Gratitude is the attitude. In my opinion, gratitude can be the missing piece for many people trying to achieve “happiness” or satisfaction with life. A lack of gratitude can look like being quick to anger for minor inconveniences, complaining about the things/people in your life that don’t HAVE to be there in the first place, and/or never taking a second to step back and admire the good things in life.
I’ve learned to practice gratitude through my experiences. I travel quite a bit and get to see the way other people live and interact with the world in other countries (and even other states in the USA). Seeing how content Belizean kids were playing basketball on an unpaved court in Hopkins opened my eyes to what my world COULD look like if I were in their shoes. On the contrary, the strange looks I got while immersed in the homogenous countries of Japan and Iceland made me realize I’m lucky to live in New York and experience different cultures and people at any given moment without giving it a second thought.
I first learned to practice gratitude straddling the worlds of attending an affluent private school for 9 years of my life and coming home after school on the public transit to my not-so-affluent neighborhood and not-so-great school district. It surely has given me a different perspective on things. I saw what my life is, what it could be “at the top,” and what it could be “at the bottom.” After all of these years, I’m much less concerned about what COULD be and more concerned about what IS, right now.
We all need to practice gratitude no matter where we are in life. Things could always be better and things could always be worse. Gratitude is all about focusing on where things are now in the moment, and finding the good in them. Below are four ways I like to practice gratitude that I can do anytime, anywhere. Let’s do this together:
- Recite/write down 3 positive things that happened today: this could be as “small” as eating lunch today or as “big” as acing that exam. Get them out into the world. Write the first three that come to mind on paper, in your journal, in the notes on your phone, or where ever. If more come to your mind, let ‘em flow! I like to do this daily (or when I can remember).
- Recite/write down 3 people who have made you smile recently: no shame if it was a random on the street. It counts. Notice the people around you and the good energy they bring to your world. Appreciate it and soak it all up.
- Turn your “to-do” list into your “get-to-do” list: often, we have a way of thinking that we have to do this or that. You should do your laundry because you get to do your laundry—because that is a privilege that not everyone is afforded. You should go exercise because you can move your body—aren’t you so lucky?!
- Put your phone down and go outside: get outside, look up at the sky, listen to the sounds, people watch (without being creepy). Being present in the moment opens your eyes to the world around you. I’m not kidding. Go do it.
Before you go, what are some other ways you like to practice gratitude? Let me know down in the comments—I’d love to read your ideas!