The attitude of gratitude is hands down, my favourite thing to do each day. This daily practice is so simple, and yet so transformative.
So what do you do?
Develop your attitude of gratitude
At a basic level, you take three things you’re grateful for, and you give thanks. Whether you do it out loud, quietly in your head, in a journal or through prayer, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you find something to be grateful for. That’s it – attitude of gratitude!
You may be having the world’s worst day, and feel like everything is going wrong, but there will be something hidden in amongst all the rubbish to be grateful for.
Finding it, is the attitude of gratitude.
If you’re deep in the dark thoughts right now, be kind to yourself. Even if you can only think of one thing to be grateful for, focus on that. Focus on it twenty times a day, until you start to notice another thing, and another thing. (And if you are one of these people, I’ve been there, and the best advice someone gave me was to treat yourself with the same kindness you would give to a friend).
Being truly honest, the attitude of gratitude takes work. Hard bloody work. It’s really easy to fall back into old habits.
This attitude of gratitude practice is really new to me, so I’ve got 30 years of negative reinforcement to undo. Trust me when I say it doesn’t happen over night! When I’m in a really shitty mood, I’ll make myself write 100 things on my list. This absolutely cracks my husband up, because he’s like “yeah you’ve been moaning a LOT”, and you know what, he’ll be right.
How gratitude affects physiology
Have you ever noticed that when someone pisses you off, you’ll muster on it. You’ll then pick up on all the other insanely irritating things they do that annoy you. And then once you run out of ideas, you’ll remember that other person who jumped in front of you in the queue.
(Note: if you’re reading this outside the UK, there is no worse offence than pushing in a queue – and it’s a queue, not a line!)
We’ve all heard of Type A personalities and heart attacks right? Well, when you’re living in anger and frustration, your body is adapting by switching on your sympathetic nervous system, and getting ready to fight a tiger. Long term, that’s not good.
So why not reverse it?
Why not recognise when the frustration is kicking in, and train yourself to give thanks rather than complain? You’ll find that it soon becomes a habit that sets you off on a different train of thought.
When I’m truly grateful for what’s going on around me, I am better with my kids, more productive, have more creativity and a higher threshold too!
Most of all though, your thoughts create a certain type of energy within your cells. Thoughts are things. They bring about very real changes within your body’s physiology. They will allow your nervous system to dampen down the stress response, and work in the parasympathetics, what we call rest and digest.