a positive mindset when everything around us seems to be going wrong and understanding that better things are coming. It means trusting in the Divine timing of things rather than trying to control when, where, and how everything occurs. As Adriene often says in her Yoga with Adriene practices, “Honor where you are now”.
Developing an “attitude of gratitude” takes practice. Staying in a gracious mindset is like working a muscle in your body. The more you work it, the more you practice with it, the stronger it gets and you develop muscle memory. It’s the same reason that people practice marital arts forms over and over again. They do it so much that they instinctively just know how to do it. In doing this, when the bad days come, you are more likely to be able to find the silver lining. Because you have practiced looking for the positive in things every day, when those bad days occur, you’ll look for the positive without even having to try to. It will be muscle memory.
Here are a few things that I have found helpful in making this gratitude muscle stronger:
1) Write down the things that you’re thankful for in your life. I’m sure that everyone has heard this one before. There’s a reason that people keep recommending it. Because it works. You don’t necessarily have to write down what you’re thankful for each day, but make the time to do it regularly. Not only does it help you to be grateful when you’re writing, but on those bad days, when things are less than stellar, it helps to look back and be reminded that they won’t be bad forever.
2) Surround yourself with grateful people. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” What that means is that the people you choose to surround yourself with affect you, for better or worse. Things about that for a minute. Who are the 5 people that you spend the most time with? Do those people reflect who you want to be? Are those people appreciative of what they have? Or do they constantly complain about the things that they don’t have? Find those that have a grateful mindset and learn from them. See how they do things differently, how they react differently in situations.
3) Get involved in some way with those who have less than you do. No matter how little you have, there is always someone who has less. Too often we are so focused on what we don’t have that we don’t even see all of the wonderful things that we do have. Unfortunately, for some people, they don’t see those things until they are gone. If you spend time with those who have less than you, you begin to see how truly blessed you really are. I’m not just talking about money. Someone could have all of the money in the world and have no family, no one around them that loves them. On the flip side, someone could have little to no money, but be surrounded by those that love them. I’m not saying that you have to give money. Go visit someone who has no family. Go to the animal shelter and walk the dogs or play with the cats there to give them exercise. There are endless possibilities for those that want to help others. Not only will this make someone else’s day, it will enrich your life in the process.
4) Show your gratitude, your appreciation, to those around you. If someone does something nice for you, tell them how much you appreciate it. Send them a handwritten note, an email, a text, or call. If an employee at a store is extra nice or helpful, tell the manager. People tend to only involve a manager when there is a problem. Put a smile on the managers face and the employee’s by letting them know the good things as well. It will make their day happier and they will be more likely to pass that smile along to someone else. Instead of assuming that people know you appreciate them, let them know.
5) Find a physical thing to serve as a reminder to be thankful. (This idea is one that I got from Brendon Buchard) Set an alarm on your phone for several times throughout your day. Each time it goes off, take a moment to think of something that you’re grateful for. Or use a door frame, a certain drawer, or a picture as a reminder. Each time you walk through a door, each time you open your desk drawer, each time you see a turtle, think thankful thoughts.
(If you read this post and post your own picture of a turtle on one of our social media pages, or just type the words “Found It” – Facebook and Instagram – we’ll draw one of your names to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Ends 12/8/19)
6) Find a way to shake off the negativity that inevitably happens in life. Try doing a video like Chris and Parisa Shelton’s “Gratitude Qi Flow”. Watch Brandon Farris and all of his hilarious antics. Watch Mark Borella’s “Feel Good Friday” videos. Take a walk. Anything that helps you laugh, relax, and remember that there are good things in life, even on days when you feel like there aren’t anymore.
7) Read last week’s post about being “The Silent Observer” for even more ideas.
Hopefully these ideas will help you to create that attitude of gratitude for yourself. I’m curious, what are some of the ways that you use to cultivate “an attitude of gratitude”?