I wish I had heard of living a life of gratitude years ago. I would have taught my children about gratitude Day One. It’s so much easier to be positive from the beginning than it is to learn how to be positive when you’ve been living in a negative mindset for years. Trust me.
I’ve lived it both ways, guys. I’ve let negativity run my life and I’ve let positivity run my life. I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you which one gave me a better quality of life.
How to Live Gratefully
Living a life of gratitude takes some work in the beginning. You need to get into the habit of doing it. You need to write it down, reflect and really feel your gratitude practice. It takes time to create habits and sometimes, it’s easier to give in and stop doing it than to keep showing up for yourself every day.
I’ve fallen off the “gratitude wagon” in the past and paid the price for it. Just like when you fall off the “workout wagon”, it becomes harder to start over again. There’s a reason why we fall off the wagon with this stuff.
Negativity is easier to hold onto. Anger and sadness are more powerful than happiness and gratitude. So, for most of us (notice I said us), we must work harder to be positive. We must work harder at living a life of gratitude.
I’ve learned a thing or two over the years that have helped me live a grateful life:
- Sometimes life gives us moments that make it hard to be grateful. This is when we work harder.
- Routines create habits.
Let’s start with the first one.
Gratitude is Hard Work
We all have different points in our lives when we must try harder to be grateful. Sometimes, it’s puberty. Maybe it’s high school. It could be postpartum depression. Sometimes it’s midlife issues. Sometimes, it’s just plain being overwhelmed with life and you’re not sure what to do next. In these tough moments, it’s harder to be grateful than it is to feel bad for ourselves or to let negativity take over.
When we recognize the moments that we need to work harder, it gives us an opportunity to get to where we want to be sooner – some of the best work is done in the most difficult moments. Just like working your muscles, you need to work your brain too and just like your muscles, your brain changes the most when it’s challenged.
Now, onto habits.
Building Grateful Habits
This is where daily work comes in. I know, but you must do the work if you want the results! Establishing a routine will help you create a habit. In the beginning, I was inconsistent with my gratitude journaling and it’s because I didn’t have a routine in place. I’m a goal setter in my businesses and other areas of my life and it’s served me well, but I wasn’t applying my skills to gratitude journaling.
When to Write
My recommendation is to choose the morning or evening to write in your gratitude journal. I find keeping a consistent time when you write in your journal sets you up for the most success.
I find it most advantageous if you write in the evening. Why? You end your day with gratitude. When you are focusing on what you’re grateful for, your mindset is more relaxed. I find I sleep much better on nights I’m practicing gratitude. It sure beats trying to sleep when you’re angry and pissed off at the world, tossing and turning all night, doesn’t it?
When we get a good night’s sleep we wake up happier and well-rested, which in turn starts our day out in the best frame of mind possible. Now, we can all wake up on the wrong side of the bed every now and then and maybe something shitty happens first thing in the morning. I have found that even when my days are tough, I handle it so much better because I’m starting off on a better foot.
When I was creating this habit, there were days that practicing gratitude wasn’t easy. Let’s be honest, I struggled to think of positive things. I was overthinking it (imagine that) and when I looked closer, there was a lot to be grateful for.
It could be the fresh bread I ate with peanut butter. It could be the smile I received from the friendly cashier at the grocery store that made me smile right back. Don’t overthink it. Don’t think you need to have some huge things to be grateful for every day. The little things are just as important as the big things.
You Can Live a Life of Gratitude
Living a life of gratitude takes practice. It takes reflection. I recommend on the days you are struggling to look over your past journal entries and see all the things in your life you are grateful for. You will see how abundant your life truly is. Once you live a life of gratitude, you won’t want to live it any other way!
Be the change in someone else’s life too – pay it forward. Give a smile to someone who needs it. Compliment a friend or co-worker who seems to be struggling. Little random acts of kindness can make a big impact on others. Maybe they will write about what you’ve done for them in their own gratitude journals!
If you haven’t ordered yourself a gratitude journal yet, please check out my customized gratitude journal in the shop. It will get you on track!
Live life on your terms!