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Giving yourself and other people gratitude seems like a pretty simple thing to do. Yet how many of us actually do it?
Some time back, I set up this challenge for myself: to write 3 things I’m grateful for each and every day. As I look back over my list, I realized many of them were really simple like:
To be honest, I thought I would run out of ideas. I thought I would have to be original and not put the same thing down twice—ever! But as time went on, I relaxed about whether or not I had ever expressed gratitude about something before or not. As I did, it became easier and easier to think of new things I was grateful about and to continue to feel grateful about some core things in my life.
I also found that doing this exercise at the beginning of the day helped set the tone for the rest of the day. I discovered it made me feel damn happy! It helped me to recognize how truly fortunate I am in my life—even when things don’t always work out or go my way.
It also helped me to change what I focused on, even though I wasn’t intentionally trying to do that! It just helped me see the brighter side of things naturally!!
During times when things didn’t go so well, I was able to reframe and/or find a solution faster because I was already in a good mood.
The next challenge I made for myself was to express gratitude to those I care about or that I interact with in my daily life. I chose to try to use opportunities I had during various day-to-day activities to express gratitude to others.
For example, earlier today I expressed gratitude to a technical support person for helping me fix my email problems. “You’re a star! You helped me fix something I’ve been struggling with for the past 12 hours. I’m so grateful! I really appreciate it!” He sounded genuinely surprised but happily so to hear my gratitude.
Some easy ways to express gratitude are:
Martin Seligman, a well-known Psychologist and author wrote a book called Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. In it, he suggests another gratitude exercise. He suggests we sit down a write someone a letter in a thoughtful and purposeful way to express what the person did for you and how it affected your life. Write at least 300 words.
Once you’ve finished the letter, set up a time to meet the person and read the letter out loud to her or him.
What are you grateful for? How do you express it?