Before you roll your eyes and say, “Oh God, here she goes,” stay with me. I’ve recently found that practicing gratitude does absolute wonders for your mind and how you feel about yourself and life in general.
When I say ‘practice gratitude’ I don’t mean to find you inner zen or to sit in an uncomfortable cross-legged position and ‘um’ or ‘ah’ for ten minutes. What I mean, is to just practice feeling grateful.
There are many easy ways to do this and once you start to recognize that your mind is teetering off to feelings of ungratefulness, bring it back. The world can be a very depressing place at times, especially today with Brexit, the US Election, Australian fires, climate change, the list goes on.
But try to stay positive because there are things to be positive about, really. Here are five ways to practice being grateful:
1. Think about what you’re grateful for
I mean, this is one is pretty obvious but how many of us actually think about what we have to be grateful for? Most of us take our lives and all that we are able to do for granted and think we will always have everything we need.
Some of us often hear news stories or see things on TV or in every day life and suddenly become thankful that you don’t have someone else’s life or situation. But the whole point of practicing gratitude is that it shouldn’t take seeing something on TV or hearing a horror news story to make you appreciate what you have.
When you wake up in the morning, be grateful that firstly, you woke up and are able to live this new day, that you have your limbs and are able to use them fully, that you can see, that you can hear and that you have a job or education to go to.
Be grateful you’re alive.
2. Look around
As I write this, I’m sat in Pret in the Financial District of New York. I could complain about the guy next to me who’s eating a rather stinking sandwich, or I could roll my eyes at the guy outside the window shouting at the lamppost distracting me, or I could let the girl that cut me in the queue for my coffee annoy me, but I don’t.
Do you know why? Because I’m in Pret in New York. What do I have to complain about? So what the guy likes gherkins on his sandwich, I’m usually stinking out my office with tuna. Plus, if he’s enjoying his sandwich, who am I to judge? He’s living his best life.
The crazy guy outside is just one of millions roaming the streets of New York, but it’s what makes New York, New York and it’s also giving me a reason to look up and out of the window while I’m sat here.
The girl who cut me in the queue? Maybe she had somewhere important to be. Maybe she was an intern working for someone like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, if so, I have no objections to her cutting in front. Plus, because she did so, I got to spin the tray of coffee cups and won a free hot drink, so I was actually grateful she skipped me.
In the grand scheme of things, I don’t let small things like this bother me because when I look around, I’m reminded that I’m in New York City and that this is somehow the place that I now live and work. Not much can make me feel annoyed when that’s the case.
3. How to start practicing gratitude
Ok, so we all have times when we feel grateful. We know that we should appreciate our health, our family, our education and our bank accounts but we don’t actively be grateful on a daily basis, do we?
It usually takes something to trigger us or to see someone else in a worse off position than our own to start feeling grateful about what we have.
An easy way to start practicing gratitude is when you are lying in bed at night before going to sleep. Just before you nod off (put your phone away for a change), lie there and think about what happened you that day.
Maybe you went for a coffee with a friend, you picked up a bargain in a store, you had a long phonecall with your mum or a stranger showed a random act of kindness towards you. Start realizing that you are grateful for these moments, for the kindness of strangers, to be able to talk to your mum thanks to technology (when you live 3,000 miles away like I do) and grateful for the people that you have in your life.
4. Be grateful for tricky situations
One thing I learnt last year was to look at tricky situations with a different mindset. We could all very much look at the bad things that happen us and approach it with the attitude of ‘why me?’ or ‘why do bad things always happen to me and not other people?’ – but what good is that going to do for you?
Instead of feeling down about it or sorry for yourself (this is allowed also, don’t get me wrong) perhaps look at the situation and think, What is this teaching me?
Perhaps you messed up in an interview – think about the experience this has given you. You will know to better prepare for future interviews, be prepared for rogue questions that the interviewer may ask and maybe that job just wasn’t the right one for you.
Maybe you’re facing financial woes – you’ve been hit with an unexpected VAT bill of 500 (I’ve been there), your phone has stopped working and you now need to buy a new one and then arrives a council tax bill of 1,500 (also been there).
Instead of thinking the world is working against you, know that it is teaching you to learn to deal with the unexpected, to make sure you have a lump sum of money set aside for surprises like this or perhaps it will kick your survival instincts into gear and get your priorities in order – you might take some overtime in work, stop buying material items for a while (that you don’t really need) and make some savings in other areas of your life for a while (grocery shopping in Aldi instead of Morrisons for example or just living off Pot Noodles for the foreseeable like I tend to do).
5. Manifest by being grateful
Yes, let’s talk about manifesting. Manifesting is the art of bringing something to yourself or becoming something that you envision. If I really, really want something, I usually do my best to manifest it towards myself.
I know, you might think it sounds stupid and if you haven’t read The Secret yet then you really should to learn more about this. Even when I was applying for a job in New York, I was imagining myself in New York, living there and in the job. And well, here I am.
But another way to manifest, other than imagining yourself in the position that you want to be in, already feel grateful that you have what you want. If you’re a bit confused, what I mean is to imagine the feeling you will have when you finally have what it is you want – that feeling of gratitude.
Many a time I imagined receiving the phonecall that was going to tell me I was moving to New York. I imagined how the call would go, where it would be and how I would feel when I received it. I based it on the time I received the phonecall from Coty to say I had got the placement job. If you already feel grateful for having something that you want, the odds are better that you will actually receive it.
Start manifesting and start being grateful for the amazing things that are in your life and are also yet to come.