‘Gratitude is a habit of the heart.’ Alexis de Tocqueville
It’s all very well knowing gratitude is the best attitude but how do we actually do it – how do we do gratitude? Because we’re not talking about noticing a lot of nice things today that make us feel all warm and fuzzy and then forgetting it all for the next month. That’s not going to help us much.
And the evidence tells us that gratitude and appreciation are helpful to us.
They make us feel happier right now, and in our lives in the future, they put us in a good place from which to make the changes we want.
As we mentioned last week, by deliberately seeking out gratitude filled moments you train your mind to be on the look out for more.
An article by Eric Barker in TIME Magazine this week ‘Here’s How to Scientifically Train Your Mind to Be Happy’ talked about the very same thing.
He wrote that training your mind to look for errors and problems (as happens in careers like accounting and law) can lead to a pervasive pessimism that carries over into your personal life.
Yet these negative ways of thinking can be overcome by training your brain to seek out the good things in life. Primarily through counting your blessings day by day, i.e. practicing gratitude and appreciation. Alongside using retrospective judgement, basically putting a positive spin on negative past events to remember the good, and expecting things to get better because optimism can make you happier.
Cultivating the gratitude habit
And the key to getting the benefits of gratitude and appreciation is to make a habit of our gratitude.
So how do we do that? Well how do we make any habit? We practice it (either intentionally or not) by doing it over and over again, until with repetition it becomes ingrained in our mind.
But how do you practice gratitude and doesn’t that sound a bit like hard work?
OK so like most things worth doing in life it might take a little effort. And we’re certainly not saying we have this perfected ourselves by any means. But we’re trying it – we think it’s worth the effort and we invite you to try it out for yourself too.
After all what have you got to lose? Feeling better about your life and the world, enjoying and making the most of your life, and having a positive impact on those around you as you’re happier in yourself.
The appreciation list
The most simple straightforward way to kick start your gratitude habit is to write down 3 new things you are grateful for and appreciate each day.
And if you want to really supercharge the launch of your gratitude habit then start your appreciation list with 10 new things you appreciate every day.
Do this every day for 30 days and by the end of a month you’ll have a list of the 300 items, people, experiences, and sensations you’ve appreciated on purpose. And reading through this is sure to make you feel good.
Hear us talk about all of this and more on ways to turn gratitude from a few nice thoughts every once in a while to a mind management technique that works. Listen to episode 34 of The Changeability Podcast.
Resources and links mentioned in this post and podcast episode 34:
- Changeability: Manage your Mind Change your Life – the international best seller by Kathryn Bryant
- Buck books – If you sign up for Buck books you receive details of up to 10 Kindle books, each available at about $1/£1 for that day.
- Episode 34 – Gratitude is the best attitude
- Time Magazine article – ‘Here’s how to scientifically train the mind to be happy‘ – Ed Barker
- Affirmations for Gratitude – Appreciate to Accumulate