Five Simple Things You Should Be Grateful For

What are you thankful for?  For many of us, this is not something we think about on a regular basis. Instead, it gets buried by the big and little day to day negative things that happen in our lives.  
 
When we include gratitude in our daily thoughts we are actually widening our point of view beyond the self and concentrating on our connection to everything and everyone else. As we discussed in 5 Ways to Stay Happy Backed by Science, being grateful actually increases happiness levels. It’s a worthwhile exercise.            
 
If you’re not in the habit of thinking about what to be grateful for, it may be difficult to know where to start. Here are five ideas to think about to get you started.
 
1. Life’s Basic Necessities
Imagine yourself making breakfast in the morning. You get out of bed, start the coffee and take some food out of the fridge.  It’s an everyday routine.  Most of us in the developed world don’t think twice about this experience, but there are a lot of people on Earth that do not share this same experience.  Access to fresh food, clean water and a place to live are basic necessities that are worth stepping back and appreciating.  
 
Tomorrow morning, try to recognize the privilege that surrounds you – suddenly, the frustration of sitting in traffic and going to work may have less power over your emotions.
 
2.  Friends and Family
The ones we love offer an endless source of gratitude.  Whether it’s your blood relatives, best friends, or chosen family, these individuals frequently care and sacrifice for us. Think of the ways that these people have shown you love; being there when life was a lot harder than it should be, being a source of strength or taking care of you when you’re ill. 
 
3.  Seeing Another Day
Waking up in the morning is something to be thankful for. Many of us assume that we will see tomorrow, and most of the time we are right. However, that is not always the case for everyone.  
 
Each day truly is a gift. Even when they suck. Try not to take a single one for granted.
 
See your life in jellybeans.
 
4.  The Power of People
The accomplishments that surround us are fascinating when you stop to think of the ingenuity, persistence and hard work that had to take place. If you are a fan of technology, there are almost weekly announcements in science, medicine and internet based advancements. 
 
Or, you can reach back in time and look at what we have accomplished, such as the Wonders of the World, and think about what it took to achieve these feats without the benefit of modern technology. Even with all its troubles, the world is a wondrous place.
 
5.  Life’s Lessons
You are the person you are today because of a combination of past experiences. While these experiences were not always pleasant at the time, they set forth a series of chain reactions that have culminated in the person that is YOU.
 
Be grateful for the hard times. Even when you are in the middle of it. It has been shown that stress is greatly reduced if you can mentally step back and think of bad times as a growth and learning opportunity. Take it and apply to life going forward. Mistakes are where you learn what doesn't work. The alternative is to be stressed, or crushed if it is bad enough.
 
So while you may wish that certain things did not happen to you, without those experiences you would not be the same. 
 
Practicing Gratitude
Gratitude can be incorporated as part of a daily practice. It doesn't need to be a complicated or require a big scheduling change.
 
A gratitude journal is one way to implement this, or taking five or ten minutes in the morning to slow down and reflect is another.
 
Find, or make, some quiet time. It's hard to get to a place of gratitude when you are scrambling to get the kids out the door to school. Control your breathing with a few deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. And consider what you are grateful for. Those aspects of your life that are important, meaningful and fulfilling.
 
Remember to be specific. A note like “I am grateful for my mother”, does not carry the same weight as “I am grateful for how my mother played games with me on long drives”. By being specific, it helps ensure you truly reflect on the moment you are grateful for, rather than a general concept, which helps derive the benefits of gratitude.
 
Go forth and be grateful. You’ll be thankful you did.