5 Ways to Grow Your Gratitude
Starting off your day, you may feel as though ‘this will be a good day’ and by the time someone cuts you off on the way to work, or the morning coffee order is not right, or the day just don’t seem to be going as planned, you may begin to turn inward with your thinking and begin naval gazing. Thinking everything in life is going to pot, the day is wrecked and you don’t like your life any longer.
An extreme example, possibly, but the truth is, most of us experience a negative first thought when things are not going our way.
Some may be able to steer the thinking into a more rational, level-headed approach towards diluting the emotion, while others are left with a spiral downward into the world of Negative-Nelly.
We’ve all heard sayings that are meant to help us change our thinking.
- Pick yourself up by your bootstraps
- Dust off your knees
- Get up and get going
All phrases I have said before as well. Yet, these sometimes don’t do the trick and I’m left stewing about the situation while analyzing how silly a phrase the above seems… growing more cynical.
What is it about going inward and naval gazing (as I mentioned in the scenario above) that leaves us swimming in our pit of negativity and unfulfilled with our day?
In this state, our focus turns on ourselves. Our own feelings of being let down, disappointed, discouraged, defeated, frustrated, angry, fed-up. We begin to lose sight of all the good things in our lives and we head down the rabbit-trail of negativity which leads us to more negative thoughts and we begin to pick apart all the things that aren’t working, that aren’t going well in our life and picking apart areas where we are unsatisfied.
These are some thoughts that I recall thinking: “I don’t like my job”, “I’ll never meet my soul-mate”, “I don’t get paid enough”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m too fat”, “No one likes me”, “No one appreciates the work that I do”, “I’m not pretty enough”, “Life is too hard”.
Negativity is full of “I” statements. Either I or someone did something to me. Inward… self-centered.
So what’s the solvent that changes the negative into a positive? How can you help your mind shift from focusing on negative thoughts and emotions to becoming more focused on the positive?
Well, it’s just that. Focusing on the positive.
What IS going well in your life? What are the benefits of your current situation? What are you learning through the current challenge? How are you able to grow in your character with what is happening in your day?
Life happens. Day in and day out we get opportunities to learn and grow in our own character while being in a relationship with others.
When we stay focused on the negative, we miss the chance for growth because negativity is passive. It happens TO us.
By changing your thinking into the positive, you are engaging in the opportunity to grow and learn more about who you are and how you navigate through the world. Positive thinking is a muscle you get to strengthen. The more you focus on the positive and the openings towards growth in each day, the more naturally this approach will become.
One of the best ways to reframe your thinking to become more positive is to fill your thoughts with gratitude.
We have the gift of life, of breath, of exploration within this world and the sheer fact that you woke up today is something to be grateful for. All too often we overlook the simple facts of life and compare ourselves to what we don’t have, shortchanging the things we do.
Always wanting more, not satisfied with what we have, thinking ‘once we get ___, then I’ll be happy’. Engaging in the pattern of thinking that will always set us up for dissatisfaction and being unfulfilled.
Some tools to help fill your mind with gratitude are below. Use them at the start to your day, throughout your day, and/or when you end your day. All you need is the desire to change your thinking in order to experience the opportunities for healthy growth, today.
On a piece of paper write, “I’m grateful for…” and proceed to write out ALL the things you are grateful for. You can start small, by listing your top 5 things for the moment. Think outside of your feelings and look at the world around you with the eyes of what you DO have. See the people around you and notice what is going well in your life.
When you go to bed, take a moment to write out various moments and experiences from your day that you are grateful for and ask God to show you any opportunities today where you were able to grow in your character.
On a piece of paper write, “I’m grateful for…” and then down the side of the paper write the alphabet, giving each letter one line. You can do this in 2 columns on the same page. Then begin filling in the page with various things that you are grateful for that start with the corresponding letter. There are some tricky letters, but you can get creative!
While sitting, or standing, close your eyes (if you can) and begin by saying, “I’m grateful for…” and continue to list all the body parts throughout your body and their function. An example would be: “I’m grateful for 10 toes that help me stay balanced so I can walk, ankles that move, knees that still bend and for the cracking of my knees from of all the years of athletic experiences I have from my youth that helped me become who I am today….”
You’ve heard the saying, “stop and smell the roses”, well this can be used by looking at your surroundings and soaking in the environment. While you’re driving, look at the sky, the clouds, the birds in the air. See the flowers, the grass, the nature that surrounds you. While you’re walking soak in the sunshine, pause your head-chatter of thoughts long enough to engage in the space you are standing, lavishing in the awe of nature and the inner-working of the systems of life. I love watching ants as they carry little bits of leaves back to their home. These LITTLE tiny things that have little tiny hearts and legs and bodies, moving on this pavement that to them is huge, carrying a broken off piece of leaf that will help them with their livelihood. The natural systems of this earth are so fascinating and help to put life’s troubles into perspective.
Simply writing a letter in your journal or praying to God, sharing and asking the things you want revealed to you that are blessings, gifts, and items to be grateful for. “God, help me to know where I am overlooking the things that you have given me to be grateful. I am so engulfed in my own feelings, wants and desires that I am missing the moments you have for me to experience with an open, soft, peaceful heart. I know I do not deserve my life, let alone the things in my life, so help me to turn my eyes to you with thanksgiving for all you have done and all you continue to do. Help me to learn and grow through the challenges of the day and to see it as an opportunity and not a punishment….”
Gratitude is a mindset. It’s what you choose to focus your time and energy on. Looking and analyzing and trying to figure out the problem, only makes the problem become more important in your world and tends to get larger. Focusing on the positive, the things that are going well and the opportunities you are receiving from situations help you to see that life is what you make of it.
Start by bringing more gratitude into your life.
If you’d like to talk more about your life and how you can bring more gratitude into your days, email me or click below to set up a phone call (called a Dreaming Session)! I’d love to talk more.