How to practice being grateful?

November 28, 2022

How to practice being grateful?

A few years back, I made a process that helped me adopt a more thankful lifestyle, and the idea came from when I was reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It was his journal—it was never meant to be a book—but he starts by thanking all the people who have taught him things and contributed a lot to the person he has become. And I thought, “Man, what an amazing way to start your own private journal—What am I grateful for and who am I thankful for? And how do I thank them?”

Sometimes, it is a challenge to be thankful. We get bombarded by so many curve balls thrown our way that it may be hard to be grateful. Thanksgiving might be over, but we can all keep working to have a more grateful attitude and outlook. After all, gratitude does wonders for our brains and how we see and respond to things. 

The more we practice looking for things to be thankful for and that make our day better rather than focusing on what offends us, the easier it is to find things that make us appreciate life more.

What I do is, at the end of the day, I go through a set of questions to ask myself. The right kind of questions can prompt the right kind of thinking process, which is why the quality of our questions matters. Here are the questions you can use to help yourself practice thankfulness.

  1. Was there an instance throughout the day that made you smile or where you were happy?

It's a good idea to reflect at the end of the day on the things that made you smile and happy. We all need those endorphins to help combat stress from work and just life in general. Besides, thinking of those moments will make you smile again after a long day.

  1. Was there someone that made your life easier today or made you smile?

Instead of thinking, “Who out there pissed me off?"—because we do have those people in our lives—why don’t we start focusing on, “Who out there made me happy? Who made my life a little bit easier today?”

When we shift what we focus on, our minds and our moods shift with it. What kindness have you been showered with today, and who generously gave it to you?

  1. Is there anything that you are proud of today? Something you’ve accomplished.

It is good to think of other people who made it easier for you to live and of things or circumstances that made you happy. But you should also look back and reflect on yourself. What were things you are grateful for about yourself or what you did? It is also important to look at you.

This might sound a little stoic, but there is something about you. Something that you do daily. Something that you hold the power to, that you accomplish, no matter how small, that you should be proud of.

We sometimes get hung up thinking of things we wish we had done that make us feel inadequate. Then you don’t give yourself enough credit. Be thankful for YOU.

  1. Is there someone you’ve been wanting to thank that you haven’t reached out to?

It is easy to be grateful for the big help we receive, but a lot of times we take the small things people do for us for granted. Now is the time to think back on those times when you were able to accomplish things because someone did something in the background that went unnoticed and actually thank them for those little things. Life is too short to take people for granted, so go tell them how awesome they are and how grateful you are that they are there for you.

  1. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, think about your ability to process information, and be thankful for your mind with its capacity to refine thoughts that can create an amazing future for you.

This one is less of a question and more of a statement. Take the time to just be aware of your existence and marvel at it. Breathe, because that is important. Let go of the tension you are holding onto and appreciate just being.

You can do this every day or a couple of times a week. Let’s train our minds to gravitate toward a more positive outlook. It grows from there, and the more we do it, the easier it becomes to look for things to be grateful for—and there are tons of those in our lives.