I first discovered the benefits of thankfulness when browsing through one of my favorite idol's websites: Gala Darling. My favorite thing about her? She's always inspiring others and showing women worldwide how to practice gratitude. Darling is a woman of many talents; she is an author, a speaker, and a teacher, as well as being a truly inspirational and incredible woman, IMO. She has given a TED talk on Radical Self Love, and she even created a selection of courses and creative tools to help others achieve their dreams.
Beginners might think that practicing gratitude is as simple as saying "thank you" to people or remembering to be grateful, but it's actually a lot deeper than that. Gala explained on her website, "There is always, always, always something to be grateful for, and gratitude works for everyone, no matter what is going on in your life. It makes everyone’s life better. You could be happy or nervous, relaxed or dealing with anxiety on a daily basis. It doesn’t really matter, because I promise you, beauty is everywhere. It surrounds you absolutely. Next time you feel uneasy and uncomfortable, take a breath and choose to focus on the good things in your life."
It's easy to focus on the negative but practicing gratitude or as Darling calls it, "counting your blessings" can change your life. Here are seven ways to start practicing gratitude and focus on the positive instead.
1. Begin A Gratitude Blog
Darling recommended her personal habit of using Instagram as a visual gratitude diary; she has, "Things I Love Thursdays" posts on her blog, containing a ton of positive links and fun stuff for her readers, which is a great source of inspiration for completing this task. If you prefer talking it out, though, you could create your own personal gratitude vlog channel on YouTube and keep it private or share it with friends and family. For a quick burst of gratitude, you could even do a daily Tweet or Facebook status to spread the positivity. Sometimes it's the smallest things that have the biggest impact.
2. Start A Gratitude Jar
Follow Darling's advice on how to create a gratitude jar. The things you’re thankful for will pile up before you know it and when the time is right, possibly the start of a new year or when big changes happen in your life, you can unfold each one, read it, and be thankful.
3. Create A Gratitude Collage
Sit down with a large piece of card and a stack of photos. Cut out images of friends, family, or pets you are grateful to have in your life, pictures of places you have been, shows you’ve seen, or anything that resonates with you. When you’re done you’ve got a great piece of art to hang on your wall to remind you of all the things you’re grateful for in your life. You could even do this digitally if you’re a whizz with Photoshop. This would also make an awesome present for a loved one; you could cut, stick, and paste images of reasons why you are grateful to have them in your life or even write them down on a handmade card if you don’t have many pictures.
4. Write A Gratitude List
Another method Darling recommends is making a list of 10 things you’re grateful for every morning and night. You could do this in a notebook or if you want an eco-friendly method you could write it on a chalkboard or whiteboard and take a picture of it each day to keep a visual photo diary.
5. Record Thankful Sound Bites
If you’re an auditory learner or you’re a bit stuck for time, this could be a great method for you. Every time something great happens to you, record it into a dictaphone or a smartphone. After a week you will have a whole week’s worth of things you are grateful for. You could put these sound bites on to your computer and group them into weeks so that after a while you can listen back to a collection of positive moments. Another great take on this would be to do this with a friend or partner and swap at the end of the week so that you get to hear all of the things they were grateful for too.
6. Create A Clay Scene
If you are a creative soul and love to use your hands, you may enjoy this method the most. It would also be a fun project to work on with roommates, or kids if you have children, nieces, or nephews. So grab some Play-Doh or artist’s clay and think about all of the things that made you happy that day. Begin to make a little representation of this with the Play-Doh or clay. For instance, a stranger might have smiled at you so you might form a little face with a smile.
This doesn’t have to be a work of art, just something simple that symbolizes the reason why you’re grateful. After this, you can either assemble your little scene somewhere where you can see it for the rest of the next day before you make another one the following evening, or if that’s not practical in your living space you can take a photo of it and set it as the background on your phone, tablet, or computer to remind you of the things you were grateful for that day.
7. Write A Haiku Or Poem
To get your creative juices flowing and ensure you remember all of the things which made you grateful on a particular day, why not compile a haiku or poem including them? You don’t have to be the next Shakespeare or a literary genius and you don’t even have to show anyone your finished work. However, if you do this every day you will be left with a collection of poetry which you should be proud of. You could even leave some of it (anonymously if you desire) in public places, such as on a park bench or on the subway, to inspire others to reflect on what they’re grateful for too.
8. Turn It Into A Game
In an email to Bustle, Darling says that her best tip for gratitude is to turn it into a game with yourself. "Try to name five to ten things every morning and evening that you're thankful for, and encourage others to join in." A gratitude game? I'll try it.
Pick your favorite practice and your life will be filled with gratitude and positivity before you know it!