When Thanksgiving and the holidays roll around, thankfulness and gratitude tend to shoot to the top of our to-do lists. We’re reminded to be thankful, to help others, and to tell our loved ones how much we appreciate them. But what about the rest of the year? What would happen if we had an attitude of gratitude all year long?
It’s not always easy to actively express gratitude in our everyday lives, especially when we get busy, are bogged down with a mile-long to-do list, or things aren’t going well. We may occasionally express feelings of gratitude or understand the power of positivity in theory, but actively practicing gratitude is totally different.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude every day can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life. It has the power to radically change your life—and we’re going to tell you how.
Why Is Gratitude So Powerful?
Gratitude changes your mindset, which can, in turn, change how you feel about everything. It can positively impact your relationships, mental health, physical health, and more.
An article on NPR cited several studies linking the practice of gratitude to better sleep, lower stress, improving relationships, decreasing materialism, and even healthier eating.
Gratitude can also be a vital component of our mental health. Consider these findings from a study conducted at Berkeley that evaluated the power of gratitude for students seeking mental health care:
Compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. In fact, it seems, practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief.
Make Expressing Gratitude a Habit
Ideally, gratitude should be an active practice. We all have fleeting moments of gratitude in the day—thanking someone for holding the door open, your partner for taking out the trash, or at the end of a phone call. But the real power of gratitude happens when we practice it knowingly and intentionally. Or, in other words, when we make it a habit.
At Health Coach Institute, one of the main components of our Become a Health Coach program is Habit Change.
We are creatures of habit. According to this Harvard Business Review article, 40-45% of our behavior occurs out of habit, either unconsciously or in reaction to external demands. Since we are creatures of habit, then it follows that if we can change our habits, then we can change the very things that determine how happy and healthy we are.
Habits are the little things we do every day, like getting up at the same time, always leaving your shoes in the same spot, getting a little caffeine “pick me up” at 2pm every day, etc. No matter what they are, our habits are either health promoting or health destroying.
In order to create healthy habits, we teach coaches to help clients bridge what they know they should do, with a way to actually do it, every single day.
Changing habits isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. And implementing a gratitude practice in your life is no different. Below you’ll find our best tips and tricks for making gratitude a daily habit that will change your life!
How to Make Your Attitude of Gratitude Second Nature
Here are several ways to create an attitude of gratitude, that you can incorporate into your life on the daily.
- Start each day with gratitude. Each morning when you wake up, write down 5-10 things you’re grateful for. It can be small (cream in my coffee!) or large (my kids!), just list out the wonderful things having a positive impact in your life.
- Every day, tell the people you love most why you love them and why they’re important to you.
- If you start to feel like you’re not doing enough or are failing in some way, write down a list of accomplishments from the past week. Again, it can be small (got caught up with laundry!) or big (talked to the boss about taking on that big project!).
- Shift your focus during the day. We all have negative thoughts. When they pop up during the day, force yourself to replace them with something you’re grateful for. Ugh, I ate that second cupcake! becomes I’m thankful for cupcakes and the opportunity to share them with my kids!
- Don’t compare yourself to others. We’ve all heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and it’s so true. Comparing your life to others’ isn’t fair to you and serves no purpose other than to make you feel less than happy about your own life. Again, it’s about shifting your thoughts throughout the day. If you find yourself thinking I wish I could look as good in that outfit as her, tell yourself, I really rocked that presentation today!
- Give back. Helping others is a sure-fire way to brighten your mood and make you grateful for your own capabilities. Try every day to do something nice for someone—buy a stranger’s coffee, help a busy mom with her groceries, or complete one of your partner’s regular “chores.” It doesn’t have to be something big or that requires a lot of money, just do a small thing every day to help someone else.
We guarantee if you start doing these things everyday, you will begin to see amazing changes in your life. After a while, take some time to notice how gratitude makes you feel. Do you feel better when you start each day with gratitude? Are you able to more easily shift your mindset away from everything that’s wrong and instead focus on what’s gone right?
If you’re ready to learn more about Habit Change Coaching, the Become a Health Coach program, and the exciting opportunities that await you as a Health Coach, contact one of our Clarity Coaches today. They’ll answer your questions and help you get clear on your next steps. Click the button below to schedule an appointment!