INSIDE: We all go through times when we find ourselves complaining and focusing on all the wrong things. This article will provide you with ten powerful ways to be grateful and happy now.
When am I least happy?
When I am focusing on everything that is “wrong” with my life.
I’m sure we all get caught in negative mind chatter like that — when it seems like there is so much to complain about in our lives.
But which came first? The chicken or the egg?
In other words, are we complaining because life sucks, or does life suck because we won’t stop complaining?
Life certainly sucks more for me when I am focusing on the things I’m not happy about, whereas when I focus on what is good (even if the good is harder to find), I feel happier.
There will always be things to complain about, but when we do so, we are focusing only on the problems, and from that place, it’s hard to see the solutions.
And when we don’t feel like we can solve our problems, life feels pretty icky.
That’s why I am writing this article about gratitude.
By practicing gratitude, we engage in a more positive energy, and we feel happier as a result. We find more to be thankful for and less to complain about even though nothing else in our lives has changed.
Why Be Grateful On A Regular Basis
There are several reasons why learning how to be grateful on a regular basis is good for us…
It’s Good For Our Health – As demonstrated by numerous studies, people who express gratitude on a regular basis exercise more and have fewer aches and pains. Other studies show that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.
It Makes Us More Empathetic – According to a 2012 study, the practice of gratitude makes people more empathetic and sensitive to others. They behave in a kinder way to others and have less desire for revenge.
We Attract Better Things – We tend to attract things, people, and circumstances based on what we are putting out. If we are constantly complaining and feeling like everything sucks, we end up bringing more of all the stuff that sucks to us. When we learn to be grateful for the blessings in our lives, however, even in the midst of all the not-so-great stuff, we open the door for more of the good to come into our lives.
We Feel Happier – When we practice gratitude on a regular basis, we feel more positive, which makes us feel happier. It’s a natural progression that will take over as we start to train our brain to look for the good in our lives.
Gratitude Makes Us More Emotionally Balanced – When we learn to be grateful as a knee-jerk reaction, we come from a place of maturity and strength that helps us feel more emotionally in control and resilient.
Gratitude Empowers Us – When we are constantly complaining about our lives, we are feeling stuck and unable to change what we don’t like, and we feel horrible as a result. But, when we can see the silver lining in any situation, we feel empowered and optimistic.
How to Start To Be Grateful
We don’t tend to notice the amazingness of the world unless we learn to focus on everything that makes it that way. When we practice awareness by focusing on all the blessings in our lives, we notice those things more, we find that we have less to complain about, and then we naturally start noticing our blessings more and more. It takes practice at first, but then it becomes second nature.
We are all at different levels when it comes to noticing and appreciating the blessings in our lives. If complaining has become second nature to you, then developing an attitude of gratitude will take a little more practice. Just stick with it and let yourself ease into it.
Keep a gratitude journal and start by just writing down one thing that you are grateful for at the beginning or end of the day. Then, you could start to write down five things. Then ten. Then, start noticing things you can be grateful for throughout the day, and then practice seeing the hidden good in the bad. Play, have fun and let your gratitude journal be a source of wonder and self-discovery.
Here are ten powerful ways you can start to be grateful and happy now…
Learn to Look For the Hidden Blessings
At first, you might be grateful for easy things like:
- Beautiful weather
- A bonus at work
- A good parking spot
- Unexpected money
As you start flexing your “gratitude muscle,” however, you will probably begin finding blessings in places you would never have thought before. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- You have been putting more on your credit card lately than you’d like to —> You might feel grateful that you have a credit card to get you by in times like these.
- You run into the store before a doctor’s appointment to grab a few things you need, but the checkout line is taking forever —> You could learn to feel grateful that you still made it to your appointment on time (or if you were late, you might feel grateful that the doctor’s office was very understanding).
- Your child got into trouble at school and got suspended —> You could look at this as fortunate that your child learned his or her lesson before anything worse happened.
- Your family dog, who’s been with the family for many years, passes away —> You recognize that your dog’s quality of life was not there anymore and that now he is in a better place. You choose to focus on all the good memories you get to cherish.
- You get a flat tire on the way to work —> You choose to focus on the fact that a nice person stopped to help you and that you didn’t get into an accident. Plus, you needed new tires anyway, and now you can check that task off your list.
- You gained five pounds —> You know it happened because of all the family gatherings you’ve been attending, and you choose to be happy about all the wonderful moments that were shared and the delicious food you got to eat. Now, you can get back on track with your diet.
We are pretty accustomed to complaining here in America. Minor annoyances often turn into giant gripe sessions, but by learning to find the positive in negative experiences, we can stop waiting to be happy and start being happy now.
There will always be things to complain about and people that will frustrate us, but we can rise above it by having an attitude of gratitude.
Practice Purposeful Living
Stress is pretty much an epidemic at this point. Here are some recent statistics about stress from Statistic Brain:
- 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress
- 73% of people regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress
- 33% of people feel they are living with extreme stress
- 48% of people feel their stress has increased over the past five years
It’s more important than ever to slow down and take the time to appreciate your life instead of just being stressed all the time. Learning to live in the moment is one of the keys to having an attitude of gratitude. It’s important to find ways to stop rushing, to breathe deeply, and to open your mind to the wondrous sensations of a single experience.
The key to slowing down is by committing to the following:
- Stop Allowing Technology to Rule Your Life – We are consumed with checking email and social media, and we are completely attached to our phones. It’s important to take a step back and focus on the real aspects of life – our loved ones and creating memorable experiences. Try these 53 Simple Pleasures for Lasting Happiness.
- Learn to Say No – By trying to please everybody, we end up spreading ourselves too thin and pleasing no one, least of all ourselves. If your commitments don’t feel good or rewarding, then you’ve probably overbooked yourself. You’ll find more joy in your life when you take the time to do things right and say no to all the rest.
- Give Your Attention to Your Family & Friends – In this hurried world we live in, we tend to cut people short, which affects our relationships and our happiness. It’s important to look people in the eyes during conversations, listen fully to them without interrupting, and put down your phone so you can give people your undivided attention.
- Spend More Time in Nature – Nature is one of the most “in your face” examples of what to be grateful for in life because it is comprised of so many beautiful, magnificent wonders. Try to take a daily walk outside or at least go outside during a work break to get some fresh air. When you have a few hours of free time, head to the park or take a hike down a sunlit path through the woods. Even if the weather isn’t great, a little rain, cold, and snow is actually good for the body, mind, and spirit.
- Engage in a Head-Clearing Ritual – If you find it difficult to slow down, you may find that engaging in a head-clearing ritual will release your emotions and mental chatter, allowing you to focus. Try some light stretching, yoga, or a short jog to clear your head and help relieve stress.
- Take a Leisurely Journey of the Senses – By focusing on our five senses in detail, we learn to tune into the present moment in a new and refreshing way. To do this, pick a single experience, such as playing ball with your dog or sitting by a quiet stream, and take time to notice everything. Open your eyes and ears, and even notice the smells, tastes, and feelings of the experience. Consider journaling about your what you discover afterward.
- Engage in Anti-Stress Practices – If we don’t manage our stress and take time for self-care, our mental and physical health will take a toll. It’ll start out slowly, and then all of a sudden, we will notice an avalanche of health issues. To stay on top of it before it gets to that point, try these practical tips for less stress, and make sure you are engaging in anti-stress practices on a regular basis.
View Hardships As Your Strength-Building Platform
When we face difficult experiences, we develop survival skills, and we grow emotionally. Whatever has happened in your life thus far, know that you are stronger as a result.
One way to develop an attitude of gratitude is to take some time to reflect on what you’ve been through and how you’ve come out of it a better or stronger person. Notice if you have learned to handle certain situations or people in better ways.
- How have you handled certain problems with grace?
- Even if you struggled your way through certain experiences without grace, what good came out of it in the end?
- How are you a different person now?
- How has your life taken a different course due to the hardships you’ve had?
Make Time For Self-Reflection
What is it about a hot mug of tea or coffee that lends itself to self-reflection and self-realization?
Gratitude comes from taking the time to notice and reflect. You can ignite your attitude of gratitude through self-reflection by simply wrapping your hands around the hot beverage of your choice and sipping it slowly from a rocker on your front porch as you let yourself reflect on your best qualities.
You might consider asking yourself some of the following questions:
- What makes you, you? Why are you unique?
- What are your most redeeming qualities?
- What strengths and characteristics are you likely to be remembered for at the end of your life?
- What brings you joy?
- What were your best qualities as a child or teen? How have you changed as an adult?
- How can you celebrate the wiser and more mature future version of you?
- What changes would you like to make in your life?
Ready to take self-reflection to a new level?
If you feel a yearning in your soul to get away and take some time to just be with yourself for self-reflection and self-renewal, a self-reflecting vacation, otherwise known as a personal retreat, is just the thing! It’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself (and everyone around you since it will change you for the better). Learn how to plan a personal retreat to recharge your mind, body, and spirit here.
Be Thankful for Life’s Simple Pleasures
We’ve made our lives so complicated as of late, which makes it that much more important to indulge in simple pleasures. Doing so can help you appreciate the little things in life.
Make time to get back to basic pastimes like cooking, crafting, and engaging in self-care practices. Be grateful for all the simple things that bring you enjoyment, such as bubble baths, reading a good book, making snow angels, hot apple cider, and having a good laugh. Here are 53 Simple Pleasures that are sure to inspire lasting happiness in your life.
Work on Your Mindset
It’s easier to recognize the many blessings in your life when you are exhibiting a positive mindset. For me, mindset is where it’s at! And by that, I mean it’s the most important component in developing happiness, love, peace, gratitude, or any other emotion you are looking to experience in life.
The problem is mindset is also what keeps us stuck in negative thought patterns and belief systems. It’s not easy to maintain a positive mindset, especially when you are going through difficult things in life, as many of us are.
That’s why it is essential that we engage in practices that build up a positive mindset. Some ways to do this include:
- Reading Personal Growth Books – If you continue to feed your mind with a constant stream of positive input, your mind can’t help but take on those qualities. Here’s a list of my top 10 personal growth books.
- Practice Seeing Things From Other Perspectives – When we get stuck in our own way of thinking, we can easily get stuck in a pity party because we are constantly making ourselves right about how much things suck. But the truth is that your perspective is only one in a sea of millions of perspectives. There is always another way to see things. The more you practice looking at things differently, the more you will start to see your mindset shift.
- Hang Around Positive People – We become like the people we hang out with, whether we want that to happen or not, so it’s important to spend as much time as you can with positive people. If you are surrounded by people who tend to be more negative, you can bring more positive influences into your life through podcasts, seminars, and video trainings by positive people.
- Take a Break From Media – I have never really watched the news, and I don’t allow it to be on in my house when I’m around. It’s a way of protecting myself from the negativeness of the media. Most news is negative and borderline traumatizing and does nothing good for us. Try taking a break from it and notice how much better you feel.
Celebrate the Moments Between the Moments
Sometimes, life can feel like it is stagnant. Maybe there isn’t much going on, and the days are just blending together with no big ups to be excited about or downs to complain about.
These are the moments between the moments, and they are certainly something to appreciate. I often have a hard time with this one because when I don’t feel like my life is moving forward, I start to go a little stir-crazy. But, I am learning to see the beauty in these moments, and here’s why…
Life is kind of like a roller coaster. There will always be ups and downs and ebbs and flows. It is the nature of life, and there really is no way of avoiding it. So, these moments between moments are the breath before the plunge, the calm before the storm. We’ll either get hit with an up or a down when it’s over, so take that breath, enjoy it, and hang on for the ride.
Be Grateful For Your Life’s Work
We all have a “life’s work.” It can be viewed as the theme or purpose of your life. It’s the main thing you are here to experience. For some, it’s their actual work like writing books that impact millions of people, for others, it’s being an incredible mom or dad, and for others, it’s learning self-control or gaining self-esteem.
Whatever it is for you, it’s important to honor it, and view it as your life’s work. If you feel like you’ve been struggling all your life in one certain area, it could very well be your life’s work, and by realizing that, you can learn to relax about it and let it unfold over your life instead of just wishing it would change.
Celebrate All of Our Beautiful Differences
Each person, culture, and race is unique. Each person’s approach to a situation is different. The way people see the world is different.
There are differences everywhere…
And it’s okay!
It’s actually good. It’s beautiful. It’s what creates so many interesting experiences in the world. Without it, life would be dull, boring, and uneventful.
Let’s be grateful for each other’s differences and celebrate them.
Be Careful What You Focus On
Life is really all about perception and focus. What we focus on expands, and the quality of the experiences we have in life are completely dependent on our perception of those experiences.
Are you focusing on how tired you feel or how misbehaved your kids have been? If so, try to instead focus on things that make you feel energized or on your children’s greatnesses.
Whatever we focus on is what we are going to see in life. If you were looking at a pile of buttons and were focusing only on the red ones, those are the ones you would see, while you won’t remember much about the others. It’s the same in life. If you are focusing only on the things you hate about your life, that’s all you will see, and then you will completely miss all the goodness that is already there.
I certainly find that my life goes up and down, and there are times when I realize that I’ve been complaining and focusing on all the wrong things. I’m assuming it is the same for others.
The practices explained above are what I constantly come back to throughout my life to help me be grateful. They are kind of my staples when it comes to mental health and happiness.
What are yours? Please share in the comment section below!
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