Some definitions of gratitude are "a feeling of appreciation or thanks" or "the quality of being thankful." Human beings were originally created to survive, with a built-in fight or flight response, therefore we aren't hard-wired to be grateful. Studies show that practicing gratitude can have a very positive effect on our health, happiness and social lives. Here are seven simple ways to cultivate gratitude in your life today:
Take notice. Get aware of your negativity, complaining or gossiping. Pay attention to how you are seeing the world. If there is traffic, are you angry and blaming the driver in front of you? Are you allowing your circumstances to dictate your mood or are you able to breathe and get into a state of calmness and gratitude. Think, "I am so grateful that I have this car and it will get me where I need to go despite this traffic." Be mindful of how you are thinking and feeling when a situation arises.
Keep a gratitude journal. Spend a few minutes each day writing down or noting what you are grateful for. This will help you remember that, even if you are having a hard time, there are still many things in life for which you can give thanks. Feeling gratitude in any given moment can shift your physiology and focus.
Switch your point of view. After you have begun noticing and writing, start switching your point of view from negative to positive, upset to grateful. This takes time and practice. You are responsible for your own thinking, and you can create an air of gratitude simply by saying that you feel this way!
Be humble. Humility is the "act of being modest or respectful." Think about what you take for granted and if you can shift your attitude and position. Humility helps us be open to new ways of thinking and experiencing the world.
Share your appreciation. Give a compliment or praise. Let other people know that you appreciate them. Practice random acts of kindness and expect nothing in return. Put out positive vibes and energy just because you can.
See the silver lining in every situation. Make lemonade out of lemons. Ask yourself, "what can I learn from this?" "How can I prevent this negative event from happening again or how can I have a different reaction next time?" In every situation, there is opportunity.
Donate. Be giving of your time, energy and financial resources. Join a cause that speaks to you because you are grateful for what you have been given or able to earn. Donating helps us live in gratitude because we are helping worthwhile causes and people who are less fortunate.
Know in your heart that the Universe is good and that even though life can be hard sometimes, our attitudes can play a big role in how we experience it. Be grateful. Start right now!