Gratitude is a choice, says wellbeing expert Liggy Webb, and one that is well worth making. Research shows that cultivating gratitude has long lasting, positive effects. She gives her top tips to help you perfect a grateful mindset.
It will probably come as no surprise that appreciating life increases happiness. But did you know that according to research by Robert Emmons, consciously cultivating gratitude can have health benefits such as better quality sleep?
Grateful people are also found to be more empathetic and less materialistic and report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality and optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. Even a few hours spent writing a gratitude journal over a three-week period has been shown to have a positive effect that lasts for six months, if not more. So counting your blessings really will help you to be happier, healthier and more positive!
A grateful mindset is a choice and if consciously practised enough, will become a habit. So here are 9 useful tips to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
1. Decide to be grateful
It is entirely your choice whether you want to become a grateful person. If you decide to be a grateful person, then be it. No matter what happens to you, it is still up to you to decide how you want to respond. So make the decision now to be a grateful person.
2. Seek out the good things in life
Sometimes if we are not careful we see only the bad things that happen in our life and overlook the good things. Open your eyes and be observant of those good things. Dedicate time each day to simply focusing on positive things and seek out something that will make you smile.
3. Wake up with an attitude of gratitude
You can train your mind to focus on anything you like. When you wake up, you immediately begin to consciously programme your subconscious mind on how your day will be. If you tell yourself that you are going to have a bad/stressful day, then you will, because your subconscious mind will believe anything your conscious mind tells it. Turn any negative thought around and discipline yourself to start every day with a positive and appreciative thought.
4. Keep a gratitude journal
Write the good things that happen in your life in a journal, especially those which impress you. When life looks dark and it’s difficult for you to be grateful, open and read your journal. Dwelling on the happy positive stuff will help you to realise how wonderful life can be and will be again. This is great to do before you go to bed at night.
5. See problems as ‘probortunities’
Out of every problematic situation there is an opportunity. You can choose to focus on the problem or the solution. This might be difficult for some people – however, I firmly recommend it. At the very least, bad things give you valuable lessons you can be grateful for. When you have this mindset, it’s easier to see the good things you can get out of something difficult and challenging. This way you will always have reasons to be grateful.
6. Focus on giving
You will be grateful if your mind focuses on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. By giving, your mind will focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have (you can’t give something you don’t have, can you?). Most people focus on receiving, which makes their mind focus on what they don’t have. This is why it’s difficult for them to be appreciative.
7. Get into the habit of saying thank you
Do you always remember to say thank you? Are there times you forget because you are too busy? Perhaps when someone has sent you a gift you haven’t let them know how much you appreciated it. Perhaps, when you have been to dinner at someone’s house, the next day you forget to let them know how much you enjoyed it. No one likes being taking for granted, so make sure that saying thank you is part of the daily fabric of your life.
8. Say thank you and mean it
Also make sure that saying thank you isn’t a chore in your mind. Heartfelt sincere thanks are tangible and not an obligation. When you say thank you to someone, look them in the eyes and mean it. A small gesture like that could make all the difference to someone whose day will glow a little brighter for being acknowledged and appreciated.
9. Identify highlights
Getting into the habit of focusing on the best bits and highlighting three things that made you appreciative and happy is a wonderful way to summarise your day.
Liggy Webb is a best selling author and international consultant specialising in behavioural skills. Some of the organisations she works with include the United Nations, NHS, World Trade Organization, BBC, Ralph Lauren, Sainsburys, Zurich and Macmillan. Liggy is also the founding director of The Learning Architect, an international consortium of behavioural skills specialists. She is recognised as a thought leader on resilience and is regularly asked to be a keynote speaker across private and public sectors. Find out more at www.liggywebb.com or follow her on Twitter @liggw