Tips for developing an attitude of gratitude

A dad colors at the coffee table with his two kids while sitting on the couch. He is teaching them about gratitude.

We’ve all had days where problems seem to pile up.

You could be rushing to get to work on time to meet a project deadline only to find your car has a flat tire. When you finally get to the office, you realize you left some crucial paperwork at home. At the end of the day, your friends call with a last-minute dinner invitation, but all you want to do is go home.

On days like this, what if you flipped the switch and viewed these annoyances through a lens of gratitude? What would that look like?

Attitude adjustment

You could focus on the fact that you have a car that typically gets you to work every day. And you’ve got a job with an employer who has enough confidence in your abilities to offer you a challenging project.

And instead of being annoyed at the last minute dinner invite eating into your personal time, think about how lucky you are to have friends who look forward to spending time with you.

Research has shown that intentionally focusing on the positive things that happen—no matter how small—can make you a happier person, having short-term and long-term benefits.

Gratitude is powerful

Briefly stopping to remind yourself what you are thankful for in your life—family, friends, a good meal, a treasured memory—gives you a short-term burst of happiness. It just makes you feel good.

And people who are able to routinely express their gratitude seem friendlier, and that means others want to be around them more. They also describe themselves as less depressed and more able to cope with stressful situations.

Cultivating a feeling of thankfulness also seems to improve how you care for yourself, whether it’s getting a better night’s sleep, making sure to squeeze in their annual check-up, or simply making time for regular exercise.

So how do you start making little moments of gratitude part of your day in order to reap these long-lasting benefits? It’s OK to start small.

Hands hold a thank you card. Handwritten notes or cards are a great way to express gratitude.

Express gratitude daily

Go beyond the simple thank-you. For example, if a co-worker offers to pick up some extra work from your list of shared tasks, tell them personally how much you appreciate it, or follow up with an email or appreciative note.

Never underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you card.

Write it down

Writing down the things you are thankful for is a way to reinforce the positives in your life. Jot down a few in a journal each day or collect them in a designated gratitude jar.

Not only do you benefit when you’re recording them, you benefit again when you choose to read them. It’s a great activity on Thanksgiving or the end of the year.

A mother holds her giggling child on a living room couch. Teaching  children about gratitude is a great idea.

Encourage it in your home

Share your gratitude practices with your family. Encouraging everyone to share what they’re grateful for can become a small ritual before dinner, or a sweet thing to do when you tuck your children into bed each night.

No matter how you choose to develop your gratitude habit, it’s sure to add more happiness to your life. And because gratitude is contagious, it will bring happiness to those around you, too.

So, what are you thankful for? Leave a comment and let us know. (And thanks for reading!)

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