Practicing Gratitude Can Change Your Attitude
Each new year it seems gratitude ends up on my mind. I like to tell myself that this year I will be a more grateful person. Just like some other New Year’s resolutions, it starts out well and then begins to fade away.
This year I found myself, yet again, wishing I was better at being grateful and wondering why it’s such a challenge to have an attitude of gratitude on a regular basis. What am I missing? Perseverance? Mindset? Not repeating enough grateful mantras/scriptures/quotes?
It’s practice. Practicing gratitude by putting it into action is what I’ve been missing. Gratitude isn’t just one thing. It’s a combination of thinking, speaking, and acting grateful. If we really want to change our attitude then we need to practice gratitude.
Here are some ways to practice gratitude.
Let’s start with our thoughts. Whenever you find yourself thinking ungrateful thoughts, pause and adjust. For example, if you’re looking in the mirror wishing your nose was smaller, remind yourself how valuable your nose is to you because it allows you to smell. If you wake up thinking you wish you didn’t have to work, remind yourself the money it provides to keep you clothed and fed. Whenever you find yourself thinking something negative about a person, place, or thing, find something to be grateful for instead.
I know these are just basic examples, but you know the things you most often complain to yourself about each day. So, just catch yourself and reconstruct that thought. If you think you just can’t find anything to be grateful for, ask yourself, “Am I breathing?” If you’re breathing, then simply start with being grateful to be alive.
The next way we can practice gratitude is with our speech. Take that same concept for grateful thinking and apply it to what you say. Instead of complaining that your husband put something back in the wrong cabinet or drawer, thank him for putting the item away. Instead of complaining to the kids about making a mess with the dog food, thank them for trying to feed the dog themselves.
While we’re on the topic of grateful speaking, let’s also address the “but.” Saying, “Thank you, but…” isn’t fully grateful. I’ve been guilty of this far too many times. “Thanks for doing the dishes honey, but you got water all over the place.” It doesn’t sound all that grateful followed by a “but,” does it? That’s because the “but” negates what comes before it. So, you’re basically undoing the “thank you” when you follow it with “but.” So, let’s be mindful of this as well and simply speak gratitude.
Another way we can practice gratitude is to act grateful. Grateful people don’t huff and puff while standing in line or glare at the cashier for not being quick enough. Acting grateful is not storming away or slamming doors. Acting grateful is being patient and kind. It’s smiling at the struggling cashier. It’s taking a deep breath and helping your child clean up the mess. It’s biting your tongue when your husband tracks mud across the floor with his work boots and being grateful for the work that’s done in them instead.
There are many little ways to practice gratitude daily. This year I’m going to focus on actually practicing gratitude to change my attitude, and I encourage you to try it as well.
Change those thoughts. Mind your words. Show gratitude.