3 Ways to Cultivate More Gratitude (and Live a Happier Life!)
They say that our attitude towards life can transform an ordeal into an adventure, and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to gratitude. In short, gratitude is a state of appreciation and thankfulness for what is valuable and meaningful in our lives. It isn’t surprising then, that studies suggest those who practice an attitude of gratitude experience more feelings of happiness, life satisfaction and wellbeing (1, 2, 3).
So how do we go about cultivating more gratitude in our lives?
Staying grounded and grateful can be difficult in a world with so many outward distractions and influences, whether that’s television, youtube or your instagram feed.
Gratitude is something that I continue to work on – but these techniques have really been helping me to shift my state into one of greater appreciation and enthusiasm for life.
Here are 3 ways that I’ve started cultivating a deeper sense of gratitude in my daily life:
#1 Spend Time in Nature and Practice Being Present
Getting outside and spending time in nature can be one of the most grounding experiences, connecting us with the larger picture of life and putting our problems into perspective. Start developing a sense of awe for the world around you by practicing presence.
When I talk about ‘presence’, I mean tuning out of your head and into the world around you (this can take some effort!). Listen for near and distant sounds, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin or the breeze against your face. Personally, I find this to be one of the most effective and powerful practices as it allows gratitude to arise naturally.
Develop a sense of awe for the world around you. This could mean:
- Taking a short walk in the morning: Walking in the morning is a great way to start the day with a sense of gratitude. Practice being present as you walk, noticing colours, shapes, sounds and smells.
- Eat outside: If you can, try eating a meal outside. This could mean eating breakfast on the veranda or taking a walk to the park during your lunch break.
- Look up more: How often do you actually look up to the sky? On crappy days – even as I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic – I try to take notice of the sky or a sunset. This instantly reminds me of how vast the universe is and puts my problems into perspective. By maintaining a vast view of the world in the midst of our day-to-day lives, we are more able to see things for what they really are and to appreciate the life that we have.
#2 Speak Your Gratitude
I’ve experimented with gratitude journalling in the past, but for some reason it never stuck for me (though I know a lot of people swear by it!).
Instead, what I found worked more effectively was vocalising my gratitude. In the evenings, I would ask my boyfriend what he was grateful for that day, and he would return the question. Some days were definitely harder than others to see the good – however, there really is always something to be grateful for, no matter how small. So challenge yourself to find the good in every day (even the crappy ones!), and share that positivity with others.
Though we haven’t done this for a while (I often forget!), this is a habit that I would like to do more often!
#3 Expect Nothing and Appreciate Everything
Start taking note of the little things. The friend who made you laugh. The person who helped you out when they didn’t have to.
One thought that I like to come back to is ‘nobody is obligated to do anything for you’. At first, this may sound harsh or cynical – but this statement really crushes our sense of entitlement and reminds us not to take anything for granted. In the end, it really shines a light on how much kindness there is in the world.
So take stock of all the little acts of kindness you receive throughout the day!
How do you practice gratitude? Comment below!