The “more success + more money = happiness” equation never adds up, no matter how you stack your figures. In fact, the means to a happier life has nothing to do with how much you have. Rather, it is using gratitude to turn what you already have into an abundance. This theory is legit, too, because Harvard said so. I began injecting more gratitude into my life during a time where my days were very repetitive and running through the motions was exhausting. As a result of striving for gratitude, I began to notice small, delightful moments. If I took the time to notice just one of these moments, I found that other delightful moments came along more frequently. Once I stopped rushing through life, my days became more fulfilling and less hectic. If this sounds like something you need for your life, take one (or all!) of these tangible actions daily to cultivate gratitude.
1. Start a gratitude journal
Keeping a record of what brightens your day and adds value to your life is a great way to bring gratitude to your mind. Before bed, write down at least three specific things for which you were grateful during that day. They can be as small as a good latte, sunny weather, or an insightful conversation with a friend. You can record them in a paper journal or keep a running tab of your gratitudes on your phone. Date your entries as you go, and when you are having a bad day, review your journal. This will remind you of just how much you have to be grateful for, and that a bad day does not define your identity or your life.
2. Be grateful from the get-go
Treating each day as a blessing, instead of a burden, will help you become happier. As soon as your alarm goes off in the morning, remind yourself to be grateful for waking up by labeling your alarm “be grateful!” or by putting a note by your bed. Try not to focus on how much you have to do, but rather how you get to experience life and see your co-workers, family, and friends for another day. Being alive is literally a miracle — even on the worst day!
3. Thank someone
Be intentional about thanking those around you. Look your barista in the eye and give a genuine thanks as they hand you your coffee. Write a thank you note to a co-worker who helped you with a project. Send a friend or family member a text just thanking them for being there for you when you needed it. Even thinking about someone you are grateful for will make a difference! By being deliberately appreciative of the people in your life, your relationships with them will thrive.
4. Shift your lens
The next time you are faced with a hardship, ask yourself what you will learn from the situation. Consider what you will be grateful for, disregarding emotion, when you look back on this time in your life. Anything that comes your way can be used as an opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself. It may help you to get your thoughts out on paper in your gratitude journal. Whatever you write does not have to be perfect or publishing-worthy, it is simply a therapeutic practice to turn your perspective around.
Take some time in stillness and silence to recognize your blessings. Be aware of your body and thank it for how it carries you through life and fights to keep you well. Be grateful for yourself, too, using some affirmations from our list. Think of specific reasons you are proud of yourself and repeat them internally. Consider especially how strong you are to have endured your battles and turned your pain into triumph. Be very grateful for that.
You are strong, you are deserving of joy, and you have so much to be grateful for.