When was the last time you paused to reflect on your relationships and express gratitude for the things in your life? Taking time to do this can be considered a form of mindfulness and if done regularly, it can have a range of positive benefits on your life.
While we should try to be grateful for the people and positive circumstances in our life as much as possible, it’s only natural to sometimes get caught up in the daily grind and forget to reflect on what adds value to our life. By understanding how to express gratitude in small ways, though, you can make big positive changes to your overall outlook and even that of others.
It’s amazing how quickly one negative comment or thought can slide into negative thinking patterns and mindsets. Try to avoid this by recognizing when you are having negative thoughts. It may be hard to begin with but, just like anything, the more you practice positive self-talk, the easier it will become.
For example, do you sometimes look at yourself in the mirror and become critical? Next time you notice yourself doing this, stop and consciously re-direct your attention to something you love about yourself!
Try to be grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t. Sure, there might be aspects of life that are undesirable or difficult. However, there will always be some positives that you can reflect on no matter how small they may be.
For example, when you find yourself fixating on the negatives or how far you feel you have to go with a goal, take a moment to change your focus. Instead think about how far you have come, what you are capable of and what you have in your life right now.
There are so many benefits that can come from writing in a journal every night. Expressing gratitude in this way is a great mindfulness activity that you can participate in and it doesn’t have to take more than five minutes.
For example, simply jot down a few things each day that you are grateful for. Maybe it was that you fit in a good workout or had a pleasant experience at work. Whatever it is, by documenting it you are training your mind to see the good in every day.
Every morning, think of three things that you are thankful for. As mentioned above, this is a really good mindfulness tool that you can use to help you change your mindset in the long-term. The science behind this one is similar to the gratitude journal suggestion stated above. The belief is that by focusing more on what you do have in life, you are more likely to regularly see the good rather than becoming fixated on negatives.
If you’ve been wondering how to express gratitude to others, smiling is probably one of the easiest things you can do. Whether it’s a loved one at home or someone you walk past on your street, making eye contact and smiling at someone shows that you are connected in the present moment and engaging with others. It can be such a simple gesture but one that can totally transform a day.
Think about a time when a complete stranger did something nice for you. Perhaps they greeted you as you walked past them on your morning walk, maybe they let you in front of them in the grocery line or picked something up for you that you dropped on the street. Think about how that situation made you feel. Do the same thing for others. Pay it forward and try to do one nice thing for a stranger, no matter how small it may be.
If you think about it, you’ll probably notice that quite often the compliments we give people are physical. How often do we compliment one another for something that isn’t? Next time you’re hanging out with a friend or loved one, try to recognize a trait in them that you admire and let them know about it. There is so much more value in commenting on a person’s kindness or compassion, rather than their shoes or activewear.
Put that phone away. How many times have you seen people out for dinner together, only to notice they are glued to their phones and not engaging in discussion? This has become a poor habit for so many of us. Putting your phone away and remaining present with the people around you is a subtle way of expressing your appreciation for them and showing them that you value their presence. Do you feel like you rely on technology too much? A digital detox is a great way to take a break from your phone and make the most of your surroundings.
An easy way to do this is to simply listen when others talk. It can feel pretty awful to be asked a question by someone close to you, only to have them become distracted or disinterested once you start responding. This can be a hurtful experience, especially when the topic being discussed is something that is important to you. When you are surrounding yourself with people who are important to you, make sure to be fully there. In doing so, you’re showing them that you’re thankful for their presence and giving them the respect they deserve.
When thinking about how to express gratitude in your life, this one is so simple that it could be easy to overlook. Simply telling someone, “I am thankful for you” or “I love you” is so important. There is no more effective way to spread positivity and gratitude.
It’s important that we never underestimate the impact that a little kindness and compassion can have on others, as well as ourselves. By trying to see the good in your daily life or relationships and expressing this, you are putting forward an energy of gratitude and appreciation.