Gratitude is a positive personality trait that some people have naturally. It has been shown to be one of the personality traits the people that are the most content with their lives have. The good news for those people that do not have it naturally is that it can be learned. Listed below are some helpful and effective ways to become more grateful.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
Increasing our propensity for gratitude is one of the easiest things to do to change our level of happiness. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal consists of writing down nightly the three to five things that you were grateful for that day. It is best if the things are unique to that day and were unexpected. There are several reasons that this is helpful. Knowing that you are going to have to write down positive things that happened to you helps you to focus on the positive. It will help you enjoy small things that happen in your day that make you smile because you will try to keep it in your memory to write it down later. Then at the end of the day when you remember it later you will enjoy those same good feelings. If you hear your favorite song on the radio or run into an old friend, that memory will cause the chemicals in your brain to change and creates a positive mood.
Do Not Define A “Bad Day” By One Negative Experience
Often people who are unhappy see their day as being all bad or all good. This is called Black and White Thinking. So if one bad thing happens in the day, the day is bad. Since most days are mixed with good and bad, for these people most of their days appear to be bad. A change in perspective by noticing and acknowledging the good things that happen during the day help these people see that good things are happening too. The change in focus leads to a change in perception.
Acknowledge The Positive Amidst The Negative
What if there are some difficult things that are happening in your life, like a job loss or a cancer diagnosis? How do you focus on the positive things that are going on and can they help you?
Recognizing the positive things can definitely help you. We often move, learn, and grow in times of difficulty. A job loss leads to a new job or career opportunity that you wouldn’t have had if you weren’t unemployed. A cancer diagnosis taught you to have a better balance in your life, make time for the important things, not to sweat the small stuff, increased your faith, helped you to understand how many friends you had and how much you are loved. In difficult times there are things to be thankful for and acknowledging those things will help you get through the hard times. Acknowledging the opportunity to grow and learn can also help you get through those times of difficulty.
Practicing gratitude is a good time that helps you to continue to be grateful during difficult times. The ritual of doing a gratitude journal every day no matter how the day has turned out helps you stay focused on the positive.