Are you looking for more ease in your life? Do you wish things flowed better? I don’t have a magic solution for you, but I do know a simple tool that, when leveraged, makes life smoother and more pleasant—and it’s free and at your fingertips. How about serving up a bit more gratitude?
We all know that gratitude is a good thing. By gratitude, I’m talking about that deep peaceful sense of appreciation and thankfulness we feel for certain realities and people in our lives. Liberally and authentically applied, gratitude has the ability to work wonders. We don’t just give thanks and gratitude. Our ability to connect with our sense of gratitude has the power to profoundly affect who and how we are in the world.
Here are three ways that gratitude can make your life flow better:
Create more happiness: Taking time out to identify and name the things and people that we are grateful for on a regular basis increases our feelings of well-being and contentment. The simple act of noting three things we are thankful for on a daily basis has been shown to increase feelings of happiness, decrease feelings of depression, and be such a positive experience that subjects in one study continued doing it long after the study was over.
Create more positive relationships: We all love to be appreciated. Expressing our gratitude obviously creates good will—and increases the odds that we’ll see more of the qualities we expressed appreciation for. Expressing genuine gratitude is a way (albeit after the fact) of expressing what we want and need. When we let someone know that we are truly thankful for something they say or do or convey, we are also letting them know something about how they can and do help and support us—and they’ll know that going forward. Expressing gratitude to another is also a mood enhancer. It’s not only kind, it makes us feel good to express gratitude.
Create a mindshift: We tend to see what we are focused on and miss the things we aren’t looking for. Let’s face it. When we are too busy or too stressed, we often get focused on the “un-done,” “the not-working” and the negative aspects of our life. It’s an unpleasant, energy-depleting cycle. We don’t tend to see what we’ve crossed off our to-do list as clearly as we see the things we didn’t get to. Increasing the focus on gratitude shifts our focus. When we start to look more closely for the things that we appreciate, we start to notice more of them. Looking for, noticing, and expressing thankfulness can create a mindshift which leads to an increasingly positive feedback loop of identifying and creating more gratifying experiences.
Here’s a tip about gratitude: leverage it. As you identify what you are thankful for, don’t simply acknowledge it. Find ways to lean into your gratitude. Are you spending enough time with the people who you really truly feel grateful for having in your life? Do you share your appreciation? Are you savoring the things or the qualities of your life that fill you up and leave you thankful? Are you allowing yourself to thoroughly soak up the experiences that make up your “things I am grateful for” list each day? Allowing yourself to be present with your gratitude is one of the most inspiring gifts you can give yourself.