Feeling Grateful Is a Skill!
It’s true that some people have a naturally grateful disposition. But be assured that feeling grateful is a skill that we can cultivate with practice, and benefit from its rewards along the way. And research also suggests that thinking hard about our own lives makes us more grateful for what we have and sometimes tend to take for granted.
Tips for Gratitude Development
So how do we cultivate gratitude? Here are some tips that can help you develop grateful feelings and an attitude of gratitude:
Three Good Things
One way to recognize positive events in your life is to pause and reflect on three good things that happened during your day – and write them down. Research studies* have noted some impressive benefits to the simple task of writing down the things for which we are grateful – benefits such as better sleep, fewer episodes of illness, and more happiness. These daily “three good things” can then become your gratitude journal.
When we record the things for which we are grateful in a gratitude journal, the habit of noticing positive events helps cultivate gratitude into our repertoire of skills. This noticing activity then becomes a conscious effort and motivates you to notice more – thus helping you to develop the skill of feeling grateful and cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Focus on Intentions
When you receive a gift, or when something good happens to you, consider how someone tried on purpose to bring that goodness into your life, even at some cost to themselves. This focus will help you along the way toward better appreciating others and cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
Write a Gratitude Letter
Express your gratitude to someone who did something especially for you, and for whom you have feelings of gratitude that have not been properly acknowledged. This is yet another way to develop the skill of feeling grateful – by acknowledging, with a gratitude letter, the simple gifts both big and small that others bring into your life.
Feeling Grateful Promotes Positive Events
Gratitude Promotes Positive Relationships
One way to recognize the quality of our relationships is to imagine our lives without certain people. This mental exercise stimulates grateful feelings for the people in our lives and helps promotes positive relationships.
Savor the Pleasures of Life
Savoring allows you to pause and experience the beauty and pleasures of life that come your way. When you savor some experience you are being mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events, which can then lead to happiness in the long run. Go ahead, get absorbed in the moment, count your blessings and enjoy feeling grateful!
These are just a few suggestions you might try to cultivate gratitude and more fully develop this positive skill for yourselves. It might be easier than you think, as this task of cultivating gratitude is really about compelling ourselves to simply pay attention to the good things in life that we might otherwise take for granted.
*(Research by Robert Emmons and colleagues at Greater Good Science Center – UC Berkeley)