A negative attitude is bad for you.
Well if you invest in a way of seeing the world that is negative and spiteful, you're going to get a world that is, well, more negative and spiteful.
But if you can find an authentic reason to be thankful for anything that's going right in your life, and focus your attention there, it turns out that you become happier and healthier, and there’s research and stats to say you're going to be better off.
So what is gratitude and how do we incorporate it in our lives?
It is the practice of expressing thanks for all the things, moments, experiences, relationships, people and possessions we already have in our lives. And it’s a shift of focus from what we want to what we already have.
What I’ve come to realise is that happiness is much more about expectations and desires than it is about anything else. By practicing gratitude for what we already have, as opposed to always wanting more, we start to cultivate feelings of already “having” and “being” enough.
Studies have also shown that practicing gratitude can help to reduce social comparisons and the desire to “keep up with the joneses”.
For many people, self-esteem is tied up with an illusion of self-worth measured by our bank balance, social status, career, address, or other material possessions. Measuring self-esteem in this way can lead to resentment towards people who have more money, more possessions or better jobs. But by being grateful for what we have and achieve, we are more likely to appreciate other people’s accomplishments as well as our own.
To practice gratitude doesn't mean that you won't have bad days or negative thoughts. We all encouter bad situations, and bad luck but it’s our ability, even in these tough times, to recognise and be thankful for all that we do have that helps to foster resilience.
There is no one way to practice gratitude, in fact, you can express gratitude for the simple things our lives in so many different ways.
Here are some simple ways you could introduce an “attitude of gratitude” into your life:
- Make an effort to tell your spouse, partner, children or friends something you appreciate about them every day.
- Send thank you notes to people who deserve a little recognition or thanks for their efforts.
- Take the time to call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Appreciate their friendship.
- Notice the little things - the weather, a nice sunset, your morning coffee, some time out. Often it is these little things that we take for granted but which bring us so much joy.
- Celebrate your own achievements and the achievements of others.
- Take the time out to reflect each day about something you like about yourself.
- Keep a list or journal of the things you are thankful for each day. This works well first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed.
- Sign up for a gratitude challenge online or via social media.
- Be intentionally nice. Go out of your way to actively acknowledge someone, say hello, help them or compliment them in an honest and authentic way.
- Smile more.
So I challenge you to take a moment and consider what are you actually grateful for?
It's a question that has the potential to change your life...