How to create an attitude of gratitude

How often do you stop and think about all the everyday things you're thankful for? Getting into the habit of being grateful can shape the way you see the world.

Recent studies show that developing an attitude of gratitude can help people to become happier, more optimistic and relaxed, as well as more resilient when things don’t work out the way they’d anticipated. The words ‘think positively’ are thrown about a lot, but the idea – that by doing so you’re more likely to act and feel positive – is a valid one. Recalling things you’re grateful for works in the same way, by giving your mind good things to focus on. It’s a wonderful way to tap into the thoughts, emotions and sensations associated with things and people you love. 


Take it slowly

Begin by taking a little time over the next few days to practise recalling things you’re grateful for, without feeling the need to write them down. This will help you to become familiar with the activity.  Start small – thinking of just one thing could help to change the course of your day. Once you’re comfortable with this you can consider recording these things. Taking the time to capture the objects of your gratitude helps you to connect with the positive emotions they stir and really embed them into your mind.

Make it enjoyable

Once you find your gratitude groove you can progress to writing a list on a daily basis. By making this an enjoyable activity you’re more likely to keep it going. Perhaps use a pretty writing book and nicely coloured pens or pencils to write your list. It doesn’t need to be anything expensive or elaborate, just something that you like.  Connect with the act of writing your list. Writing in the old-fashioned way – using a pen and paper – can help to avoid the digital distractions that are more likely to crop up if using your phone or tablet.

Keep it simple

Aim to write three things each day. Just before bed is a great time to do this because you’re more likely to feel relaxed and less distracted. It’s also a good way to go to bed happy – the perfect lead-up to a night of sweet dreams. It’s often the little things in life that mean a lot, so write whatever comes to mind without questioning whether it’s important enough. Maybe you’re grateful for your super-squishy pillow or some new, fluffy socks. Or perhaps it’s something you’ve experienced, like a friendly cat that came to greet you on your walk to school this morning, or a song you listened to with friends.

It’s personal

The great thing about this is that you don’t even have to share your gratitude with anyone – unless you want to. You don’t need to reveal your thoughts to experience the benefit of writing a gratitude list because this comes from the process of recalling and reflecting. It’s easy to feel shy when saying ‘thank you’ to other people, which can make you less likely to do it, or to hold back. By making this a personal activity you’re able to approach it safe in the knowledge that it will be for your eyes only. Try to let your inhibitions go and write from the heart.

Savour and reflect

Connect with the thoughts, feelings and emotions that arise when you think about these things and let them fill your mind and body. Take the time to appreciate and enjoy these sensations.

Don’t worry about it

Be kind to yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to write your list from time to time. This is a light-hearted and enjoyable activity, not another task to stress about. Perhaps you’re busy with exams, or had a late night out with friends: as the saying goes ‘life gets in the way’ sometimes. You can easily pick up where you left off the next day – it really doesn’t matter. This is about what works for you.

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