Life can be so stressful. It's too easy to lose sight of what's important and get sucked into the day-to-day routine of life...
Most of us are constantly under pressure and on the go with our fast-paced lives, including work, families, and extracurriculars. With all of the stress and attempts to find that ever-elusive "work-life balance," it's only natural for us to occasionally feel worn out or even a bit down from time to time.
The good news is that something as simple as refocusing your attention from your challenges to acknowledging the things that you are grateful for in your life can instantly boost your mood.
Multiple studies show that practicing gratitude on a regular basis can raise your mood and also boost your self-esteem, will power, long term health, and even your level of success in life. In his book, Gross National Happiness, author Arthur C. Brooks argues that we don't even need to actually feel grateful in the moment, we just need to act like it. Just like the old adage goes, "fake it 'til you make it" applies to feelings of gratitude as well.
To keep you from feeling constantly overwhelmed, frustrated, and stressed out, here are 6 strategies to get you started on your gratitude practice.
1. Keep a list of the things you’re grateful for. The next time that you feel angry, frustrated, or a bit depressed, make a list and literally count your blessings. Making a list helps you to stop obsessing over the current situation, and puts the information out of your head and onto paper.
Don't stop at just one list. Consider keeping a journal to record the things and events in your life for which you are grateful. Over time, you create a tangible record of all of the positive aspects of your life. I highly recommend Moorea Seal's awesome list-making book 52 Lists for Happiness.
2. Start the day on a positive note. Set the tone and focus for the rest of your day by taking a few moments each morning to review the positive things in your life.
Self-questions can be a great way to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Good questions to ask include: “What's something good that is happening right now,” “What opportunities await me today,” or “Whose love am I grateful for?” One of my favorite tricks is to treat myself to a couple extra minutes in bed, thinking of at least 3 things I'm grateful for. This morning, flannel sheets was one of them!
3. Be alert to the goodness all around you. It's hard to have a positive attitude if you focus on only the negative things happening around you. Make a point to consciously seek the good in everything, especially in small, simple things such as a child's innocent laughter or the beauty found in nature.
4. Perform random acts of kindness. You can increase your own gratitude by being someone else's reason for thankfulness. Practice random acts of kindness by unexpectedly helping others.
What may seem like a small act to you can be a very large act of generosity to someone who is in need. Look for opportunities each day to help someone else. The other person will be thankful for your generosity and you’ll be grateful for the boost in your self-esteem and mood.
5. A picture is worth a thousand words. Why not document the things that you’re grateful for by recording them with a photo? You can even spread the good thoughts around by sharing your gratitude pictures on your social media accounts. #hashtagblassed
Check out 365 Grateful for more ideas and inspiration!
6. Save notes of gratitude, instead of loose change, in a jar. Too busy to make gratitude lists or keep a gratitude journal? Try writing short notes about gratitude to yourself and keeping them in a jar!
Whenever you need an encouraging word, remove one of the notes and read it to instantly perk up your mood!
As the end of the year draws to a close, look back over your gratitude notes to be reminded of all of the good things that happened to you throughout the year.
There are difficult times in everyone's life, but practicing gratitude on a regular basis gives you the power and inspiration to remain positive as you overcome challenges.