At a time of year we take harvest of our lives, for some, feeling gratitude can seem like a worthless effort. For others it is a common daily process. Practicing gratitude, I have leaned personally, has absolutely magical outcomes…. I guarantee it.
Despite the challenges in our lives, the downs that can feel heavy, or concerns for our future… we all have the ability to find and feel gratitude. Here are 6 ways I personally strengthen my gratitude muscle:
- I choose it. Like working out at the gym, we do not usually feel like intentionally choosing to practice gratitude. It is an emotional medicine, that when we focus on it, heals to depths we will never fully understand. We will only be able to find gratitude in our lives when we intentionally decide to choose it.
- Count your blessings. One of my favorite books is “The Curse of Blessings”, out of print now, yet very impactful. In the story, the young man is cursed to find a new blessing each day. ( and he cannot repeat one ever ) How can you search to see all the blessings in your life? A brand new baby day, a warm bed, a career you love, a loving spouse, a child in your life, a unique personality, or a special talent… You have wonderful things in your life already. Gratitude quickly sets in when we begin to spend a quiet moment each day remembering them. This practice alone has the potential to change your heart and life immeasurably.
- Share your happiness with others. We live in a world deficient on true human interaction. Recently at a photo shoot I had to hold the pose for a shot that had me staring lovingly into the eyes of a mother and her child. My arm wrapped around her shoulders as my hand held the tiny hand of her baby. Our eyes and hearts were engaged in a beautiful moment that, without the cameraman, would have slipped by in an instant. We were held together for over two minutes eyes to eyes, hearts to hearts. Take in your happiness and share it with the world. Be a happiness injection everywhere you go.
- Open your hearts to those with less. Almost half the world, over three billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day. 1 – 1 billion people have inadequate access to clean water, and 2 – 6 billion lack basic sanitation. Let those facts sink in for just a moment—and slowly allow gratitude and a desire to become part of the solution to take their place.
- Embrace humility. Humility is an essential ingredient in gratitude. A humble heart finds satisfaction in the gifts it already possesses and demands less from others and life. Remember that no matter what your accomplishments, your life contains no more inherent value than the person sitting next to you… no matter where you may be sitting.
- Stop focusing on what you don’t have. If we had a measure of the amount of thoughts focused on what we do not yet have, on what is wrong or on our unhappiness balanced against the positive, happy, joyful, faithful, full of possibility thoughts we have … how would your habits of thinking measure up? Too many people never feel the depths of gratitude because they spend so much mental energy focused on what they don’t have. Focus on what you do have… and your wants and wishes will be fulfilled.