Embracing Gratitude to Enhance Your Life

By: Megan Jones

Gratitude, throughout the past few years it feels like this word is being used exponentially more. I hadn’t heard of World Gratitude Day (which is September 21st) until 2 years ago. There may be a correlation between the word gratitude and the pandemic, with the idea, that even when the world feels bleak there is always a silver lining and something to be grateful for. Although, gratitude, is simple in both definition and practice, it can be difficult to maintain. Today, I want to talk about all things gratitude and how embracing gratitude can enhance your life.

What Is Gratitude?

Gratitude by definition  is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. To show gratitude would be to show your appreciation and token of thanks when something good comes your way. Sounds simple right? However, I personally find it difficult to do when things aren’t perfectly falling into place.

Let’s put things into practice. Take a moment to think of 3-5 things that happened this morning that you can express gratitude for. Then take a moment to think of 3-5 things that didn’t warrant your gratitude. Finally, take a moment to think which came easier, the positive or negative things in your life?

Although I like to think of myself as an optimistic person, it was easier to think of the things that didn’t warrant my gratitude. Now maybe today was a particularly bad morning, however, as much as I want my life to be sunshine and daisies—it isn’t. Therefore, it can be easy to have the negative things on my mind more than the positive.

What are the Barriers to Practicing Gratitude?

Going back to our list, the goods things in your life, may be good because they are completed and more finite, whereas the negative things may require more maintenance.

For example, one thing that allowed me to practice gratitude is my morning cup of coffee. Do you ever have those mornings that you put the perfect amount of creamer, and sugar and have the most delicious cup. For me, it doesn’t happen every morning, however it is something worth appreciating when it does. However, once this perfect cup of coffee is gone, it can be easy to forget how amazing it was in the moment.

Consequently, something that didn’t warrant my gratitude was this morning our power shut off and what I was working on my computer didn’t get saved. Now that took maintenance. I had to stop, find a way to fix the power, and then although I was grateful the power turned back on, I went to my computer and the hard work I had put in, had completely vanished (the true ebbs and flows of life). It took maintenance and priority in my brain. And like the work on my computer, the gratitude for my morning coffee completely vanished. The negativity took precedence, and I like to think I am not alone in this feeling. So how do we go about solving it?

How to Practice Gratitude?

There are a million articles, books, speeches, and TedTalks about gratitude and how to practice it. If you look them up you may feel inspired, however it may slowly fade. Here is my opinion on how to embrace gratitude (realistically) and enhance your life.

Every morning write down 3-5 things that you can express gratitude for. Today I will share mine.

  • As I mentioned, I made the perfect cup of coffee
  • I live in the city, I usually wake up to sirens however this morning, I woke up to birds chirping
  • When I checked my phone, there was not any urgent emails/fires to put out
  • There was not any traffic on my commute to work
  • Although, we lost power, it gave me 10 minutes of breathing, meditation, and quiet away from my incessant email inbox

Now these five things are my reminders throughout the day that no matter what happens today, I have five things to be grateful for. Then when something that doesn’t warrant my gratitude, I can pull out my list and have a moment to be grateful for the things in life that did warrant my gratitude.

Why is Practicing Gratitude Helpful?

Practicing gratitude can alter your mindset on how you view your life and the world. If you stay within the mindset that bad things continue to happen to you, you may not even recognize and appreciate the good things that are happening. Take the time to switch your default and try creating a daily gratitude list, they can be items big or small, however, they can be reminders that even when it rains, there will be a beautiful spring bloom!

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