The Secret to Success? Be Grateful for What You Have.

What if there was one simple thing that could help us be happier and healthier, build more positive relationships with people around us, and be more successful in everything we attempt?

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, fortunately, the reality is that simple.

All you need is an attitude of gratitude—the mentality of appreciation.

Why is Gratitude Important?

Simply put, gratitude refers to a mindset that focuses on what you already have, rather than on what you don’t have.

From time to time, everyone gets a little overly-focused on what they want. However, if we are too focused on our desires, we’re spending most of our time resenting what we don’t have, rather than appreciating what we do. This can drag us down and result in a pessimistic, defeatist outlook on the world around us.

Maintaining a sense of gratitude, on the other hand, allows us to look around and see the great things we already have. Seeing the world in this way can have several real, positive effects on our day-to-day life, making us feel happier, less stressed, and less worried about day-to-day events.

Being Happier

After a while, we grow accustomed to all the positive things around us each day and begin to take them for granted. When we no longer notice everything good around us, negativity seems to stand out much more.

But, if we take a moment to appreciate all the positivity around us, it serves as a reminder that things really aren’t that bad—we just forget to look for the good in every situation.

Improved Physical and Mental Health

Frustration, anxiety and fear tend to be most overwhelming when we feel trapped, as if there is no way out of a bad situation. With the resulting stress building up and wearing on us over time, these negative emotions are bad for our minds as well as our bodies.

Over time, the stress that takes root in the absence of gratitude causes inflammation, chronic pain, and raises our risk of disease. It also puts us at greater risk of mental illness.

Less Self-Centered

People grounded by a sense of gratitude tend to be more optimistic about themselves and their future. As such, they’re less worried about looking out for themselves and show more concern for others.

Gratitude reminds us that we’re all in this together, and that life isn’t solely a “them or me” matter; in fact, the best way to help oneself is oftentimes to help others.

Better Relations with Friends & Family

Being happier, healthier and less self-centered will allow us to be more empathetic toward others. In turn, this makes others more open and receptive toward us.

Individuals who forge a deeper sense of gratitude can make friends more easily and better-strengthen their existing relationships. This, in turn, creates a feedback loop that makes it easier to find things for which to show gratitude as well.

Techniques for Bringing More Gratitude into Your Daily Life

How will you choose to emphasize gratitude? Listed below are just a few of the many techniques you can use to introduce gratitude into your daily routine and start seeing the world in a more positive light.

1. One-Minute Meditations

Try setting aside a few seconds each morning to sit quietly and contemplate gratitude. Think about all the things you’re grateful for, all the things that other people have done for you, and all the things that make your world a better place.

This is a great way to start off your day, putting you in the right mental and emotional state first thing. When you begin your morning with a positive state of mind, you’re much more likely to carry that happiness and positivity with you all day long.

2. Write a List of Everything You Appreciate

It can be easy to lose sight of all the good things around us when we’re having a bad day. When it seems that nothing is turning out right, try sitting down for a few moments and writing out a list of all the things, people, and privileges you have and appreciate. You don’t have to get too specific; in fact, it might help to think in a general sense. Some examples include:

  • Friends and loved ones
  • Your health
  • The fact that you have reliable food, water, and shelter
  • Educational opportunities

3. Don’t Get Mad

The people around us, including our friends, family, classmates, and strangers will often get on our nerves. Sometimes they do things that make us angry, annoyed, or simply disappointed. In turn, we respond with negativity which is neither constructive nor healing.

Any time you feel the urge to react negatively, whether that’s through an outburst of anger or through a sarcastic insult, try stepping back for a second and taking a deep breath. As you do this, try to think of all the ways in which you are thankful for the person who upset you—think about things they do for you and how they enrich your life. This will help you build more positive relationships with people, and will benefit you most of all by relieving you of any resentment and bitterness you carry in your daily life.

4. When Tragedy Strikes, be Thankful for What You Have

As unpleasant as it is to think about, personal tragedies are an unavoidable part of life. All of us will experience loss and sadness at some point, but what really defines who we are is how we’re able to cope with and rise above that pain.

One thing that really helps in these situations is to balance the grief you have for who or what you’ve lost with a sense of gratitude for what you still have.

In general, we’re more naturally inclined to focus on the negative aspects of life. It will take effort to see through what causes us pain before we can notice and really appreciate everything that still brings us happiness.

5. Say “Thank You”

This seems like a no-brainer. But if you think about it, there’s probably been at least one thing someone did for you in the last day that you did not necessarily show your appreciation.

Remember to thank others any time they do something for you, no matter whether it’s something as simple as holding a door or as mundane as serving your food in the cafeteria. By showing thanks to others, you make them feel appreciated, and when people feel that they’re appreciated and valued, they have reason to show gratitude and kindness to more people.

6. Give Back to the World

Consider showing gratitude for all the things you have by sharing your time and resources with others. You can volunteer to help feed or clothe people in need, serve at an animal shelter, or tutor younger kids who require extra help in school.

Most people find volunteer work to be very gratifying and fulfilling, but more importantly, it keeps us grounded—confronting the needs of our community head-on reminds us just how fortunate we are to have as much as we do.

Strive for an Attitude of Gratitude

Don’t waste time stressing over what can’t be changed or what you don’t have. Instead, begin to appreciate what you do have in life.

What are you most grateful for?


Image by klhug