We all know the age-old idea of having an "attitude of gratitude." Many of us can easily say we feel thankful for friends and family, our job, our home, and many of us only do this one time a year while eating turkey and mashed potatoes... 

When it comes to cultivating an attitude of gratitude though, we have to dig deep and practice consistently... Actively practicing gratitude requires us to consider specific, small things we feel grateful for on a daily basis. Instead of saying, "I feel grateful for my friends," we say, "I feel grateful that my friend took time out of her day to call me today" or "I feel grateful to have a friend who I can trust with my secrets." When we practice this kind of gratitude regularly, it has the power to change our perspectives and our lives.

Psychology Today compiled research from some of the leading gratitude studies in the Nation and reports that consistent gratitude practice has been scientifically proven to: 

  • Open the door to more relationships
  • Improve physical health
  • Improve psychological health
  • Enhance empathy and reduce aggression
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Increase mental strength

Here's 5 simple ways you can start practicing life-changing gratitude today and incorporate more thankfulness into your daily life:

1

Keep a daily gratitude "journal."

I know, I know... "Journaling" can seem like a daunting task, but recording the things you feel grateful for can have major positive effects. When we write down our experiences, we remember them; when we remember them, we can feel grateful for them. Take 2 minutes each day to record the things you are thankful for. Think small; be specific. And if you don't want to carry around a bulky journal, just use the notes section of your phone! 

2

Actively say, "Thank you."

Saying, "Thank you," is so simple and we don't say it often enough because on some level we may feel slightly entitled to the gifts or acts of kindness we receive. If we make an active decision to say, "Thank you," more often, we force ourselves to pay attention to the things that other people do for us which in turn allows us to feel more grateful. 

3

Give back.

Have you ever been at the window in the Starbucks drive-thru and the Barista informs you that the person in front of you paid for your order? Pay for the order of the person behind you! Giving back does not have to mean donating money to or volunteering with a charity. While those are both sure to make you feel better and help others, giving back can be more simple... Taking the acts of kindness you receive each day and re-paying them to others can help instill a lasting attitude of gratitude. 

4

Post-it!

This tip comes with two options:

  1. Post a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that reminds you to think about what you feel grateful for each day. While you're getting ready, think about it; take in all the good. You're sure to have a better day and feel more grateful. 
  2. Post a photo on Instagram or Facebook of a person, place, or thing you feel grateful for. Let the world know you appreciate it!

5

Reminisce.

Some days are just a drag and you might not feel very thankful. In this case, you could think about the sun and how you're grateful that it will set and rise for a new day tomorrow... But that doesn't work for everyone. So more realistically, think back to a time or experience that you felt grateful for: a person who did something nice for you, a place you thought was beautiful, an epiphany you had. Reminiscing on the past and expressing gratitude for it can make you feel happy in the moment, even on a downer day.   

Waltor Landor once said, "We are no longer happy as soon as we wish to be happier." There's a lot to be grateful for in this life, in this moment. Try one of these tips to help you find things that make you grateful, express your thankfulness, and experience more happiness now and every day after.