Inspiring Your Muse with an Attitude of Gratitude
For the longest time, I always thought that practicing gratitude was a load of bullshit. To me, focusing on what you’re grateful for felt too woo woo. I thought that gratitude was something that fake people practiced to brag about for appearance’s sake.
It wasn’t until I reached a point in my life where I desperately needed gratitude that my attitude changed. I just graduated college and started working my first 9-5. I was stuck in an hour and a half long commute, felt completely like a fish out of water, and was a general emotional train wreck for three months.
After lamenting my struggles to my best friend for weeks on end (oh, that sweet, patient woman), she told me about her nightly gratitude practice. Every night, she thinks of three things she’s grateful for while falling asleep.
She said that the practice changed her perspective on her day and gave her something positive to think about before bed.
I totally admit, I dug my heels in on this. I was less than thrilled to hear more about this “gratitude” junk and really wanted something that felt more practical and real. Gratitude still felt like a lightweight strategy. But I was craving the big guns.
In my meditation app review, one of the meditation apps I tried included a gratitude meditation. As part of the guided series, the instructor said to think of three things I was grateful for. As much as I resisted at first, I finally decided to give it a shot. For the sake of this review’s quality assurance, right?
And no joke, it freaking worked.
I thought of five things that I was grateful for at my dreaded job from my favorite people to how comfy my chair was. When I exited the meditation, I felt totally transformed. I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders and suddenly my job wasn’t a black hole.
I could finally breathe.
Since then, I started incorporating gratitude into my life. I think of things to be grateful for when I’m especially frustrated and stressed. I pause to enjoy my surroundings and the present moment when I can. In my business mastermind, I even made gratitude a part of our standup.
If practicing gratitude could change my life, the most resistant and stubborn individual to the gratitude train, then I know that it can and will change yours, too. Today, we’re talking exactly how an attitude of gratitude will change your life and small steps you can take to get started today.
The Secret to Making Gratitude Work for You
Like I said, I used to think that gratitude was a lightweight strategy. It didn’t feel like it had the robust weight to truly transform my outlook.
But that’s because my approach to gratitude was all wrong. When I thought about “gratitude,” I thought about superficial people saying “ohh I’m so thankful for family and health.” Or “I’m so grateful for my friends and job.”
For me, saying that I appreciate family, friends, health, and roof over my head is too factual. Of course I appreciate and am grateful for all these. How could I not be?
The problem with using vague and general gratitude foci is that they’re too factual to stimulate an emotional reaction. The degree of emotional stimulation you get from saying
“I’m grateful for having enough food to eat”
“I’m grateful for the deliciously juicy and perfectly ripe pear that I ate today”
are totally different. We’re used to saying that we’re grateful for the general things, the things that we’re used to, and the things that we, well, take for granted.
But being grateful for a specific moment or piece of your day? That stimulates your memory, senses, and emotions.
No, I’m not saying that we’re ungrateful for anything of these general things (food, water, shelter, toilets). In fact, we are the most grateful for them because they’re our standard of living.
But we don’t notice them until they’re gone. And you can’t build a new perspective and a positive outlook by thinking about how bad your life would be otherwise.
So, the key to having gratitude truly transform your perspective is to get granular. Think of things that have happened within the past 24 hours that you’re grateful for or specific qualities in a person or thing. The more specific and illustrative, the more you get to relive that happiness and shift your focus.
How to Make Gratitude a Part of Your Daily Life
The first technique that introduced me to gratitude was through meditation. For my meditation app review, one of the apps showed me how to practice gratitude in my meditation.
Full disclosure, the app itself was my least favorite of the bunch (read exactly why here). BUT, I did learn a valuable tactic that I’m happily taking into the future.
During your meditation practice, make part of that meditation thinking of 3-5 things you’re grateful for. As I said before, make these as specific and granular as possible.
For example, I’m grateful for
The squeak Roger gave me when I came home yesterday
The huge influx of gratitude comments in my community
My Wednesday afternoon cube share with my supportive, helpful, and fantastic co-worker Vanessa
The fact that Jeramia is totally used to and accepting of me constantly changing my mind (sweet, patient man)
Action Item: Write out three things in the past 24 hours that you’re grateful for.
MAKE A POINT TO SAY THANK YOU
Now, we can sit with ourselves all day and think of how much we love and appreciate those around us. But how often do you think they hear it? I don’t know about you, but nothing transforms my day like hearing encouraging words from someone else.
So not only do we want to think of those specific things about our favorite people that makes us love them, but we want to share them as well! My favorite method is in an actual mailed letter (when was the last time you got something that wasn’t a bill or an advertisement?). But you can always write a nice email or send a cute text.
If you’re anything like my fiancé, Jeramia, you’re always waiting for the perfect moment. Maybe just the right timing or with the most poetic/significant date to show your grand gesture.
But the truth is, as much as we all want to shower people with affection and love (and feel like that little text just doesn’t do them justice), it’s no good dreaming big dreams if we don’t actually DO anything.
There’s no better time than today to tell someone you appreciate them (and exactly WHY) because you never know what kind of day they’re having. The smallest gesture could bring the biggest change.
Action Item: Text one person today to say you appreciate them with one specific reason why.
PRACTICE WITH OTHERS
The trick to making any habit truly stick is with the help of others. It worked for my nail biting (thanks, Jeramia!) and it’ll work for gratitude!
If you want to change your life with an attitude of gratitude, you can’t settle for just a one time thing. Having an accountability partner will keep you excited, make sure you don’t skip for the sake of skipping, and you can fuel each other’s gratitude and positive attitudes.
Pick a buddy who’s looking for a positive life change, share this article with them (of course!), and spark your change with an attitude of gratitude...together.
Action Item: Set a joint calendar event with a friend on Friday to text each other 3 things from the week that you’re grateful for.