Feel Grateful For the Little Things

How do you feel about your life?

From the time we are young children, we are taught to want more. Do your best in school; score the winning touchdown; never give up. We are told to do more, be better.

No longer limited to just TV, magazines and radio, advertisements can be found on every website, email, street corner and even on bathroom stalls. Daily we are inundated with ads that are specifically crafted to show us what we will be most tempted to buy, at the time we will be most tempted to buy it. We freely give our personal information to large corporations that use this data to find better ways to get us to buy their products, use their services.

All to get us to want more.

Our economy depends on this desire to have the latest gadget, the fastest computer or the coolest car. As soon as we buy the latest phone the next generation is announced and we begin counting down the days until it’s released. The excitement over our current purchase completely eclipsed by what will be replacing it.

It’s no wonder so many of us are unhappy with our lives.

What if, instead of focusing on the things we don’t have, the things we think will make us happy, we instead use this energy to grateful for everything that we already have? What would our lives look like if we chose to appreciate the people who bring us joy and support us in times of trouble? How would we feel if we were grateful for the roof over our head and food on the table, instead of wishing the house were bigger and the food fancier?

It is impossible to feel both lacking and grateful at the same time.

You simply can’t feel like you don’t have enough in your life, if you are truly grateful for all that you have. If you are able to appreciate each person, each possession, each event in your life, you will have little time to feel that you are missing out on something better.

Gratitude is a habit.

Cultivating a feeling of gratitude is a habit. We have been so accustomed to complaining about what isn’t fair, about what we don’t have, that we are not used to generating gratefulness. It’s ok if at first you have a hard time finding something to feel grateful for.

Start small.

Find one small thing right now that you appreciate. It can be anything. Say it out loud, or better yet write it down in a gratitude journal. This can be as simple as a notebook you carry with you or an app on your phone where you can list things you are grateful for as you think of them. Writing them down will give you something to look at when you’re having trouble feeling grateful in the future.

I will start.

I am grateful for:

A hot cup of coffee in the morning.
Five minutes of quiet after the kids go to bed.
A sunny morning that is just the right temperature.
A weekend with nothing scheduled.
Good friends I can call when I’m feeling down.
A quick text from a friend that lets me know she’s thinking of me.

What are you grateful for?

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Write down all the amazing little things you are grateful for

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If you’re struggling in life it could be difficult for you to find reasons to be grateful. It’s easy to focus on all the things that aren’t going so well, the limitations you have, the difficulties you face. You may be having financial problems, going through a divorce, or you may even have suffered a disability or loss of a loved one.

As challenging as it may be, it is during these times of distress that it’s most important for you to feel grateful for all that you have in your life.

I recommend starting a gratitude journal. You can use a tiny notebook that you keep in your pocket, an app on your phone, or a leather bound book; choose whatever you will feel excited to use. I keep a journal and a pen by my bed, but I also jot down little things on my phone all day long. If you’re into social media you can use that to record what you are grateful for. Every day I post at least 1 thing to Twitter for which I am thankful.

You can write down a bulleted list of all you are grateful for, or you can write in detail about one thing you are most grateful for. You can write in the morning, in the evening, or jot down ideas over the course of the day. The purpose really is to get yourself into the habit of finding things for which you can feel grateful.

Let’s set some ground rules!

1. Be honest. This is incredibly important. This doesn’t work if you’re just going through the motions and don’t actually feel grateful. If you got into a fight with your best friend today, then today isn’t the day you’re going to be grateful for her. If your dog destroyed your favorite pair of shoes, then you can be thankful for your K9 friend a different day. Keep thinking and find something that you are truly thankful for today.

2. Look for every little thing. The things you are grateful for don’t have to be big things. They can be itty bitty little tiny things, as long as you are truly thankful for them. Did you enjoy your morning cup of coffee? Did your kids sleep in an extra 10 minutes? Did you make the green light on the way to the office? Being grateful for little things will help form this habit just as well as the big things.

3. Be very specific. For example, you might not feel that “I am grateful for my husband” resonates with you if you just got into a huge fight. Instead try, “I am grateful that my husband did the dishes after dinner.” Or, if your children have been bickering all day and you’re at your whit’s end you might not feel that “I am grateful for my children” is entirely true. Instead try, “I am grateful it’s almost bedtime.” If you’re frustrated with your job you might not feel that “I am grateful for my career” is sincere. Instead try, “I am grateful for the person who made coffee at the office this morning.

4. Be consistent. In the beginning it will be extremely valuable to do this every single day. I know you’re busy but cultivating a feeling of gratitude will be life changing. Once you develop the habit you will be happier; you will feel less stressed; you will feel rejuvenated. Do whatever you have to do to make sure you do this every day. Put a reminder on your phone. Get your kids, husband, friends, or coworkers to remind you. Each morning put your journal on your pillow to remind yourself to write in it. Post to whatever social media you use every day. Do whatever it takes to be consistent and you will see results.

Have you started a gratitude journal? If so, let me know what you think!

No good comes from always wanting more

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We are a society of consumers.

We are exposed to advertisements all day, every day. Ads are no longer limited to television, newspapers and radio. You now see them everywhere you turn. Branding is has become so important there are now games where people guess the name of the company from the logo.

Thanks to the endless data collected, advertisements have become more targeted than ever before. We are now exposed to the products we are most likely to buy, at the times we’re most likely to buy them. Have you ever searched for something in Amazon, then opened your Yahoo account, only to find an ad for the exact item you had been searching for? That’s not a coincident.

Technology changes so quickly that by the time you’ve made your purchase, the faster, better version has already been announced.

We no longer need to find time to go to the store, now that we are able to order whatever we desire from the convenience of our phones.

We are continuously encouraged to want more. There is no end to the products companies are making available, and our desires are keeping up with them. We are left wanting more, dissatisfied with what we already have.

This constant feeling of wanting drains us of happiness. Because of this we fail to appreciate all that is ours; we fail to feel grateful.

Yet gratitude is possibly the most important key to happiness. If you feel grateful you can’t also feel unhappy, not at the same time.

It is impossible to feel lonely, if you’re feeling grateful for your best friend, even if she’s away.

It is impossible to feel lacking, if you’re feeling grateful for all you possess.

It is impossible to feel bored, if you’re feeling grateful for all that you’ve accomplished.

It is impossible to feel “less than,” if you’re feeling grateful for all that you are.

Cultivate a feeling of gratitude instead of want. When you see advertisements pause to be grateful for all that you already have. You may still want more, but perhaps you’ll also experience a bit of joy as well.