Gratitude is the shortest path to happiness. But being grateful for the same old things every day can get tiresome and start to feel very repetitive. How many times, really, can you say you are grateful for your family and friends before it starts to feel a little forced?
Research has shown that you can take your gratitude up a notch by finding new things for which to be grateful.
I got a note from The Five Minute Journal folks that have some pointers to help freshen up your gratitude habit. Let’s explore them.
The more detailed you get with gratitude, the more impactful it will be. Saying “I am grateful for Mom” is nice IF you connect with the feeling behind it. But it can quickly feel repetitive saying this for several weeks in a row. Sorry Mom. To remedy this, pick something specific like “I am grateful for Mom’s laugh” or “I am grateful for Mom not telling me to clean my room as an adult.” You want enough detail so you can VISUALIZE the gratitude and FEEL it. This is key.
Odds are you have (or are considering) a gratitude practice in the first place is because you find it easy to be a critic rather than a celebrator. Most people do. In psychology, they call this the negativity bias. Now is the time to use this to your advantage. Instead of visualizing all the good in your life, imagine it was all taken away. Goodbye puppy. Goodbye good health. Goodbye dream job. Kind of jarring isn’t it and perhaps a bit morbid? Well, this used to be an old Stoic exercise that put the things you value into perspective real quick. The Stoics would even take it as far to dress in their worst clothes or go without food for a day to take it further. For our purposes, we’ll keep it strictly to gratitude journaling. Imagine you did not have your foot. Imagine you were a slave. Imagine you lost your best friend. Doing this exercise is often one of the most powerful.
For all you planners out there, you’ll love this one. Instead of trying to randomly think of gratitudes each day, we’ll add a bit of structure to gratitude. It’s simple. Pick a gratitude category for each day of the week.
Although on the surface this seems simple, telling others how awesome they are can still feel weird. Will they think I have an agenda? Will they think I’m weird? They probably already know how I feel about them? Gratitude is all about the emotion. If you just intellectually THINK about gratitude without feeling, you are receiving little psychological boost. Sharing your gratitudes with others can take the emotion to the next level.
So, give this a try as you perform your morning gratitude ritual.