Practicing gratitude is rewarding and positive with many great benefits in our daily lives. There are many different ways to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Little things can get you started-like smiling!
An attitude of gratitude involves the practice of gratitude to reap benefits like positivity, more happiness, less stress, and improved relationships. We can cultivate an attitude of gratitude through several small practices like smiling, thanking others, and appreciating nature. This benefits us and others.
Where do you choose to focus your attention-the negatives or the positives in life and events? Can you see where there could be positive consequences from negative events?
What Is an Attitude of Gratitude?
To begin with, gratitude is the act of being thankful towards others and returning kindness. When you practice gratitude, you’re thanking others for support and good deeds with actions rather than just words. An attitude of gratitude means you have adopted a lifestyle of being thankful and kind in general, and it’s your mindset. It’s incorporated in every aspect of your life.
An attitude of gratitude is a perspective of being thankful for what one has and where they have come from. It involves recognizing and appreciating the aspect of life, both big and small, that make us who we are. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can increase happiness which in turn can embrace both physical and mental health and acceptance of ourselves.
Benefits of an Attitude of Gratitude
When you adopt an attitude of gratitude, you tend to have a more positive attitude. This can lead to better health as well as better skills when it comes to dealing with adversity. Other benefits of an attitude of gratitude include the following:
- Empathy for others
- Less aggression (if any!)
- Less stress
- Better mental health
- Productivity increases
- Improved self-esteem
This attitude can also be contagious and it can help others be happier and positive! When you set the example of this, you greatly influence others.
Examples of Attitude of Gratitude
- You had to sit in the school parking lot and wait to pick up your kids while the traffic cleared. You’re grateful the police were there directing traffic, your children are healthy, and the rain had cleared to reveal a beautiful afternoon.
- Your partner irritates you with their throat clearing and nose blowing. But they’re home with you making dinner, taking care of the animals, and bringing you whatever you need while you work from home.
- Your dogs make so much noise clicking on the laminate floors, they shed everywhere, and bark at thunderstorms. But they greet you at the door when you get home, round on you frequently, and give you unconditional love.
- Your home requires frequent vacuuming, has a bug problem, and occasionally experiences power outages. But it’s in a quiet neighborhood, close to schools, close to work, and you feel safe and comfortable.
How to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is not as difficult as you might think. It does, however, require some work on changing your mindset. Here are some steps to help get you started:
- Smile. Did you know it only takes about 26 muscles to smile and over 60 to frown? That right there should tell you it takes less effort to smile! There’s plenty to smile about-you woke up this morning, your children are healthy, there are no fires in your house, and there’s quite a bit to be grateful for. Besides, when you smile you cause others to smile back!
- Make a habit to thank others. Even for the smallest things. Your neighbor waved to you this morning? Say thank you. Another driver gave you the right of way? Wave at them. Your teenager put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher? Thank them! Watch their expressions when you do this-I’d be willing to bet money their face lights up a bit each time. Now doesn’t that feel great?
- Soak in the beauty around you. The blooming roses in your garden, the rainbow after the storm, your child cleaned up their room, your child, there’s so much! Appreciate nature and things you’ve created, share them with others, and enjoy it all.
- Commit random acts of kindness. Bring your neighbor’s trash can in off the street. Give your office mate their mail. Pay for a stranger’s coffee. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. There’s really no limit to the kind things you can do for others. You may not see the results of these acts, but it can improve someone’s day and they may even pay it forward.
- Journal. Write down everything you’re grateful for. Record positive thoughts and feelings. Consider what you’ve achieved up to now and write it down. Commit to writing these things down weekly, then periodically look back on previous entries. Especially when you’re feeling down or need a refresher on the wonderful things in your life.
Here is an uplifting and insightful video helps demonstrate the value of gratitude:
Does Gratitude Really Work?
Gratitude absolutely works for many reasons. It changes your mindset. It makes you a more positive person. It decreases your stress levels. Does it always work perfectly, 100% of the time? No. There are some pitfalls to avoid when practicing an attitude of gratitude.
- For one, don’t overdo it. Try the less is more approach rather than setting your goals too high, only to make them unachievable.
- Don’t avoid problems in your life while focusing on gratitude. Some things need to be resolved, even with a less-than-positive approach.
- Don’t ignore your own accomplishments while celebrating others. You worked hard to get to where you are. Don’t forget that while practicing gratitude for those that helped you!
- Gratitude and holding things in a positive light can change your outlook, make you happier, and can even help others around you. There are even studies to show the effects of gratitude on several different categories-take a look!
Don’t avoid problems in your life while focusing on gratitude.
Academic Studies Related to an Attitude of Gratitude
1. Taking care of business? Grateful processing of unpleasant memories – Watkins, P., Cruz, L., Holben, H., and Kolts, R. (2007).
Researchers had participants write in one of three topics-neutral, unpleasant, or positive consequences from an event-and studied the effects on closure to unpleasant memories. They found those who wrote about positive consequences, therefore gratefulness, experienced better closure and less emotional impact than participants who wrote in neutral and unpleasant writing conditions. Cilck here to view the research.
2. Using gratitude to promote positive change: A series of meta-analyses investigating the effectiveness of gratitude interventions – Dickens, L. (2017).
The author performed a meta-analysis of 38 studies that looked at gratitude versus negative interventions. Results showed gratitude has a positive effect on several outcomes like happiness, but some unique benefits have been exaggerated in some literature. Click here to view the research.
3. A changed perspective: How gratitude can affect sense of coherence through positive reframing – Lambert, N., Graham, S., Fincham, F., and Stillman, T. (2009)
Researchers found a positive correlation between gratitude and higher levels of coherence beyond satisfaction with life, happiness, and even affect. Click here to view the research.
Examples of Gratitude – From Real People
I asked 5 family and friends what top 4 things they can be grateful for on a daily basis to help practice an attitude of gratitude. Here is what they shared and what I learned:
|What To Be Grateful For||# of Family and Friends|
|Personal safety/safety of family and friends||3|
|Family and neighbors||3|
|Ability to work from home||4|
|Health (self, family members, etc.)||4|
|Home (location, accessibility, etc.)||3|
|Time (free time, time with others, etc.)||2|
- Benefits Of Gratitude – Fewer Things and More Fulfillment
- Gratitude List – A Clever Technique for Meaningful Happiness
- Being Content – My Methods to an Easier and Happier Life
- Appreciate What You Have – My Experiences with Gratitude
- Gratitude Meditation – Successful Ways to Reflect and Grow
- How To Practice Gratitude – Steps for Powerful Perspective
Our daily lives can be hectic, overscheduled, crowded, and exhausting. OR they can be busy, productive, filled with people we love, and help us sleep at night feeling good about what we’ve accomplished and who we’ve had the gift of spending time with.
An attitude of gratitude can turn everything around and help you see things so much more positively. It takes practice, but it can change your life and even help you change others’ lives. What are you grateful for?