7 Small Ways To Cultivate Gratitude

girl with lights, cultivating gratitude, happiness, focus on the happy
Aral Tasher

1. Slow down.

Our culture is go go go. There’s always something more we can be doing, some new trend to follow, or some idea to pursue that we haven’t yet mastered. When we look around, it feels like there’s an endless number of people who are more successful, prettier, stronger, smarter, richer—and if we choose to see all the things that we aren’t, or don’t have, we’re going to feel continually unsatisfied. But instead of getting caught up in the rush, slow down. Take an intentional breath. Refocus. Stop putting all your energy and attention in what you’re lacking, and remember the good that is you, and all around you.

2. Look back.

We’re often encouraged to look forward—this is healthy and inspiring—but sometimes there is value in looking back because it shows us how far we’ve come. Instead of looking at what we have left, or where we still need to go or accomplish, when we look behind us we see that we’ve already conquered so much. This change in perspective can reground us in our purpose, and remind us of our strength.

3. Listen.

Surround yourself with people who speak words of encouragement and inspiration. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or motivational speaker, draw in that positive energy and exhale the negative. Sometimes we get wrapped up in ourselves—take intentional time to listen rather than talk. And let the universe speak to you.

4. Make a blessings list.

We love to-do lists. They keep us motivated, they organize us, they push us forward. But something we hardly ever do is create lists of things we’re thankful for. Next time you go to write a list, for every goal you wish to accomplish, write something that you’re blessed with. Make it a point to appreciate what you have, while still striving to improve.

5. Make positivity your company.

Gratitude comes when you have a positive heart. If you’re in constant community with people who are always looking at what they need, or gauging their success on a scale with someone else, there will never be true peace in the present moment. So choose to focus on the individuals who bring you happiness and joy, rather than gossip, comparison, or bitterness.

6. Take a moment for intentional prayer/meditation.

One of the easiest (and perhaps most obvious) ways to cultivate gratitude is to simply be intentional about it. Take a moment when you first wake up to pray and thank God for the love, healing, and growth He’s brought into your life. If prayer and faith aren’t for you, then give yourself five minutes of quiet meditation. Spend this time being actively appreciative, rather than thinking about what you have to do next.

7. Give.

When you’re unsatisfied, give to someone else. The act of self-sacrifice is incredibly humbling, and helps to ground you in the truth of what you do have. When you’re looking to someone else’s happiness rather than your own, that unselfishness can help to remind you of all your blessings. And can shift your focus from material things to a greater purpose.

8. Disconnect.

Finding gratitude can be easy when you’re surrounded by the beauty of the world. Go on a hike. Sit by the ocean. Spend time away from electronics, distractions, and devices that keep you in constant hum with everyone around you. There are many beautiful advantages of having a technological world, but oftentimes that connection can be a tool for negative comparison. We’re so in tune with one another, it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘more more more’ lifestyle, rather than taking a step back and seeing all that we truly have. So unplug, walk away, turn it off. And let the world’s energy soak into your skin. TC mark

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