Heads up: This is not yet-another-post about gratitude. The word is overused these days to the point where it doesn’t have much meaning anymore. Hearing someone talk about gratitude can even be upsetting, which isn’t conducive to fostering a healthy mindset at all. Being grateful for everything, means nothing. You need contrast to paint a clearer picture. Without a strong “no”, your “yes” has no real meaning either. Let’s have a closer look at what gratitude could mean, and come up with a more realistic approach to implementing authentic gratitude in your daily life.
A glass half-full?
Gratitude turns what you already have, into enough. It helps shift your mindset from focusing on what’s missing to what you already have, in a positive perspective. The is both realizing the glass is half-full, but also that the other half of the glass is still empty no matter how positive (or negative) you look at it.
Changing the level of energy you have about yourself and your surroundings to notice the good that’s already there, will over time allow more of that positive energy to flow into your life. You can fill up the empty half of the glass by focusing on the part that’s already full, or you can empty the remainder by focusing on the part that’s already empty. You get more of what you focus your energy and attention on, so choose wisely. In a nutshell, that’s the law of attraction at it’s core. Like attracts like. Are you going to fill up the glass, or empty it out?
To me, gratitude is not about about a meaningless exercise of just finding the positive in everything. Doing that is what I call the gratitude trap: you get stuck in neutral, thinking that everything is something to be grateful for. You need the contrast to see what you really want. But once you do, gratitude shifts your thinking into a higher, positive gear, to not get stuck in the status quo either.
Expressing thankfulness and appreciation
To help you uncover the gratitude, here’s six realistic list of tips on how to express thankfulness and appreciation for every part of your life.
1. Finding gratitude may be difficult if you’re addicted to negative thinking. It might seem that everything goes wrong for you all the time. Beginning with saying “Thank You” for all the things that you do have is a great place to start. To have sight, hearing, the ability to walk, to talk, think, are all good reasons to be grateful. If you begin and end each day with gratitude you will start to notice how doing something so easy will have such a powerful impact on your life. Wayne Dyer said “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
2. You can begin by taking responsibility for the way you think. So many thoughts and information pass through our brain each day, that it seems impossible to control it all. Yet even if we start to control some of our thoughts, we will eventually be able to control a lot of our thinking.
3. Don’t postpone your happiness. Ask yourself, how many times have you done this? How many times do you catch saying, “If only this happens, then I’d be happy”. It might be that new house, a new job, a new relationship. If you get caught up in this way of thinking you will never be happy. If you place Happiness on the horizon, you’ll never get there. There will always be more you think you need to complete your life.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others. When we see others buying new things, we feel poor because we cannot afford these luxuries. But in reality we only think we are poor. This state of mind is relative to whom you are comparing yourself to. If you were to change your thinking and look at the homeless, then you would realize how rich you are. You have a roof over your head, and food on the table. Maybe it’s not your dream house. Maybe you are eating peanut butter sandwiches and not caviar. Either way, you have shelter and you’re well fed. And that in itself makes you one of the richest people on this planet.
5. Stop putting down, insulting and complaining about the people around or working under you. Instead, try complementing, praising and appreciating them for all they have done. Be specific, and refer to their contributions to your well-being and achievements. Approach everyone as if they had “appreciate me” written on their forehead. It alters your perspective. You replace negative feelings, thoughts and beliefs with feelings, thoughts and beliefs to the things you are grateful for in that moment, creating a stronger relationship with the people around you. Make a thank you list of all these people you are grateful for. Refer to this list to give yourself a better and greater feeling. We become the average of the 5 people we spend most time with, so reach out to these people often. Give a simple verbal thank you, note of appreciation or even a thank you e-mail.
6. Be appreciative of all your achievements – big and small. Start making a list of everything that you have experienced so far in your life. Celebrate your successes. Ask yourself: when was the last time you rewarded yourself for those achievements? Treat yourself with a simple or extravagant (whichever is appropriate) reward. It’s not the price tag, but the experience that counts. Do something good for yourself today. Celebrate all your past achievements and the future ones going forward.
Limiting gratitude goes hand in hand with limited, success, happiness and freedom. I talk more about overcoming these negative thoughts, emotions and beliefs in my Happiness book, endorsed by Jack Canfield.
Taking action is one of the best antidotes to depression I know. If you’re feeling depressed – take action. Do something that you know can make a difference – because believe me, it does.
“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” ~Seneca