Are you ready to be happier? Try these 6 tips to create more gratitude and joy in your life. We’re constantly bombarded with messages telling us that there's something else that's wanting newer, bigger, or better that we should want. Gratitude is about focusing on what you already have right now.
You miss out on joy when happiness conditional on something that you don't yet have. Does your happiness meter sound something like this: I’ll be happy when I lose 20 pounds, when I buy a bigger house, when I find the right partner, when I have a new job? Hop off the hamster wheel, and focus on creating gratitude for what you have right now.
What if I shared with you that you've already got what it takes for you to be happy with your life, right now?
Enjoy what you already have. Celebrate your accomplishments. Recognize how far you've already come. When you do this, you'll find more fulfillment as you grow.
When happiness is conditional on achieving a goal or dream that you haven’t yet achieved, it blocks you from having gratitude for what you already have. It’s perfectly fine to want to grow. To find happiness, however, it’s important to appreciate what you already have.
People who practice gratitude on a regular basis are happier.
Last year, I changed up my gratitude practice. Since then, I am attracting more of what I want in my life with ease. I’m sharing the 6 simple steps to creating a powerful gratitude lifestyle.
While I've been practicing gratitude for years, I wasn't necessarily giving it the time and attention it deserves. When I got busy, I found myself running through gratitudes in my head at bedtime, rather than taking time to journal. Sort of like “quick, quick, name 3 gratitudes before I fall asleep!”
But now...I do it differently. With much more intention. I can honestly say that having a regular gratitude practice makes a huge difference in my life.
In the past, I used to write simple gratitudes more like this:
I’m grateful that my kids helped their grandparents when they weren’t feeling well.
Now I write more deeply, using specific examples and identifying my feelings:
I’m grateful that my kids grew up to become loving and responsible young adults. I love that they each took it upon themselves to be there for their grandfather as he faces some big health challenges.
I'm amazed by their loving spirit, compassion and generosity. Flying across the country to visit, bringing cheer, hope and humor. Going to doctor appointments to support their grandparents and meet with doctors. From taking care of the car to cooking healthy food, laughing and sharing stories, grocery shopping, decoding food labels to make it easier for their grandparents, they were there.
My kids understand the meaning of love and family. I love the way that their different traits each show up to express their love. I couldn’t be prouder of seeing how these two kids have grown up into amazing young adults.
I’m grateful that my children are responsible young adults and understand the meaning of love and family. Somehow, we got this parenting thing right!
Notice how the second gratitude is more powerful:
I tapped into my feelings of appreciation. Specific examples make it more memorable. When I go back and read this, I’m whisked back into the feelings of gratitude that I had and can feel them over and over again.
Developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to create more satisfaction with your life. It’s based on the science of positive psychology. Studies show that practicing active gratitude
Increases resilience so you bounce back from stress and difficult times
Creates awareness and attracts more of what you want into your life
Improves psychological and physical health
Increases self esteem
Improves personal and professional relationships
You can tap into all of these benefits - for free! - by creating a gratitude habit with these 6 simple steps.
1. Begin keeping a gratitude journal to explore and appreciate the goodness in your life.
Write it down. Bring it alive, and feel it with as many of your senses as you can. Use a journal or online, whatever feels right to you. Do this for 30 days. Make it a fun and daily habit.
Get as creative as you want! Use colored pens, sketches and doodle. Maybe you want to include photos, ticket stubs and invitations. Whatever feels good. It’s your choice! Also consider signing up for my 7 Day Happiness Experience, and I'll send you an email a day for 7 days to get your gratitude journal started!
2. Feel your gratitude and positive feelings.
Notice the joy and appreciation for little things. Smile at people, say thank you, hold a door open for the person behind you. Feel the mutual appreciation.
3. Thank people.
When it’s not expected. Send a text. Make a call. Write a recommendation. Put a stamp on an old-fashioned card or letter and put it in the mailbox. Make someone’s day!
4. Look back on your gratitude journal.
Read your previous journal entries over again. Relive experiences on good days or challenging ones, and feel the positive vibes. Including specific thoughts. Your words will always be there to lift your spirits and reconnect you to your joy.
5. No strings attached!
Random acts of kindness for the heck of it are tremendously fun. Learn to accept the thank you with grace and ease.
Being able to accept kindnesses from other people is an important part of gratitude. And it's not always easier for people who are givers to be on the receiving end, as I recently learned.
Sharing a sweet experience. I told my barre instructor that I loved the color of the shirt she just put on, and how it was the exact color of the dress I hoped to find for my daughter's wedding. The next thing I knew, she handed it to me. I thought she was joking, but she shut the door and wouldn't take it back. It felt awkward for me to be on the receiving end. I literally took the shirt off of someone’s back!
It was lovely. I realized that she really did want me to have this unexpected gift. I love giving, but am not as comfortable receiving. I learned that by allowing her to share in such a heartfelt way, she had the pleasure that comes from the joy of giving. It can be uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of a random act of kindness when you're usually the one giving. Accepting, as well as giving, with gratitude is a skill to develop. It was important to respect about how happy she was to share a random act of kindness.
6. Make gratitude part of your daily routine.
When is the best time to regularly commit to journaling? You might choose to reflect over a cup of coffee in the morning to start your day with a positive vibe. Maybe journaling every night at bedtime works better with your schedule. Whatever works for you, stick with it.
I used to plan to journal at night. But then life happened...and I’d end up in bed jotting down speed-gratitudes before going to sleep. Morning is definitely a better time for me to do this regularly.
Here’s a trick: go deeper! You don’t have to write a whole chapter (you sure can if you’re inspired). Take time to come up with more than a quick laundry list. Really experience the power feelings of what you are grateful for.
A lifestyle that celebrates gratitude brings happiness. More happiness brings more gratitude. Which brings more happiness... It’s a pretty nice cycle! All of these benefits are will help you to become happier, healthier, engaged, inspired and more connected. Bonus: you can tap into all of these benefits for free. What's not to love! I'm here to help you use these 6 simple steps to creating more gratitude in your life bring you more joy for the little and big things in your life if you'd like more support. Here's to your happiness!
Denise Fountain is a Life Transitions Specialist and Certified Professional Coach. She works with women going through transitions to rediscover themselves and create lives that are happy, healthy and whole again. Together with her clients, she explores the connection between stress, health and happiness, and guides her clients to move forward to make lasting and sustainable changes.
Denise is passionate about helping women live their best lives. Denise provides coaching for clients living anywhere by phone or Skype, and is available for speaking engagements and workshops. Sign up for updates. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how Denise can partner with you to create the life you dream of.