5 Ways to Increase Happiness by Practicing Gratitude
Contentment comes from an attitude of gratitude in your daily life.
Expressing sincere gratitude for everything you have in your life makes you feel happier. However, gratitude needs to be practiced regularly if you are to increase your level of happiness over the longer term. Here are five ways to develop an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis.
Write Down 100 Things You’re Grateful For
Start practicing gratitude by writing down 100 things you’re grateful for in your life as it is today. These could be big things, small things, or something in between. Examples include:
· a home
· a job
· a warming cup of coffee
· enough food to eat
· family and friends (name each person individually)
· a beautiful sunset
· twinkling stars in the night sky.
Try to write the list as quickly as possible without pausing too much. Don’t worry if your list contains many small things. Minor events and experiences in life can be more instrumental in making you happy than more significant ones.
Look for Things to Appreciate and Be Grateful For During the Day
Start each day by writing a list of at least 5 aspects of your life you’re thankful for soon after you get up — either while drinking your first cup of coffee or while traveling to work.
Then, throughout the day, look for things to appreciate and be thankful for. These could be:
· good things that happened
· things you appreciated seeing or doing
· time you enjoyed spending with other people
· anything else that comes to mind.
You’re essentially looking for as many aspects of your life as possible to put on your gratitude list. If you have time, you could note down the things you appreciate as you notice them.
In the evening, write a list of all the positive things you experienced during the day. Aim for a minimum of 10 positive aspects of your day and be as specific as possible. For example, instead of saying you are thankful for a certain person being in your life, write down something that the person did or said that makes you grateful you know them.
Slow Down and Savor an Everyday Experience
Choose one everyday experience and savor it as much as possible. Slow down and take time to enjoy every aspect of it.
If, for example, you visit a coffee shop, order a drink in a ceramic cup, sit down in a comfortable chair, and enjoy every sip of your drink.
Engage all your senses. Look at how attractive the barista has made your drink appear. Smell the aroma of your drink. Anticipate the first sip before you take it — what do you think it’ll taste like?
When you take the first sip, let your taste buds tell you what flavors you’re experiencing. Feel the warmth of the drink as it moves down your throat into your stomach.
Resist the urge to check your phone and just sit quietly and feel your body being supported by the chair. Imagine roots growing down from your feet, planting you firmly in the ground and in the present moment.
Observe your surroundings in the coffee shop. What do you notice about the décor, the chairs and tables, the staff, the other customers and the overall ambiance?
Savoring an everyday experience helps you to be grateful just for being alive and for the opportunity to enjoy everything life has to offer.
Show Other People You Appreciate Them
Another way of showing gratitude is to tell or show other people you appreciate them. This not only makes you feel happy but also makes the other person happy, too, thus strengthening relationships.
Today, show as many people as possible that you appreciate them in as many different ways as possible, such as:
· Saying “thank you” even for small things, such as fixing your lunch or helping you with a chore.
· Saying “thank you” to the barista, shop assistant, bank teller, and any other person you come into contact with.
· Writing and sending a thank you note or card.
· Praising someone for how they did something. For example, you could tell them you really appreciated the effort they made.
· Complimenting someone on their appearance, attitude or other aspect of their personality.
Be Grateful When Doing Something Mundane
Choose something that you do every day and often find boring. While you’re doing the activity, be grateful for every aspect of it that you can think of.
For example, if you decide to be grateful while you’re preparing a bowl of cereal for breakfast, start by being grateful that you can walk as you walk towards the cupboard to take out the box of cereal.
Pause and take a moment to look in your cupboard and be thankful for the abundance of food you have. As you take your bowl out of the cupboard, be grateful for the efforts made by the people who worked in the factory where the bowl was made.
As you pour your cereal and milk into your bowl, think of the farmers who produced the grains and milk, the factory workers who helped make and package the products, the drivers who transported them to a store near you, and the staff who work in the store. All these people helped make it possible for you to have the convenience of buying the food you need in your neighborhood so that you can enjoy your breakfast today.
If you begin to think like this in more and more situations, you’ll find that your mind is wandering less and your focus is fixed more firmly in the present moment. You’ll feel happier and lighter.
Incorporate at least one or two of these ways of expressing gratitude into your daily life. If you assume an attitude of gratitude consistently, your level of satisfaction with your life will increase over time, making you feel happier and more content.