“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” Frederick Keonig
Those of us with busy lives filled with work, family, and responsibility often find ourselves worn down by the hustle and bustle of it all. It’s easy to lose sight of our blessings when we’re always on the go, working hard, and pursuing our dreams.
In fact, the pursuit of our ambitions, while admirable, can sometimes have the unintended effect of causing us to forget how lucky we have it. When we’re so focused on the next big thing, we run the risk of living for the future, not enjoying our present.
The key to breaking the cycle of always wanting bigger and better lies in cultivating gratitude. Rather than dwelling on the negative, incorporating habits of gratitude into our lives can make us more content and ultimately, refresh us enough to continue on.
The benefits of gratitude
Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean that you have to go through life wearing rose-colored lenses, or plaster insincere optimism over your true feelings. What it does mean, is that even amid work and life, you take time to slow down and ponder the things that are truly important to you – things like family, relationships, and blessings small and large.
And, it’s not just a platitude. Studies show that there are some pretty significant health benefits to gratitude. One study of patients with heart damage found that those with high gratitude levels also had better moods, sleep, and less inflammation in their bodies – all things that can contribute to heart health.
There is also research that shows that expressing gratitude increases social relationships and helps us make new friends.
Another study revealed that gratitude leads to overall better emotional and physical well-being, saying that, “The ability to notice, appreciate, and savor the elements of one’s life has been viewed as a crucial determinant of well-being.”
These studies show us that counting our blessings isn’t just a way to keep grounded – we can actually increase our overall health and well-being by making gratitude a priority.
How to cultivate gratitude
Of course, this then begs the question – how do we begin cultivating gratitude in our lives? After all, hardly any of us would say that we aren’t grateful for the things we care about. We all love our families and appreciate the good things in life, but it’s not always easy to remember these blessings when we’re rushing to work in the morning or changing that hundredth diaper.
It’s easy to let gratitude slip us by if we aren’t willing to pay attention, which is why it’s so important to begin the process of slowing down and taking the time to embrace gratitude fully. Here’s how.
Keep a journal
Start by keeping a gratitude journal. Now, many of us don’t have the time or desire to chronicle long diaries about our lives, but a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be that in-depth (unless you want it to be.)
It can be as simple as jotting down three things at the end of the day that you’re thankful for, just three short sentences or bullets. Take some time in the evening, before your head hits the pillow, to reflect on your life, your day, and identify three things that make you glad.
This is a great first step in your gratitude journey because it trains your mind to find the positives. On some days, it will be a breeze. On others, you may have to work a little harder to find something – those bad days can be a little challenging. Training your brain to see the silver lining (on good days and bad) helps you see the positive in every situation.
Slow down, and work on your attitude
In addition to a gratitude journal, try to take some time during the day for short pauses where you reflect on your attitude and emotions. This takes some persistence, but if you’re willing to slow down and check in with yourself throughout the day, these moments of reflection can bring a lot of inner peace.
It’s not always practical to take a long break in the middle of a busy day. If you own a business or are a full-time parent, you’re lucky to get even a few moments to yourself every day. Luckily, these moments of quiet reflection don’t have to be long – just 1-3 minutes is all it takes.
It can take the form of meditation, a prayer, or even just a quiet moment of mindfulness. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing this small step can feel. Give it a try!
Embrace gratitude in your daily life
Use these practical tips to stay present and focused on the things that matter. Cultivate gratitude in your life with journaling and mindful moments, and watch how quickly your mindset shifts to the positive.
Gigi is an expert at assessing situations and working with her clients to help them cut through the obstacles in their way to find success. If you would like to learn how to become unstoppable like Gigi and find out how to get beyond your limits and fears to really start living with fulfillment, contact her today!