How do I express gratitude?
Gratitude is something that has been proven to improve happiness. It is a practice that is readily encouraged all over the internet and in countless self-help books but how do we do it?
Gratitude is the act of being thankful. When we express gratitude on a regular basis the number of things we are grateful for readily increases. It is one of the quickest and simplest ways to improve your perception and to stop taking life for granted.
When I teach my clients about gratitude I always encourage them to be grateful for 3 things.
· Be grateful for something about yourself (no sarcasm allowed)
· Be grateful for something you have or a situation you’ve experienced
· Be grateful for others in your life
What I have found over the years is that gratitude isn’t as effective when it isn’t specific. I also noticed that individuals are rarely grateful for themselves. This is why I made different categories for individuals to focus on. However when I first started encouraging people to do gratitude on a regular basis I notice that they often write something like this:
· I’m grateful for my health
· I’m grateful for my car
· I’m grateful for my family
While these 3 things are still expressing gratitude it means next to nothing because it doesn’t say WHY you are grateful for these things. Here’s how you could do it better:
· I’m grateful that I am healthy & I don’t even have to think much about how my body works, it just does its job so beautifully without me consciously thinking about it
· I’m grateful that I have a working car so that I can go travelling on weekends
· I’m grateful to have a family that supports and loves me.
When we are more specific suddenly we become far more aware of the things in our life we appreciate and gratitude feels like a worthwhile practice.
The first time I used gratitude with other people on a regular basis was as a first year teacher (now 10 years ago). I was working in a school where many children had broken families or parents who were dependant on drugs and alcohol and cared little for their success. When we first started doing gratitude I remember distinctly how much they whinged and how fickle the responses were. ‘I’m grateful for air’. I really wanted to groan but I knew that giving up wouldn’t work. These kids didn’t realise it but they craved gratitude, especially those who very rarely were ever appreciated by their parents. It took all of 3 weeks (15 minutes in total, 5 minutes per week) for the students to say ‘Miss we MUST do gratitude, I love doing.’ I was so pleased when they had come to appreciate the benefit of pausing to thank what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t. To this day, those students have been the most grateful students I’ve ever encountered that regularly did this practice, they are also the ones that bail me up in the shopping centre for hours for a chat or to meet their children (that makes me feel old!).
This anecdote is important to me because I feel that at times the more privileged we are the more we forget about the importance of being grateful for what we DO have. We must always tavke an opportunity to be grateful for what we have and for who we are, then we can always grow in confidence.
So what should be your gratitude dose?
Minimum 3 gratitude posts per day, 7 days a week.
Just starting out? Try for 3 days a week.
Have a grateful week,
PS: do you already practice gratitude? How has it helped your perception of life and your confidence?