5 Easy Ways to Make Gratitude a Habit You’ll Love to Practice Forever
You’re not alone if you have days when you feel down or unfulfilled—even the most successful people do as well.
We all go deal with the ups and downs of life in different ways—and while there are tons of different strategies and tactics you can use to lift your spirits, overcome obstacles or crush your goals, there one key element seems to be present in all of them: practicing gratitude.
It turns out, we turn to gratitude for a good reason. Research shows that being grateful can physically change your brain and boost happiness.
Ready for a re-wire in the name of being thankful? Read on for five tips that’ll help you make practice a regular part of your daily life.
1. Start small
Just like when starting anything new, practicing gratitude is most effective when you start small. Instead of trying to change your entire mindset in a single day, focus on finding one tiny thing that you appreciate between the time you wake up in the morning and wind down for bed at night. This could be as simple as an awesome quality in a friend or co-worker, an afternoon snack that hits the spot, nice weather, or your favorite song on the radio at the perfect time.
Make it a point to be fully present during your moment of appreciation, fully taking in what you love about what’s in front of you and why you enjoy it. Once you start honing in on the little details you missed before, you’ll begin to notice more and more greatness around you — just like magic!
2. Stop comparing, right NOW
Though stacking yourself up against other people is seriously tempting (especially when it comes to what you see on social media), making comparisons is a huge no-no when it comes to mastering your gratitude practice. As Oprah beautifully says, “Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”
3. Write it down
Pick up a pencil for some old-fashioned journaling because writing down what you’re thankful for is an awesome way to chronicle all of the details in your life, whether they’re big or small. In fact, writing something down is a surefire way to better remember it, which means you’ll find it easier to call up and continue to appreciate all of the special things you begin to notice on the daily.
Another bonus? Flipping through your journal can serve as a powerful reminder and instant mood enhancer anytime you’re feeling low.
4. Give more
Feeling bummed out? Try doing something nice for someone else — not only will it brighten your mood to bring someone else joy, but you’ll probably feel ultra-grateful for your time, talents, abilities or whatever else you have to offer. Sometimes, all it takes is lending your listening ear for a few minutes or smiling to a stranger on the street.
Don’t ever underestimate how much simple kindness can do; both for someone else and for your own gratitude practice. According to TIME, “experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable.”
5. Keep it regular
Did you know that it takes about 66 days to form a habit? It’s true: experts agree that two months of regular practice is the average amount of time you’ll need to put in before a new behavior or pattern becomes automatic. That said, consistency is key when it comes to helping your new gratitude habit and mindset stick — so keep looking for the mini-moments, noting the best things around you, focusing on yourself (and your goals), and giving as much of your good energy and talents to the people around you as you can.
In what will feel like little to no time at all, the stuff you need to think about now will naturally become a part of your more joyful and thankful new life. Bring on the happiness!
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