Last week we talked about enjoying the little things despite what ever big things you may have going on in your life. Sometimes those little moments that bring a spark of joy will be the foundation that you build on in times of trouble. Today, let us go a step further and talk about gratitude. This can change your attitude and improve your outlook each day.

I do not always have a good attitude, and sadly I am not always grateful. However, I do try to take a step back when the sky feels like it is falling to remind myself that I am blessed beyond anything I could possibly deserve despite the current circumstance. When I talk about this with others, especially those with BIG problems or a devastating diagnosis they ask, “How can I be grateful in this situation?” Let’s explore that.

Gratitude is at its simplest form a feeling of thankfulness and acceptance. It is a positive feeling every time you experience it. While attitude is how you feel about something, good or bad. Both are something you have the the power to choose, but by choosing to be grateful you are automatically improving your attitude on some level. Easier said than done I know. Right now, I am sitting by the beach writing this, so my attitude is soaring high. I am surrounded by beauty, the sounds of the ocean, and by family and close friends. I have so many memories of this location over the years, and I am so grateful I have had these experiences. However it is not so easy to be grateful and have a good attitude when I am stuck in traffic and late for something. There are so many places to be, bills to pay, and did I mention someone in my car is always crying that they have to use the bathroom? Polar opposite experiences. I may not be able to control the latter, but I can control my attitude.

So here are three practical strategies that anyone can use to have more gratitude. Like any other situation, exercising your mind to be more focused, more positive, and more grateful takes a little time and some effort. However, I am confident you can do this.

1. Seek it out. The first thing you can do to develop a more grateful outlook is to seek out the things you should be grateful for. Both big and small, these things, experiences, and even people in your life will help you to have a better state of being. When I say things, I do not necessarily mean material things although they may be. Think beyond the possessions whenever possible and seek this positive attitude and gratitude from the experiences in your life as possessions can certainly come and go. Seek out companionship, activities, and adventures instead to fill your treasure chest of gratitude with first and foremost. Think about those memories that you are grateful for, and breathe them in. Just doing that alone should take even the darkest attitude and lighten it more than a few shades. And besides when we seek something, it is so much easier to find.

2. Write them down. If you seek these things out, remember them or experience them new, write them down everyday. In your day planner, or in a journal it makes no difference. Seek something everyday to be grateful for and write it down. This way you are more likely to remember it because you wrote it down, and you can reference it when things are not going well or when circumstances are overwhelming. It is just like last week when we talked about enjoying those little moments to help you get through the big, bad moments. Now you can be grateful for those little moments more often because you wrote them in your gratitude journal.

3. Be grateful in spite of the situation. I know that one is a little harder. Sometimes when things are dark and nothing seems to be going right, it may be hard to be grateful. When we suffer a disappointment, even harder. However, if we have those other things from the past to be grateful for then it is a little bit easier to be hopeful for the future. Sometimes, not getting what we think we want in the moment can be the better path to something greater in the future. We just have to adjust our attitude in the moment. I think that Garth Brooks said it best when he said “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.” I cannot say that I am grateful for everything that has happened in my life, and sometimes my attitude frankly stinks, but no matter what I am going through I know that I have so many things to be grateful for that if this current whatever does not go my way, it is ok. Something better just may be waiting for me.

So this week, start a gratitude journal and see how much your attitude changes in response to how much gratitude you experience.

Until next week…

Laura

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