Developing an attitude of gratitude entails empowering yourself through positivity. In fact, the power of a grateful mind is simply incredible.
There is so much information about how positive it is to develop an attitude of gratitude. However, it does make you wonder how much evidence exists to back up all the talk. I mean, is gratitude really as beneficial as they say it is.
And, how exactly can we create a grateful mind even if we aren’t exactly ‘naturally thankful people.’
Luckily for you, you’re about to find out how to develop an attitude of gratitude and the positive effects it’ll have on your health and personal wellness.
What is gratitude?
The dictionary defines gratitude as a feeling of thankfulness or being grateful.
Often, this can make us assume that gratefulness should be linked to material goods or superficial dismissals of the bad in our lives.
However, to develop an attitude of gratitude is not about ignoring or disregarding negativity completely.
Actually, it’s more about finding the good in everything and learning to appreciate even the smallest things.
To be grateful is to find the silver lining in even the darkest of clouds. It is taking joy in something as simple as having your health.
How to develop an attitude of gratitude
Being grateful is one of the most powerful ways to change your life for the better.
Gratitude has also been referred to as an attitude, emotion, virtue, personality, habit, coping mechanism or a phenomenom (Sanson & Sanson, 2010).
And, the good news is that you don’t have to do anything extravagant to develop and experience the benefits of an attitude of gratitude.
Here are some more practical ways that can help get you develop an attitude of gratitude.
(1) Realize that gratitude is an attitude.
(2) Keep a gratitude journal.
(3) Appreciate the little things.
(4) Be vocal about your gratitude.
(5) Show gratitude by your actions.
(6) Start your day with gratitude.
(7) Avoid comparisons.
(8) Surround yourself with gratitude.
(9) Remember the past.
(10) Gratitude meditation.
(11) Mental subtraction.
“Gratitude is one of the most powerful human emotions. Once expressed, it changes attitude, brightens outlook, and broadens our perspective.” ― Germany Kent
1. Know that gratitude is an attitude
The first step of developing an attitude of gratitude is to realize that gratitude is an attitude.
To do this it’s important to recognize that the things you have don’t matter as much as how you value them.
That means that you can’t stop being grateful on a whim or if you’re having a bad day. Realize that gratitude comes from within.
I’ll admit, some days will be harder than others. That’s why it’s important to use some of the other strategies to keep you motivated.
2. Keep a gratitude journal
In one study, participants were divided into 3 groups. The first group had a journal to write the things that they were grateful for.
The second group wrote down all the negative events and stresses. Finally, the third group needed to document life events that were neutral (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
Which group do you think experienced the most positive effect on their well-being and life satisfaction?
Yes, you guessed it, the gratitude group.
Essentially, a gratitude journal will not only improve your mood but will help you to develop and maintain an attitude of gratitude.
Plus, it’s a great place to keep your gratitude list to constantly remind of all the things that you’re thankful for.
3. Appreciate the little things
If you have been experiencing difficult times, it might be weighing on your mind more than usual.
Therefore, to find a bit of relief, try finding gratitude in some of the simplest things in life.
Whether it’s the taste of your food or the sound of birds chirping on a nice morning, make sure to appreciate these small things.
Additionally, start concentrating on the good traits of others and take some time to think about how they make your life better or easier.
It’s easy to forget how lucky we are just because of some bad news or perhaps our hectic work lives.
But, it’s important to be intentionally grateful – especially in challenging times.
4. Be vocal about your gratitude
Tell someone something they’ve done that made you feel grateful today.
Research shows that thinking about someone for whom you are grateful is a psychological strategy to enhance feelings of gratitude.
Holding your feelings of gratefulness is all well and good. But, sometimes it’s important to share it with others.
Positive energy always flows when you express yourself. So why not try thanking someone for doing something wonderful?
It’s a great way to make others feel appreciated.
Letting others know that you appreciate them will help foster stronger relationships with the people around you.
You’ll also find greater joy in their presence.
5. Show gratitude by your actions
Words are great, but sometimes it’s the actions that say far more than words ever could.
Another way to develop an attitude of gratitude is by helping other people. In fact, this helps you put your worries aside and sincerely appreciate what you have to offer.
So why not spend some time volunteering? Volunteering not only gives you a sense of purpose but also makes you realize how other people would be grateful for the simple things and talents that you may take for granted.
If you can’t spare time to volunteer, look for simple ways to ‘pay it forward.’ Even if it’s a thank you note or sharing a smile with someone who seems down.
Be grateful for everything you have by honoring your relationships responsibly. Develop the habit of proving to others that you appreciate them.
Gratitude is all about going the extra mile in life. In turn, this will do wonders for your mental health.
“The most attractive thing about you should have less to do with your face or body and more to do with your attitude and how you treat people.” ― Germany Kent
6. Start your day with gratitude
You may have heard people say that the way you start your day determines how your day goes. The same applies for developing an attitude of gratitude.
Notably, studies have shown that starting the day with gratitude boosts positivity and brings about more happiness overall. It’s definitely worth a try, so why not thank someone over breakfast tomorrow?
7. Avoid comparisons to develop an attitude of gratitude
An attitude of gratitude means appreciating your journey and accepting that your life is what it is right now.
This allows you to appreciate your current blessings and gives you a clear perception of how important they are. Be mindful and appreciative of the present.
So instead of thinking about all the things you don’t have or your mistakes, try counting your blessings and appreciating all the things you have done right.
8. Surround yourself with gratitude
Quotes, affirmations and surrounding yourself with positive, appreciative persons are other ways to develop and maintain an attitude of gratitude.
Reading over your affirmations each morning helps put things into perspective and stay motivated.
Additionally, listening to motivational songs that you enjoy will also help put things in perspective.
“The more you are grateful for what you have the more you can live fully in the present. When you live in the present moment the greater you can build stepping stones for a brighter future.” ― Dana Arcuri
9. Remember the past to develop an attitude of gratitude
Bring up one thing from your past that makes you feel grateful now. Most importantly, remember what exactly it was that made those moments so special.
Also, try to remember the valuable experiences that you’ve learnt from difficult situations. Consider how they’ve allowed you to appreciate life more.
Next, take some time to count and write your blessings down.
For instance, think of five things or persons every week that you are grateful for. Try to add different things if possible. Make it a habit.
This list will be a powerful resource during challenging times.
10. Try this gratitude meditation
To develop an attitude of gratitude it helps to practice it often. The best way to do that is by engaging in a simple meditation session.
Meditation helps bring about peace within you which can help you be more appreciative.
Additionally, if you are religious, praying about gratitude has also been shown to be very effective.
Here’s how you can practice gratitude meditation
- Take a comfortable position sitting down or lying down, close your eyes and relax
- Start breathing slowly and deeply. Pay attention to the way your breath feels inside your body as it enters and leaves.
- Every time you exhale, repeat the word “gratitude” inside yourself and try to feel all the things for which you’re thankful.
- Repeat this for at least 10 minutes every day until you start feeling a sense of gratitude on its own throughout the day without much effort.
11. Mental subtraction to develop an attitude of gratitude
Have you ever heard of mental subtraction?
Mental subtraction refers to imagining how your life would be if a specific positive event did not occur. This practice is a variation of counting your blessings and will likely reap positive results.
In fact, research shows that reflecting on your death can even cause you to appreciate life more (Greater Good Science Center, 2018).
“I am the master of my mind. I dwell on positive thoughts.” - Lailah Gifty Akita
Why is developing an attitude of gratitude important?
In reality, the benefits of developing an attitude of gratitude are countless.
Gratitude can help you to become happier, more optimistic, improve relationships and even make you feel mentally and physically healthier!
Actually, developing an attitude of gratitude can make all the difference in your life.
It can affect how you feel about yourself, your relationships with others and even the way you perceive situations that come up in everyday life.
By practicing gratitude, you’ll find it easier to focus on what’s good in your life.
That’s pretty incredible for something that is as simple as saying thanks. Isn’t it?
Gratitude helps you appreciate the little things that you might otherwise take for granted. In fact, gratitude can help you embrace and explore life more.
It has also been shown to decrease the quest for materialism.
Notably, gratitude not only helps in improving your life but also makes the society better. People who feel grateful are likely nicer to others and can more easily build strong relationships with the people around them.
The power of developing an attitude of gratitude is also manifested when you are faced with difficult times.
People who feel grateful for what they have are better able to face all kinds of challenges, explore new opportunities, bounce back after failure, and improve their relationships.
The health benefits of developing an attitude of gratitude
Developing an attitude of gratitude can help you fight lifestyle diseases, improve your immune system, reduce stress, and increase the length of your life.
Numerous studies show a positive correlation between gratitude and well-being and life satisfaction (Sansone & Sansone, 2010).
According to research of 119 women, 2 weeks of a gratitude intervention increased well-being, the quality of sleep and optimism and reduction in diastolic blood pressure (Jackowska, 2015).
That’s some amazing benefits in a relatively short time if you ask me!
People who practice gratitude are less depressed and anxious, more energetic and better able to cope with stress. And they actually sleep better too.
One study showed that even in cancer patients, gratitude was positively associated with motivation to engage in research (Sanson & Sanson, 2010).
Developing an attitude of gratitude can lower your blood pressure
People who feel grateful and appreciative have lower blood pressure than those who don’t.
Thus, by practicing gratitude you might be able to reduce the risk of developing heart disease or hypertension later on in life.
Developing an attitude of gratitude can help you sleep better
A lack of sleep can cause many problems such as weight gain and reduced immunity so it is best to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
When you feel grateful and appreciate even the little things in life, it helps bring about a sense of calm and contentment in your mind which in turn helps improve your sleeping patterns.
In fact, research has shown that higher levels of gratitude was directly related to subjective sleep duration and quality (Sanson & Sanson, 2010).
“An attitude of gratitude fills a heart with happiness.”― Debasish Mridha
Developing an attitude of gratitude will help you live longer
Practicing gratitude does not only prevent various lifestyle diseases but also increases your lifespan.
This is because those who feel grateful have been found to have a better immune system, reduced stress levels and be generally happier about life.
It’s important to remember that being grateful doesn’t mean that you should feel bad for wanting more from life or feel guilty for being unhappy.
Instead, you should be grateful because your current situation isn’t as bad as it could be.
Are there any disadvantages of an attitude of gratitude?
Unfortunately, there are some instances that gratitude may not be as advantageous as we’d expect.
For instance, some persons may become frustrated if they are constantly forced to express gratitude especially with their situation is less than ideal.
Another study showed that more grateful individuals may be more likely to remain in toxic relationships than those that are less grateful.
Additionally, regarding situations of injustice and harm, an attitude of gratitude may even seem immoral.
Final words on developing an attitude of gratitude
We all have a lot to be grateful for in the world. In order to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, it’s important that we actively make space and time for our thoughts about what we appreciate in life.
This can take many different forms, from simple contemplation during your day-to-day routines or setting aside a designated hour each week where you journal about things going well in your life.
It is also important not only to think about what makes us happy but also why this happiness occurs—we must understand how these positive emotions are created if we want them more often.
With practice, developing an attitude of gratitude becomes easier especially once you start feeling happier on a regular basis by recognizing even small moments that bring joy.
Which of these strategies do you plan on implementing? Let me know in the comments below.
Read also: 23 tips to control negative emotions
What are the benefits of remaining calm?
In today’s fast-paced world, being calm is a rare quality. But it’s one that will help you enjoy a more fulfilling life.
Chances are your mind races with thoughts throughout the day. You may feel like you’re always behind or have to push yourself harder to get everything done on time. Or maybe even both.
The good news is there are concrete steps you can take to remain calm in these situations and achieve success without sacrificing your health or happiness along the way.
Why are positive emotions important?
Positive emotions are important for our physical and mental health.
When we experience positive emotions, it can improve the quality of our lives by increasing resilience to stressors and improving immune function.
It’s crucial that we work on cultivating healthy habits that promote more positivity in our lives
Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Feb;84(2):377-89.
Greater Good Science Center (2018) The Science of Gratitude.
Jackowska M, Brown J, Ronaldson A, Steptoe A. The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep. J Health Psychol. 2016 Oct;21(10):2207-17.
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and well being: the benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 7(11), 18–22