Most of us have it pretty good — or even pretty great. But for some reason, our #blessed lives often go unnoticed or unappreciated. When that's the case, it's important to take a step back and practice some gratitude in order to gain perspective. Once you do, you'll be able to appreciate all the good things you've got going on.
It really is no wonder, though, that so many of us don't stop to be grateful for all that we have. After all, our culture constantly hammers into our heads that we have to be better, be more successful, get more stuff, etc. It's exhausting, and it can totally blind you to all the successes you do have.
That's not to say everyone should settle for their current lives. If you have goals, then by all means go get 'em. A little bit of unhappiness with your current situation will definitely propel you where you need to go. But there's a huge difference between the unsettled feeling that happens when you're blind to what you already have, and a genuine desire to do more with your life.
Once you figure out which is which, you can start practicing gratitude. And with it will come an appreciation for your successes, for the people in your life, and for your health. You'll even be more appreciative of little things, like a stranger opening the door for you. Trust me, gratitude makes your whole day — and life — feel so much better.
If this sounds like something you need to do, then check out these ways to practice gratitude everyday.
1. Go Out And Help Others Right Now
Volunteering is a win-win for everyone. You're helping a person, or cause, in need while also gaining perspective about your own life. Helping those less fortunate can be totally eye opening to how good you have it. As Lynne Goldberg notes on TinyBuddha.com, "Become involved in a cause that is important to you. As you become aware of other people who are less fortunate than you, you will start to feel a deeper appreciation for what you do have."
2. Stop Wishing You Were Somewhere Else
One of the greatest ruiners of gratitude is wishing you were somewhere, anywhere, else. Whether you're pining away for what once was, or daydreaming about the future, it totally takes you away from what's happening now. When you're not living in the moment, you're essentially blind to all the good stuff going on around you, and it makes it nearly impossible to feel grateful. As Goldberg notes, "The habit of being fully present and not wishing for something in the future or the past — but just being grateful for what is — can really shift your perspective. Catch yourself when that moment escapes you, and gently remind yourself to come back."
3. Feel Content With What You Already Have
Everything you have right now — your car, your clothes, your job, your relationship — are things you once wished for. But now that you have them, it's easy to let the shine wear off. So take a moment every now and then to appreciate the fact you snagged the job, or got the car, or maintained the relationship. Appreciation can help you look at what you already have with fresh eyes.
4. Keep A Gratitude Journal
You may already know about the ol' gratitude journal trick, but have you ever actually given it a try? Take a few minutes to jot down all the good stuff that happened to you during the day, no matter how small. Focusing on the positive things in your life can really turn around your negative way of thinking. As Lindsay Holmes notes on HuffingtonPost.com, "Research has shown that writing down what you're thankful for can lead to a multitude of wellness benefits. Keeping a gratitude journal can reinforce positive thoughts — something particularly helpful as the brain tends to naturally focus on what goes wrong."
5. Take A Break From Complaining About Everything
Many of us complain without even realizing it. We whine about the weather and about being tired and about not wanting to go to work. These things may feel horrible (how can you not complain about zero degree weather?) but focusing in on it makes it all so much worse. Do a little experiment, and try to cut back on the complaints as a way of feeling more positive. As suggested by life coaching website Unstuck.com, "Vow to not complain, criticize, or gossip for 10 days. If you slip, rally your willpower and keep going. Notice the amount of energy you were spending on negative thoughts and actions."
6. Hang Out With Loved Ones
Surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you, and you're bound to feel pretty darn awesome. According to Holmes, "Thankful people know they didn't get to where they are by themselves — and they make it a habit to spend time with those people who matter most. Expressing appreciation for loved ones can also help create a closeness by allowing others to see how you look at them."
7. Appreciate The Little Things
It's often the little things that go unnoticed that we should be focusing on — a stranger holding a door open, your SO bringing you coffee, the helpful cashier at the drugstore. These little exchanges and niceties are a positive part of the day. Take notice of them, and then do the same for others. As Holmes notes, "Small acts of kindness make a difference in a big way when it comes to cultivating gratitude. Thankful people make it a habit to acknowledge and pay forward each bit of kindness that comes their way, whether it's a simple compliment, help on a task or getting flowers 'just because.'"
Being grateful is as simple as appreciating the little things in life, but doing so can make a really big impact on how you feel on a daily basis.
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