I am trying to train myself continuously to be more grateful, but I know that many things in my life I am taking for granted, that I actually should be grateful of (and I guess I somehow also like to complain about things).
But in the past months, especially during the omnipresent impact of Covid-19, I think we all have understood that we shouldn’t take things as self-evident but enjoy the beauty of the good moments we have.
But first, what is gratitude actually?
Shortly said: Gratitude has many faces.
It “has been conceptualized as an emotion, a virtue, a moral sentiment, a motive, a coping response, a skill, and an attitude. It is all of these and more. Minimally, gratitude is an emotional response to a gift. It is the appreciation felt after one has been the beneficiary of an altruistic act” (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000).
So, gratitude is some kind of achievement.
You might ask yourself why you should try to be more grateful?
Gratitude has a powerful impact and it is even said that people who practice gratitude actively have an improvement in their lifestyle due to a more positive and thankful mind. But it doesn’t just have a positive impact on your life, it will also have a beneficial impact on the life of others (But for Karma and the energies of the universe we keep a separate chapter)
So let’s get started, here are our 10 tips on how to learn gratitude:
1. Write down what you are grateful for
Write three things you are grateful for into your daily gratitude diary, or you can also integrate a spot for it in your bullet journal in case you are following one. Tip. We suggest you not to write too plain things inside like “I am grateful for my best friend”, in that case, you will run out of things soon and start repeating yourself. Try to be a bit more precise like “Today my best friend directly called me when I texted her that I am not well” or “My boyfriend invited me out for dinner so we didn’t have to cook after a long day of work” (I think I can put this endlessly times on my bullet journal 😉 Research has shown that simply keeping a gratitude journal—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.
2. Say thank you!
Show your gratitude! Tell it to the person you are grateful for. Tell it to your mother, your grandparents, whoever made you feel grateful for! You can also think about texting someone on the social media that you don’t know but that always makes you feel strong and encourages you. (Yes, there are also good vibes you can find on the socials 😉 But it is also important not just to show gratitude in your private life: Say thank you to your co-worker who helped you, tell him if he did a good job!
3. Gratitude is not just about the big things
We need to understand that gratitude is not just about the big things in life, it is also about the very small things – things you might even sometimes take for granted. Like you use a public toilet and you got the last sheets of toilet paper.
(When I was young my mother described once a woman that she considered as “very lucky” with “She was like one of those women, that was lucky: We all went on a trip, had a stopover at a pull-in and all the girls went to the bathroom and she was the only one who went into a toilet with toilet paper” I guess you haven’t been grateful for that yet? But maybe you should be 😉 If you start paying attention, this list will get endless!
4. Find gratitude in your challenges
But it is not just about being thankful for the small things, it is also about being grateful for the challenges life holds for you. I know this might sound a little bit weird, but remember the last challenge you had? You learnt something new and maybe retrospectively the same challenge seems so small to you now? Keep going, girl! Make the best out of your challenges, and also being positive about them will make them feel easier for you! (And maybe that colleague you showed your gratitude the other day will even help you?)
5. Be grateful for the uncontrollable nature
It’s also important to be grateful for things you cannot control, like the weather or nature in general. Your plant grows weirdly one specific direction? Be grateful that it IS growing. 😉 (Tip: Maybe next time try to turn your plants a few centimetres always when you water them). Enjoy the diversity of nature, like the beauty of a big storm and how much it will nourish the grass and trees, even if you actually wanted to have a picnic with friends. Make some tea and enjoy the moment that even though things went differently the moment can be appreciated.
6. Try to understand the perspective of others
Sometimes we are so much in our own bubble, that we forget to look at those around us. And maybe there is someone close to you that is currently not feeling so well or had a negative experience or set-back in life. Try to get into their shoes and be empathetic to them. Try to be there for them. And don’t forget sometimes it is not needed to talk but just to listen or not to speak at all. (Tip: Ordering Pizza in makes everyone a bit happier)
7. Express your gratitude
We sometimes tend to complain more than we say positive things, so if you enjoyed this heavy summer rain. Say so! Saying out loud the things you enjoy and are grateful for can get you in a better mood. And no worries, if no one is around. It’s even better to do it in front of a mirror! (Otherwise, you can also share a voicemail with someone who is currently in not feeling so well)
8. Get a gratitude jar
This is an idea I stumbled upon recently if you don’t want to practice your gratitude on a daily base but focus on it more in general: Get a gratitude jar! And always when you are thankful for something write it on a paper and put it in your jar. At the end of the year, you can open it and read it out loud. It’s also a nice way to recall all the small good things that happened and that we might otherwise not think of again. (And surely it will somehow give you the feeling that it has been a good year even if you didn’t go to the gym every day as you planned in your new year’s resolutions.)
And something that we need to understand is that as long as our problems are not existential financial or health problems and we have a roof over our head, things are just fine. And we can count ourselves part of the lucky ones. A good way of sharing your gratitude towards your life is to share something of your “wealth” with others. You can donate money, but we all know that there are also other things like that are important. You can also share your time and health: Do community service or donate your blood.
10. Be grateful for yourself and your body (and health)
And this is maybe one of the most important things, we always put ourselves and our body so much under pressure, so don’t forget to be grateful for yourself. For all the small improvements you did to break out of your bad habits. For your body, with, however, it is shaped. It is beautiful the way it is and as long as it is healthy, it does the job it is designed for, be grateful for this.
Gratitude is like focussing on the good things in life and embracing negative thoughts with positivity and not letting you get pulled down.
Don’t focus on the things that bother you, appreciate the good things instead, it somehow feels like getting into balance with your life and freeing your mind from its constraints.
Like the Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”