Cultivating Gratitude

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In this third in a series of four articles, let’s talk about how you can cultivate more gratitude in your life.

If you’ve been following along, you now know the power of gratitude. It’s one thing to talk about it, however, and something else entirely to begin to practice it. With this article, you’ll learn a number of specific proven practices that lead directly to more gratitude in your life. So, here we go:

Keep a Gratitude Journal
I’ve talked about the power of journaling in the past in the article “When DID I Get Chased by Wild Turkeys.” Gratitude Journaling is all about the simple practice of regularly writing down things that you are grateful for.

For this practice, I suggest you put aside time each day, just 10 minutes or so, to write down at least three things you’re grateful for each day. For me, that time is at the end of the day, and I use it as my evening meditation. This puts me in the habit of noticing the little things that I’m grateful for throughout my day – an amazing sunset, something funny the cats did, seeing a friend I haven’t seen for a while, the sun shining on grasses a certain way, a tarantula crossing my path.

If once a day is too much, make it once a week. Just be sure to mindfully put that time aside or you may forget.

Say thank you often
Every time you’re grateful for something, and that list will begin to grown, give a moment to say “thank you.” That may be to the waiter refilling your drink, or when someone opens the door for you, or even when you find a quarter. Just verbally say thank you, even if it isn’t directed to any one in particular. You’re putting it out there, and it will help you to become even more grateful.

Always find reasons to be grateful
Even in the most challenging situations, you can almost always find something to be grateful for. That is not to say that you have to pretend it isn’t hard. It simply means that you look for the good, even if it’s just a glimmer, in every situation.

This can be very difficult in some situations, and that’s okay. Be kind to yourself if you can’t seem to find anything, and don’t judge yourself by that. Sometimes the gratitude is that the situation has made you better, stronger, more compassionate, more thoughtful or more resilient. Just keep practicing, even if you don’t think it’s working. Soon you will find more reasons to have gratitude.

Develop an abundance mindset
An abundance mindset believes that we live in abundant universe and that there is more than enough for everyone. On the flipside, a scarcity mindset believes that there is not enough to go around.

An abundance mindset gratefully gives and receives, knowing there’s enough to go around. With an abundant mindset, your more able to cultivate gratitude because you don’t have to worry about having enough, or fear running out.

Live in the present moment
This is what mindfulness is all about. So, when you’re sitting in traffic, have gratitude that you have time to sit and think. When you eat dinner, have gratitude for each bite you take. When you go to bed, have gratitude for the comfort of a roof over your head. Don’t think about what you would rather be doing or where you’d rather be. Rather fill each moment with gratitude.

Regularly write thank you notes
Get in the habit of expressing your gratitude for all that your receive. Doing so gives you time and space to think about why you are grateful. A simple, hand written card to someone who has inspired you, or taught you something, or helped in through a tough time, reminds them of how special they are to you. And it reminds you as well.

Next week we’ll wrap up this series on gratitude with some final thoughts. In the meantime, I’m grateful to you for following along.

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