4 Ways to practice gratitude so that it changes your life

We’ve all heard over and over how, if we practice gratitude on a daily basis, our lives will change. But it’s not always easy to do when you’re in a crappy place and can’t see beyond the struggles!

Regardless of where you’re at in life, when things just don’t seem to be working out the way you want them to, and there seems to be struggle after struggle, it’s hard to feel grateful.

But it can be done.

And it honestly can change your life.

How?

Because it changes your mindset.  Your thinking.

And when that changes, your life changes.

Honestly! I can’t stress that enough!

If you don’t believe me, then try what I’m about to share with you and see for yourself just how changing your thinking and your thought patterns will change your life.

Ready?

  •  Each morning, before you get out of bed, make a list of 5 things you’re grateful for in your life. 

When I was going through a major issue and struggling very hard, I did this.  I had a client I was working with long term and it was one of the most draining times of my life.  I kid you not.  I started doubting everything about me, and I mean everything!  But especially my skills and ability to do the job.

So, each day I started my gratitude list, and one of the things I listed was THAT client.  Even though they were the source of my stress, I was still grateful for the work (I actually enjoyed the things we were working on, just not the person), and I was grateful for the growth and the insights I could learn. 

If you can come up with 5 different things each day, great!  But if not, don’t worry about it, just keep using the same things.  It isn’t so much the number of things you’re grateful for, but the fact that you are grateful.

This list can be written if you’re the journaling type, or just say it to yourself if you’re not.  But do it every morning.

  •  Create a Gratitude Jar.

Get a jar, an ordinary mason jar or an old pickle jar will do.  You can leave it plain or jazz it up.  Or choose a container that’s decorative and fun.  Whatever tickles your fancy. 

Each day, write something you’re grateful for, or something good that happened that day, on a piece of paper and tuck it into the jar.  Depending on how much you’re struggling, take out those pieces of paper and read them; it could be monthly, a few times a year, or yearly. 

Do this alone, or even better…do this as a family.  Maybe do your own, plus another one as a family!  What’s really cool is creating a ‘bonding’ tradition for your family, if you’re going to do this together.  I highly recommend it!  Each member adds their piece of paper every week; then once a year these are read out loud for everyone to share in the good things that happened.  New Year’s Day is a popular time to do this, but you could create your own family time around this any time of the year.

The variations of this are limited only by your imagination.  Think about what will work for you and do it that way.

  •  Give yourself space and time to nurture yourself.

Especially when the struggles are intense.  More then ever, you need to care for yourself.  When you’re sick, you do extra things to take care of yourself; this should be no different.  You need to have the energy and emotional wellbeing to get through tough times, so do what you have to, to stay strong, centred and focussed on the positives. 

Spend time alone with your thoughts (good thoughts!), spend time with people who make you feel good, and spend time doing something you love to do.  And don’t forget the usual feel good requirements – nourishing foods, exercise and fresh air, and enough sleep.

In order to focus on the positives in your life, you need to bring as much of that into your life as you can.  All of the small things add up here!

  •  Look for a learning opportunity in whatever you’re struggling with. 

This one is probably the hardest.  When you’re neck deep in something that’s causing you a lot of stress and angst, it’s hard to identify, let alone appreciate anything good about it.  But it’s there, you just have to find it.  Just as I did with that much-less-than-ideal client! 

As you’re going through this time, identify the positive and keep your focus there, until it’s behind you.

It will help to make the unbearable a little more bearable, and you’ll grow as a person too.

How this all works is that when you’re focussed on the positives, and grateful for the positive things in your life, without realizing it you’re opening yourself up for more of it. 

You’re more aware of what’s going on around you and the positive possibilities that present themselves that you likely won’t and can’t see if you’re mired in stress and negativity.

If you’re in a crappy place and struggling, I ask you to try this.  And see if your situation doesn’t improve, at least a little!

Featured photo courtesy of Unsplash/ Jay Castor

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