Losing sight of the important things in life is easily done — especially in the more difficult moments. Sometimes we forget to appreciate the good parts of our lives and the things that we are truly thankful for. This can often be because we live such busy lives with so many different things to stay on top of.
One of the best things that we can do in moments of overwhelm is to take a step back and reflect. This time can be used an an opportunity to become aware of how expressing gratitude can change our mindsets and our lives. It can remind us of the positive things that we have worked so hard for, and for all of the amazing things that we simply could not imagine life without.
When you stop to take this time to express gratitude, then you will naturally push negativity from your mind. You just won't have space for any of the things that your brain wants to dwell on because you will be busy focusing on the good things instead!
Doing so will also show you that there is so much beauty in the small and simple parts of your life — the things that you have possibly begun to take for granted.
So, how can you get started with expressing gratitude, and how can you be sure to make it a regular part of your everyday life?
1. Start Small, Appreciate Everything
There is nothing too small to give thanks for! The home you wake up in every morning, the clothes you wear to keep you warm, and the food in your cupboards — these may all seem like normal things to you. However, these are not things that everyone is blessed to continuously and reliably have in their lives.
Really give yourself time to take stock of the things that you consider to be relatively small, and try to imagine how your life would be different if you didn't always have them.
Once you have started to build up an appreciation for the simple things, you will begin to see the positivity in the smallest of actions and gestures — leading you to better appreciate those around you too!
2. Find Something Good In The Bad
It can be easy to dismiss every unpleasant experience as just that — something to be forgotten and to move on from. Although this can seem like the best thing to do when a bad situation has presented, there is also a lot to be gained from trying to process and take something positive.
Perhaps a relationship or friendship has come to an end and you are mourning the loss of this person in your life. Instead of being sad or angry that this has happened, try to understand the ‘how' and the ‘why' of the situation. Was this person really giving you the love and kindness that you deserve? Were they building you up with their actions or were they draining your emotional energy?
Although loss is difficult — especially the loss of a person we are used to having around — the end of this connection often happens for a reason that is ultimately positive.
Use this opportunity to better understand who you are without this person, and who you have become since knowing them. Express gratitude in your mind for the things that you are thankful to this person for, and then release the situation from your mind.
This same thought process can be used for anything that has come to an end or changed in your life. All you have to do is reframe the situation to understand how your life has changed for the better and then give yourself permission to move on.
3. Use A Mindfulness Practice
Gratitude is something that you can express at any time and in a number of different forms. It can happen in spontaneous moments, but is also something you can deliberately carve out time for.
A mindfulness practice for gratitude can look like this:
- Take a seat in a quiet and comfortable space with a pen and a piece of paper
- Write a list of ten things that you are grateful for – yes I'm sure everyone has ten!!
- If you find that you keep writing after ten then encourage that flow to continue
- Read through your list and give yourself a few moments to concentrate on each item
- Sit with these thoughts for a moment and let the gratitude wash over you
Do this at least once a week, and more often if you have the time. By purposefully creating situations where you are reminded of the wonderful things in your life, your default thought process will be more inclined to the positive.
4. Start A Gratitude Journal
Writing about your thoughts and your day to day experiences is something I believe there is so much value in.
Only when we genuinely take the time to reflect on the things we experience, and the lessons that we are continuously presented with, can we begin to make sense of our own lives. Keeping a journal gives us some additional time to reflect and process certain events that we may not have dealt with properly in the present moment that they happened.
Use your journal as an opportunity to remind yourself of the things that you are grateful for. You can do this as a list or you can write in more detail. You can also use your journal to write letters to the people that you are grateful to. It is then up to you whether you share this with these people or not!
Having additional support as you invite positive change into your life — such as adopting an ongoing gratitude practice — is a great way to stay on track.
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