Do you say “thank you”? Not as an automatic response because you were taught good manners, but a real, feel-it-in-your-heart sense of genuine appreciation and pure joy? Who do you say it to? God? The Universe? Yourself? Your family and friends? Your boss or co-workers?
We get so wrapped up in the “busyness” of our days that we often treat people as if they are invisible. We take them for granted unless they irritate us in some way. We stare at a screen instead of interacting with the people around us. With all the distractions in our world, we must make a conscious, on-purpose effort to be thankful and let others know how we feel. Small, intentional thoughts and actions lead to big results.
Maybe you’re in a tough place in your life right now and you’re not feeling too grateful for anything. Maybe you’re in an okay place, but you just feel like you have nothing to be excited about. We know, we’ve been there! But guess what? That can all start changing right now.
How would you like to feel grateful and joyous on a daily basis? How would you feel at the end of the day knowing that your actions made a difference to someone else? You can achieve this with a few simple habits practiced daily. It may feel contrived at first, but soon you will marvel at how these practices capture your thoughts and make you actually feel grateful and optimistic. You know that saying, “fake it till you make it?” That’s kind of what we’re talking about here.
Grumpy to Grateful in 3 Steps a Day
- Grateful Mornings: As soon as you wake up, before you get out of bed, think of three things you are grateful for. At first maybe all you can think of are simple, obvious things like a roof over your head or the fact that you woke up at all. Seriously, this is where we started in the beginning. Just go with it, you’ll get better!
- Thankful Actions: As you go about your day, find three people you appreciate and tell them. It could be as simple as telling the store clerk she’s doing a great job and you appreciate her efforts. It could be telling your spouse or your child something about them you are thankful for. Start with the family dog if you have to, just complete the action! Always add a smile and make sure that whatever you say is true—you can always find something good if you look hard enough.
- Peaceful Evenings: Reflect on your day. Did you complete steps one and two? Did they make a difference—maybe even make you smile a bit more? Some days will be easier than others. Just be sure you are making gratitude a priority and you will make progress!
It’s a funny thing about gratitude: the more you practice it intentionally, the more it becomes an automatic response to daily situations. It is possible to become a cheerful optimist who often sees the best in all circumstances. Some people just seem “born” that way. We are not those people…we have to work at it!
As the practice gets easier, you may want to take things a step further. Try reading A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life by John Kralik. By looking for opportunities to personally thank people via handwritten notes in his daily life, this man brought smiles to others and turned his own feelings of bitterness and failure into some powerful gratitude. After reading this book, we felt inspired to keep a pack of positive prewritten note cards on hand and give them to people to let them know they are appreciated.
If you aren’t into the written word, that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to show appreciation: smile and say thank you with eye contact throughout your day; complete a thoughtful gesture that shows your appreciation for someone—hold a door open for another, bring a coffee to a co-worker, plan a special treat or activity with your family for no reason at all, call a friend just to tell her you think she’s great.
One final consideration to your decision to practice gratitude: it boosts your immune system and contributes to overall wellness. Yes, being thankful can actually affect your health for the better! Now that’s something we can definitely get on board with!
We hope you will put these tools into action right away and begin to feel the power of a grateful heart in your everyday life. Remember, true health is a multi-faceted endeavor—you need a healthy body, mind, and spirit. Try this crazy, fun approach and take your health to the next level!