3 Strategies to Becoming More Grateful
The other day, I was talking to a friend, and she asked me, how do I become more grateful?
I know I should be grateful — I’m blessed with a good job, an apartment, friends, family, all that, yet I just don’t feel the gratefulness or the joy of being alive with these blessings in my day to day.
And I always tend to look at the negative and not appreciate the moment.
1) Realize it’s hard
Because you’re circumstance is normalized to you, it’s hard to feel grateful. And you’re brain naturally, just evolutionarily speaking, will tend to focus on all the needs or things you don’t have.
Obviously, back in the day, that was really important for survival. You’re brain had to go through all the worst case scenarios to protect its physical safety.
So, in this sense, it’s like a muscle you have to develop. It’s not like 1 day you say, I’m gonna be more grateful and you’re more grateful.
It’s a muscle you have to develop over time to become more grateful. Becoming more grateful might take a month or two to become like a habit and a part of you.
So, how do you develop the gratefulness muscle?
First, I think define what a good day is for you. If you don’t know what that means for you, how can you reflect on whether it’s been a good day or bad day?
For me, the way I look at a good day is — no family members or friends are sick or dying, I am personally well health wise,
For work days — I exercise in some fashion, I enjoy time watching some content I enjoy, I play a video game, I accomplish something related to Grateful Living, I am mentally well and not over pushing myself. On weekend days — I add you know I’m seeing or talking to friends.
After you define it, I think the main way to develop the muscle is set times for gratitude.
For me, in the morning, some time, whether a minute or 5 minutes, to just sit there and be like I’m grateful for all the blessings I have. Then, at night, I journal and write down at least one thing I was grateful for in the day.
2) Take a step back and look at your life from a 3rd party perspective.
But have perspective of the whole world and where you stand– if you have clean water, you know there’s like 800 million people that don’t have access to clean water globally. If you have shelter, you know that x number of people are homeless.
Again, this is hard. The life you’ve had, you’ve been normalized to that. So it’s hard to often look at the whole picture of the world but you I think all of us focus on the people who have it better than us and never pay attention to the people who have it worse than us. Have a perspective of the whole picture.
And listen, I again I struggle with this too. This past December, as a graduate student at Babson, I had to take Covid tests weekly. And so, you know, I went into hearing that with the attitude of “Ugh, this is annoying”, takes time out of the day, wait in line. Wish Covid wasn’t a thing.
And then a couple weeks into it, my perspective changed — I was like this is the biggest blessing ever. It’ll tell me if I’ve got Covid, which will let me tell people that I interact with if I have it and make sure they don’t get sick.
3) Live life with no expectations and nobody’s definitions
I think a lot of unhappiness and reason people aren’t grateful comes from worrying about fitting into other people’s visions of success.
One major thing I see with people my age is their very self-conscious about being single. Obviously, there’s an intrinsic desire to be in a relationship, but a lot of that desire comes from the outside world — society telling us it’s better to be in a relationship, we need to get married by 30, parents pressure.
If you live life worrying about how you’re living and whether that’s fitting with other people’s definitions of success, it’ll be hard to be happy/grateful.
Try as much as possible to live life on your terms and your definitions.
Those are my 3 strategies to becoming more grateful. Let me know what you think and if you have any feedback!