“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Maybe the simplest and most effortless habit for living a happier life is to take one or a few minutes every day to focus on what is already here and that you can be grateful for in your life.
It can help you to…
- Lift your mood and boost motivation very quickly.
- Find the things in your life that you want to focus even more of your time and energy on.
- Not just take things for granted and to find joy even during the tougher times.
It is simply a great habit to cultivate that demands little but gives much back.
So this week I'd like to explore 5 small tips that you can use to cultivate more gratitude and happiness in your life.
1. Pause and look around yourself.
A first simple step to build the gratitude habit is simply to pause in your everyday life and to ask yourself questions like:
- What can I be grateful for in my life today?
- Who are 3 people that I can be grateful to have in my life and why?
If you cannot come up with several things or people every day then that is OK. If you find one thing or one person then that is great too. Don’t get hung up on the numbers.
Just take a few minutes and see what you come up with.
Try to not repeat the same things too often. Instead, try to think of more things and people you can be grateful for in your life.
2. Look towards yourself.
Don’t just look outward.
Take a look at yourself too. A habit of being appreciative and grateful towards yourself is a simple way to improve self-esteem and self-confidence.
What are 3 things I can be grateful for about myself?
It could be that you were a good father/mother/friend in a moment of crisis this week. It could be that you finally got done with that task you had been procrastinating on.
Your self-gratitude does not have to be all about achievements at work or in school for example.
You can simply be grateful for your good sense of humor or that you help people out a lot by being a good listener from time to time.
3. Take a closer look at the very smaller things or what you may take for granted.
Don’t just focus on the big and obvious things you can be grateful for.
Like the plant just in front of my laptop that I am writing these words on.
It is not a remarkable plant. But its simple beauty in the vibrant green color, how it keeps growing on just a little water and sunshine and the faint smell of nature is something simple I feel grateful for.
Another thing that I am grateful for today – that I may sometimes take for granted – was my lunch. It was a few potatoes with some grilled chicken and a dollop of sauce. It was delicious.
And, more importantly, I don’t have to go hungry. I am in the very fortunate position of being able to eat lunch every day.
- What is one very small thing that I can be grateful for today?
- What is one thing I may usually for granted that I can be grateful for?
Opening your eyes to the small and daily things you can appreciate lets you truly see more of the simple beauty in life.
4. Do it early or late in your day.
But how do you get the gratitude habit to stick and not just become one of those things you forget about or abandon after a few days?
Two things that I have found effective are:
- Take 1 minute in the morning to get a good start to your day by finding 3 small or big things you are grateful for in your life.
- Take 1-2 minutes each evening and use a journal to write down maybe 3 or 5 things you are grateful for about your day, about yourself or about your life.
Try one of these tiny time commitments every day for a week and see how it impacts your thoughts, feelings and life.
5. Express your gratitude.
Don’t just keep the gratitude on the inside. Express it.
Make other people happier too – and help them to perhaps pay it forward later on – by expressing how you are grateful for having them in your life.
Plus, their smile and the joy in their eyes when you tell them this will make you happier too.
Now, that gratitude could just be a small sentence. But it can have a big impact on someone’s day, week or even life sometimes.
So tell the people in your life.
Tell them in person tonight. Or write an email or a letter to someone a little further away in the world. Or send a small text message right now.