How to Show Gratitude Every Day
Recognize all the good that happens in a day.
Things go wrong each and every day — there’s no denying that. Maybe your lunch spot was out of your favorite dish. Or you had to deal with difficult customers at work. Or maybe you’re dealing with more serious difficulties that have negative repercussions throughout your day. But instead of thinking back on each day about everything that didn’t go your way, think about all the things that did. Think about the people at work who were nice to you. Think about how you made it safely to and from wherever you went. Celebrate the small things that go right, and you just might turn a bad day into a good one.
Embrace a challenge.
In order to really appreciate the good in our lives, we must be cognizant of the bad, as well, and recognize how the challenges are strengthening us and making the good seem better. Don’t avoid the challenges life brings, and don’t forget about them once they’re past. The lessons learned will always influence the way you live your future.
This piece of advice is so much easier said than done. I try every minute of every day to complain less, but when a bad mood hits and I’m not pleased with something, I’ll still voice my negative thoughts, even if it’s just inside my head. I think it’s always crucial to see a situation as better than an alternative. Delayed flight? Could be worse. Traffic jam? Could be worse. Did someone else get a promotion at work over you? Could be worse. Think about how fortunate you are in so many other ways, and how you are strong enough to handle a small misfortune and know that it humbles us. Begin by attempting to not voice your complaints out loud. Try to make every comment something positively-inflected. Slowly, you’ll be able to quiet that complaining voice in your head until it sees the good in a bad situation.
Eliminate certain words from your vocabulary.
Words like “blame”, “worst" and “hate”. These words are associated with thoughts that distance you from gratitude. It may not be the words I listed, but think of the words you use most often when you complain, and consider them forbidden. Any time you think you’re going to use a word like this in a negative way, try to flip the sentence to shed some positive light instead. No one likes to be around a negative person, so eliminate your negativity and replace it with subtle gratitude.
Plan a small surprise.
I feel often that the days all run together when there’s nothing out of the ordinary happening. When I’m going through the motions day after day, I look back on my week and think of it as nothing special, maybe even a little drab. Break up a boring routine by spicing things up with a little surprise for someone you know. Bring a yummy treat home for the family to enjoy together one evening over a movie. Surprise your coworkers with Starbucks one day. Planning a fun surprise for no reason can give you something to be excited about and can brighten someone else’s day as well.
Do something to lighten someone else’s load.
People do so much for us each and every day. Some of these are people we know and are close with. Others we don’t know, and may not be fully aware they’re even doing things to help us. Maybe your boss has a really loaded schedule and it would be helpful if you take one thing of his or her to-do list that you’re capable of doing. If you live at home (much like I did for a year after college), lighten your mom or dad’s load by cooking everyone dinner one night or doing your own laundry. Or, if you go somewhere fast-casual to eat, make sure to clean up your table of crumbs and trash and push your chairs in. If you can spare the time, lend a hand to help someone else, and it will always be appreciated.
Always be polite.
Similar to the “don’t complain” rule, be sure to not let your mood or circumstances affect how you treat other people. Sure, we get stuck in some lousy situations where it seems like the person you’re interacting with is to blame, but most often, they aren’t the ones responsible for the misfortune being brought upon you. If the ice cream machine at McDonald’s is broken, don’t take it out on the cashier. Don’t treat your family poorly because of something that went wrong that day at work. Always be sure to put the person before the circumstance and it will guarantee the situation can only get better.
Seems obvious, but say “thank you.”
No matter the situation, if someone has done something for you, always say thank you. Thank the barista that gives you your coffee, thank the bus boy who refills your water, thank your parents for helping you reach your goals, and thank your coworkers for anything they help you with at work. There’s never an excuse to skip saying thank you. And the more accustomed you grow to thanking people for what they do, the more you’ll realize you really are grateful for everything others do for you.