How To Practice Gratitude No Matter Your Circumstances
With the USA celebrating Thanksgiving this week, the focus shifts to giving thanks for all that you have. Focusing on everything good in your life helps increase your feelings of peace and happiness, but you may struggle with how to practice gratitude. It may even be difficult for you to find something to be grateful for if you’re going through a difficult time.
No matter where you are in the world, we are living in an interesting time. The news cycle is obsessed with doom and gloom. There are always events and issues that can keep you outraged about something. In times of uncertainty, it is most important to remain grounded and centered within yourself, and practicing gratitude will support you in doing so.
When you’re single it may feel extra difficult to practice gratitude. It’s up to you to manage your feeling state without being buoyed by a significant other. Utilize the magic of the holiday season to brush up on or create a practice of gratitude. The season of winter itself is by design a time for introspection and going within. (If you’re reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, please continue and perhaps bookmark it if you’re running off to the beach.)
Other than sharing the things you are grateful for with those you love, what does a practice of gratitude really look like?
The Benefits Of A Daily Gratitude Practice
Feeling grateful for your life and the people in it is key to living a happy and fulfilling life. Focusing on gratitude instantly changes your mood and shifts your perspective about your circumstances. It also connects you to heart and to all the love in your life in its many forms.
Some benefits of a gratitude practice include:
- Building self-worth and self-esteem
- Getting more enjoyment out of life
- Helping you cope with the stress of life
- Encouraging you to reach out to help others
- Making relationships stronger and helping build new ones
- Decreasing the desire to compare yourself to others
- Preventing you from taking the good in your life for granted
- Generally feeling more positive about your life and your circumstances
With all of these benefits, you’d think everyone would be practicing gratitude as often as they can. But what does a practice of gratitude look like? What does it really mean?
We’d love to share a few of our regular gratitude practices so that you can develop your own and cultivate the benefits in your own life.
How To Practice Gratitude No Matter Your Circumstances
Every night right before we go to sleep, we each share 5 things we are grateful for from the day. We speak them out loud to each other, and we save one another for the last item on the list – like the grand finale. (We do this even on the rare days we’ve had a conflict.)
This practice started long before knowing each other and began by writing down 5 things in a Gratitude Journal every single night. Pro Tip: Writing down your 5 things each night offers you the opportunity to refer back to your journal on difficult days.
It is important that this practice is done right before going to bed as you will take these suggestions into your sleep, your dreams, and integrate a feeling of gratitude into your subconscious mind. You can keep your journal book on your pillow to remind you to write in it before you switch off the light for the night.
The list can be different every night, or you can repeat some or all of the items, it is really up to you. You don’t even have to limit your list to just 5 things – we suggest 5 as the minimum, and you can add as many things to the list as you desire. Feel free to focus on people, objects, your pets, events, your car, home, or clients… whatever you want to put on the list. The key is to do it nightly and right before going to sleep.
Some of the things on your list can come right out of your To-Do List such as: Clean clothes if you’ve done the laundry, or a yummy meal you cooked for yourself.
Knowing how to practice gratitude daily adds up over time. Creating a ritual and cultivating an attitude of gratitude creates an exponential change over time.
Our Annual Thanksgiving Practice
Because every night we focus on all the good in our lives, we do something a little differently for our annual Thanksgiving tradition. While we do give thanks for all the abundance in our life: our family, our friends, our clients, etc. We also take time to appreciate everything that has gone wrong, and all the bad decisions we’ve made.
This may seem a little strange but stick with us here and please continue reading as you may have an Ah-Ha Moment that will change your life for the better.
Most people don’t change or grow when they are happy. The good times are their own reward. Human beings change and grow through struggles and challenges.
Like a butterfly that struggles to fight its way out of the cocoon at the end of its metamorphosis, it is the fight to break free that builds enough strength in its wings so that it can fly. If you were to help the butterfly out, it wouldn’t survive because it won’t have the ability to fly away and live.
Struggles and challenges are important to shaping who you are. Without them, you wouldn’t be motivated to change your life for the better.
Think about the example of the wealthy, spoiled child who has everything handed to her in life. She doesn’t learn to develop the strength of will and character in order to create success and a feeling of accomplishment all her own.
When you are grateful for the difficult times in your life, by putting the focus on who you have to become in order to overcome the challenge, you can turn a crisis into an opportunity.
Another benefit to this practice is that it puts you in the seat of your personal power instead of feeling like a victim. Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good people? We believe the answer is: To make them better!
Are you looking to feel better this holiday season? If yes, here’s a suggestion for you this Thanksgiving week:
Make a list of the challenges and struggles you’ve gone through over the past year. Take time to reflect on each one to see how it has shaped you in a positive way. If you can’t find a positive result gained from the challenge, journal about it. Who would you need to become to release the negative emotions attached to the event and step back into your power?
How to practice gratitude when you’ve experienced a lot of difficulties? Turn your challenges into growth experiences. It is one of the most important and rewarding practices that will serve you for the rest of your life.
Express Your Appreciation
Speaking up and sharing your appreciation expands gratitude out into the world. Acknowledging and appreciating the special people in your life gives you an opportunity to create a deeper connection with others so you don’t feel lonely. It also opens the door for them to reciprocate and speak their gratitude for you.
The wonderful thing about expressing your gratitude is that it has double benefit. You feel better about yourself, increasing your happiness, and the recipient feels their mood brighten too. Shared joy becomes double joy.
You can share your appreciation with a small gift, a card mailed to a friend, a quick note to a family member, or a word of thanks to someone who helped you. You can appreciate someone’s smile on a busy day, or a quick wave from your car when someone lets you merge in front of them.
Cultivating a regular practice of gratitude and appreciation will lessen judgmental and critical feelings. Rather than creating isolation, you open yourself up to connecting with others in a positive way.
How to practice gratitude to spread love to the people around you? Express your appreciation in small or large ways and create a deeper bond with people in your life.
Act As If…
Expressing gratitude for what you desire is a simple way to attract what you want into your life. By doing this, a gratitude practice can be a tool to manifest the things you want.
Another way to say this is, “Fake it until you make it.” However, we don’t want you to really fake anything – instead, cultivate the feelings as if you have what you desire.
By aligning yourself with the feelings you would like to have you step into the role of the creator in your life.
Start by expressing gratitude for what you desire to manifest. It is important to place the desire just outside of your current circumstances.
In other words – you cannot lie to yourself.
Being grateful for a million dollars when you’re living paycheck to paycheck won’t magically bring the money to you. However, if you express gratitude for discovering new ways to make more money, and earning it with less effort, you are opening yourself up to possibility in your mind thus creating new opportunities out in the world.
The same is true for love. Start by expressing gratitude for all the love that exists currently in your life in all its many forms. Then grow to the next step and express gratitude in the direction you would like to create more love.
You can imagine feeling grateful for all the new people you’ll meet through online dating, or by going to a holiday party where you don’t yet know anyone very well.
You can be grateful for things that you are working toward, or that are possible with some planning, opportunity, and luck.
Put some emotion in it, open your arms high and wide with a big smile loudly proclaim, “I am open to receive all my good!”
Your emotional state counts when acting as if, so be sure to do this practice when you really feel it – don’t attempt to fake it.
Acting as if will create within you a sense of possibility and put you back in the seat of your personal power. This practice will allow you to develop a positive outlook and give direction to your subconscious mind to lead you toward your desires.
Please feel free to take these suggestions, tweak them a bit, make them your own, and put some or all of them into a gratitude practice for yourself that you utilize year-round.
We are truly grateful for you’re part of our Creating Love On Purpose® community. Wishing you wealth, health and love this Holiday Season and beyond!
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About the authors
Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.