8 Gratitude-Expanding Practices To Show You How
Are you as happy as you want to be?
Is there room for any more joy in your life?
Do you ever wish you could find a shortcut to greater happiness?
Most people answer these questions, “YES!” or even “Hell, YES!”
Bring on the joy!
Well, you might be interested to know there is a shortcut to happiness.
You feel more happiness when you expand the presence of gratitude in your life.
The good news is it is free! No charge.
All it takes is a conscious awareness on your part to identify these opportunities to feel grateful for the goodness in your life.
To appreciate the gifts you are receiving in every single moment more and more. To amp it up! To blow it up in your awareness.
You already know how to do this.
If you are like most people, though, you may be using it backward.
You may be amping up the unwanted stuff.
Someone cuts you off in traffic!
You’re on it!
Swearing, gesturing, really letting them have it!
Amping up that anger, that frustration, that road rage!
Magnifying it and passing it on.
It feels horrible to dive into negative thoughts and feelings, and yet you unconsciously do it time after time.
It raises your blood pressure.
It damages your heart.
It contracts your breathing.
It activates cortisol which makes you feel stressed out, burned out.
Why are you using your thoughts to damage yourself like this?
It makes no sense when you stop to notice what is going on.
Stop this madness today!
Make a new choice. Take the shortcut to happiness with gratitude instead.
So the next time you get cut off in traffic,
use it to remind yourself to practice gratitude.
Look for something right there and then to appreciate.
Maybe the grateful thought would be:
“I’m grateful we didn’t have a collision.”
“I’m grateful I’m not that person.”
“I’m grateful for my brakes…they saved me again!”
“I’m grateful for this great music I’m listening to.”
“I’m grateful the sun is shining today.”
“I’m grateful for the ability to drive my car.”
“I’m grateful to have a car.”
See how many ways that moment of being cut off can lead to you feel more happiness and joy?
Can you see how powerful you are when you direct your mind to focus on what you want rather than on what you don’t want?
This is the power of mindset.
Here are some practices to expand your ability to use the gratitude shortcut to greater happiness at any moment.
Practice #1: Begin Your Day With Gratitude
When you first open your eyes in the morning, look for something to feel grateful for. Here are some examples:
“I’m so grateful this comfortable bed.”
“I appreciate these warm blankets.”
“I love my pillow!”
“I’m so grateful my eyes are working and I can see my room.”
See, just little things. You don’t have to go far to appreciate something. But it starts the day off with a good feeling.
That’s a great way to start the day!
Practice #2: Write Down What You Appreciate
Anchor these grateful feelings into your physical world by writing a couple things down in a notebook as part of your morning ritual. You don’t have to write a book.
Even one word is enough if it triggers the feelings of gratefulness.
If you make this a “must,” right up there with brushing your teeth, you will soon discover that your level of happiness is expanding.
Practice #3: Transform Negativity into Gratefulness
Once you set your mind with gratitude you may find after a while that you actually desire to stay in that joyful place. When something comes along that triggers a negative response you begin to notice.
Yuck, something spoiled my happy groove. Bummer. What’s the thought that triggered me?
Then take a moment to track that thought down.
Don’t worry about who or what triggered you. That doesn’t matter so much.
Stay with you. What thought was it?
Maybe your boss comes to your desk and says, “Where’s that report? It was due an hour ago.”
Your thought was, “There’s no pleasing this guy. No matter how much I do, it isn’t enough.”
That’s the trigger!
What would you prefer to think? What thought would empower you?
Maybe something like, “My boss is really relying on me. He values my work.”
From that space, you respond to his question.
Instead of excuses, you say, “I found some complexities I wasn’t expecting. I should have let you know. The report will be done in 30 minutes, and it will have this added component that I know will be important.”
See? You found the opportunity!
The boss says, “Great work! But just call me next time and let me know when you get delayed, ok?”
Practice #4: Release Entitlement
Have you noticed when your expectations are met you tend to skip over the situation? You barely notice.
And when your expectations aren’t met you tend to complain, right?
What good then are expectations?
Whether your expectations are met or not met, no joy.
When you live with the thought that you are entitled to things, that your expectations are governing the thoughts and actions of other people, you are setting yourself up for frustration, disappointment, and unhappiness.
Practicing gratitude enhances humility. Instead of expectation, you are living in appreciation for what you have received already.
Practice noticing your expectations.
Using our traffic example, notice that you expect people to be kind and considerate drivers. You expect them to make way for you. You expect them to let you change lanes with no signal, and cut in front of them.
That is not a humble way to drive.
But you might say, “If you are not an aggressive driver you won’t get where you are going in today’s hostile road environment.”
I know it can seem that way.
But it might be worth it to try driving with humility.
Just experiment with a more humble approach to life. See what happens.
Often times people cut in front of me, and later there they are, sitting at the traffic light when I pull up. The light changes to green, and we both move forward at the same time. I just smile to myself and appreciate that I can be relaxed and calm inside while I am driving.
Maybe that equanimity would feel good to you too.
Notice your expectations and see if you would be willing to trade them for gratitude and appreciation.
Practice #5: Appreciate Others
Find ways to compliment other people. Notice what they are doing right, or doing well, and mention it.
Notice how you feel when someone goes out of their way to appreciate something about you.
Pay that forward, and watch your happiness expand exponentially.
Remember that what you focus your attention on expands.
When you catch people doing something right and appreciate it out loud they tend to do more of that thing.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
That is a big clue to having what you want in life.
Do you get it?
Practice #6: Seek the Opportunity
Every challenging experience is present in your life to show you the way into actualizing your potential.
This truth is why life is so trustworthy.
When we expect smooth sailing and freak out when challenges come along, we live a very bumpy life.
When you appreciate obstacles from a place of knowing they are there to serve you, the wave that might have capsized your boat instead lifts it up.
See how that works?
You don’t have to fight, and struggle, and resist life.
Appreciate the challenges by being committed to finding the opportunities.
When you come from the knowing that unconditional LOVE underlies this entire world of form, life becomes trustworthy.
This trust will allow you to embrace obstacles and use them to birth more of your potential into the world.
Practice #7: Notice Your Thoughts
I’ve mentioned this already, but it is worth establishing as a gratitude practice of its own.
What are you thinking right now?
Are your thoughts of appreciation, celebration, and joy?
Or are you struggling, resisting, fight life with your thoughts?
Are you telling yourself things shouldn’t be the way they are? What’s up with that?
Are you actually going to set yourself against what is? Really?
If you want to be happier you have to let this loser strategy go.
Embrace what is.
Choose grateful elevated thoughts, and watch life just keep getting better and better.
Practice #8: Visualize Expansion
The world is always expanding.
That is the nature of consciousness.
So get with the program.
Choose change. Choose growth. Choose expansion.
See your life expanding in joyful ways. Visualize your dreams coming true.
See yourself having new choices, making new decisions, succeeding in unexpected ways.
Appreciate what is and be grateful for the opportunity to ride along with life.
These 8 gratitude practices will transform your life if you let them.
Rate your happiness baseline on a scale of 1–10.
Use these 8 Gratitude Practices consciously for 30 days.
At the end of the time rate your happiness baseline again.
I have no doubt you will notice the difference.
Let me know, okay? I look forward to hearing from you.