Gratitude may be one of the most important attitudes for mental and physical health. People who make gratitude a daily practice tend to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. But how do we create more gratitude in our lives, especially if we feel challenged or inadequate? Try these seven tips for cultivating the power of gratitude in your life.

1. Start Small

Its easy to be grateful for large things like recovering from an illness or receiving a birthday present. But to cultivate gratitude as a habitual way of being, we need to count everything as a gift.

When you wake in the morning, express gratitude for being alive another day, for having a bed in which to sleep, for work to use your skills, for food to nourish you. Be grateful for the hot water that makes your tea and the sun that gives light to your day. These expressions of gratitude can be out loud, in writing, or just in your head.

Starting small in any endeavor makes the whole idea less overwhelming. Eventually the goal is to be grateful for everything. But for now, if you can be grateful for just one small thing each day, you will be well on your way.

2. Fake It till You Make It

Some days, the last thing you might feel is grateful. Complaining, comparing, blaming, and wallowing in misery are the normal ways most people function these days. It can be so tempting to fall into that status quo. But you can do better.

If you dont totally 100 percent feel gratitude for something, thats okay. Just do your best. Choose to be grateful. Say Thank you enough times, and you may start feeling gratitude. This does not mean to be inauthentic. It means a willingness to believe that some part of you is grateful, even if your conscious brain is stuck in complaining.

3. Say It Out Loud

Feeling gratitude inside is important, and its a whole nother experience to say it out loud. When you express gratitude verbally, you get to hear yourself say those positive words, which will lift your mood and improve your brain chemistry.

Its even better when you express gratitude to another person especially for something they might not expect to be thanked for. Receiving an expression of gratitude creates feelings of joy and empowerment. Saying Thank you to someone uplifts both of you.

4. Give to Friends

Tangible expressions of gratitude take those good feelings one-step further. Then you are adding the power of action to the benefits of gratitude. What you give can be simple, such as a flower, candle, or box of tea. A little hand-written note expressing how much someone means to you can be an incredibly bonding and joyful experience.

Gifts are most effective when they are heartfelt. Giving someone a gift as a form of apology or from a sense of obligation might not turn out the way you would hope. You also want to choose gifts that are fitting for the person. For example, you would not want to give candy to a diabetic or wild flowers to someone with allergies.

But if the gift is sincere and appropriate, anything can help your friend feel truly appreciated, and will probably lift your spirit. As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, The scent of the rose remains on the hand that gives it.

5. Tithe

Another way of expressing gratitude is to give to people, organizations, and causes that need support. It should be a person or group that really resonates with you, and would be served by what you offer. This could be volunteering your time at an animal rescue shelter or donating money to a family friends fundraising campaign to cover medical costs. You might want to coach a local kids sports team or mentor young underprivileged writers. Again, what you give does not matter as much as that you give freely from your heart.

6. Keep a Gratitude Journal

At the end of each day, write down at least three things for which you are grateful. Writing down our gratitudes expands our capacity to feel grateful. In the studies done on gratitude practices, it was the people who maintained daily gratitude journals that experienced the most benefits. Making a daily practice also ensures that you will remember to tap into the feeling of gratitude every day.

7. Keep Looking

There is always something to be grateful for in every situation. Ultimately, we strive to be grateful for everything. It no longer matters whether something is an obvious benefit to us; we choose to be grateful for every experience, every moment of life. Then challenge and blessings are accepted and appreciated with equal grace. Highs and lows have less power to throw us off our game, because we able to appreciate all of it as the dance of life.

Our lives are made up not so much of our experiences, but how we choose to react to them. If we can learn to see life through the lens of appreciation, we will see that there is always so much to be grateful for.

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