Have you ever felt so busy you didn’t have time to breathe? Too busy to stop and notice all the things that are working because you are focused on all the things that aren’t? Too busy to look for the good because you are overwhelmed with the bad? Too busy to stop and appreciate all the things right in the world because the list of things not right is so long?
What we focus on expands, and when we focus on what we don’t want, didn’t get and don’t have, we get more of that. Getting grateful makes us healthier, happier, and more resilient. Here are 5 ways to do it:
- 3 Good Things
Every evening at dinner, my partner Neil and I share 3 good things that happened to us during the day, instead of trying to outdo each other with the challenges of our bad days. Bryan Sexton, Ph.D., Director of Patient Safety Center at Duke University conducted a study and found this simple practice decreased depression and improved happiness in just 14 days.
- Flip your script
Christine Carter, author of The Sweet Spot, How to Accomplish More by Doing Less, suggests the next time someone asks you how you are, pause for a moment and reflect on something you a grateful for. Perhaps you are grateful for the cooler weather so you can wear your boots, or your great night of sleep, or a fabulous new book you are reading.
- Write a Thank You Note
In these days of quick texting and emails, a hand written note is not only a kind gesture, it gives the recipient a rare opportunity to read and re-read your gratitude and even display it. A thank you note contributes to your happiness and theirs.
Take a gratitude break. Make a list of all the things going well in your life. Start with yourself. All the body parts that work, where you are today compared to a year ago, what you are learning and noticing. Then move on to your relationships, your life work, your finances, etc. Wherever you are in any of these areas, even if it’s not perfect, there is more going right than wrong.
- Get outside (of yourself)
When we lose our perspective and feel overwhelmed and not good enough, it’s time to get outside ourselves. Reach out to someone you know who may need a kind word, a supportive shoulder, or to hear the words, I love you.
In our busy and complex lives, the practice of getting grateful has never been more important. Try at least one of these for the next 14 days and see if you feel any different.