Who wouldn’t like to feel more gratitude and happiness every day? Here are a few tips to help you along.
Being grateful isn’t about shoveling manure over the truth. It doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand, or hopping on a one-way train to Denial City. It certainly doesn’t mean you can’t vent, be mad, or have a bad day occasionally. (We’re all human here.)
And, no, practicing gratitude won’t morph you into a kale-smoothie-swigging hippie. (Nothing against hippies. Or kale.)
Being grateful means grabbing those misshapen, odd-ball lemons life throws your way and squeezing them into a fine vodka cocktail to sip at work when no one’s looking. I mean… On Fridays. (Cough.)
The science of gratitude
Turns out, there’s lots of science connecting gratitude and happiness. And who doesn’t like good ol’ sciencey proof? According to Shawn Achor, world-renowned Psychologist and best-selling author, happiness is a choice. You may be thinking, “Cool. Tell me more!” or…
“Mr. Achor can shut it. He doesn’t know about the three-ring circus that is my life.”
Wait. Hear me out…. In this CBC News article, Achor explains that practicing happiness exercises—meditation, acts of kindness, and gratitude—every day for three weeks can rewire your brain to feel more happiness. I believe it because I’ve tried it. (More on that later.) But first…
Here’s how to create an attitude of gratitude at home:
1. Look around
What modern household conveniences are you grateful for? All across the world—even in first-world countries—many folks lack access to basic necessities. How would your life change without proper shelter or access to running water for cooking, washing, and bathing?
What if you didn’t have comfy furniture to sit on, or four walls to shelter you from wind, rain, and snow? The thought certainly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? If you look hard enough, you’ll realize there’s plenty to be grateful for.
2. Give something up
Just for a day, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Try bathing without hot water, or camping out in your backyard. “Make myself uncomfortable on purpose? Whyyyyy?!” Being cozy is great. I get it. But giving up something you take for granted—if only for a day—will give you and your family a new appreciation for what you do have.
When our hot water tank blew, we showered using boiled water and pots and pans for a week straight. It was inconvenient, the dishes piled up, and our roasting pan got lots of mileage. But I’ll never look at showers the same. Some people live their whole lives without access to hot water.
3. Practice gratitude together
Instead of airing your grievances at the dinner table—what do you mean you forgot to take out the garbage?—change the conversation. Thank each family member for one thing, and list off three things you’re grateful for. Did little Johnny remember to walk the dog? Thank him. Grateful to have a roof over your head? Say the words.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but feeling grateful—and giving and receiving praise—may be just what you need to dig yourself out of that funk.
Every night before I go to bed, I write down a few things I’m grateful for. If I need a pick-me-up, I read my gratitude journal. Even if I’ve had a dreadful, rotten, no-good day, there’s always something to be grateful for.
Gratitude in your home
How do you practice gratitude at home? Tell us in the comments!