Are you a worrier? Do you feel like you spend too much of your time focusing on what could go wrong instead of noticing what is going right in your life?
What about feeling like you need to be perfect? Does it seem like all you do is try to measure your life against other people’s lives and always feel like you’re falling short of some ‘ideal life’?
And how are your stress levels lately? Are you constantly feeling the pressure to get things right and maybe even feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?
Do These Sound Familiar?
You’re not alone! I think most of us can relate to some or all these issues, whether they are temporary problems or feel more like a permanent fixture in our lives.
I’ve had my own struggles with worry, perfectionism, and stress. There was a time in my life about a year ago that I felt completely overwhelmed with these problems. But thankfully, I found an amazing tool that helped me push all those issues aside and start living a happier life.
That tool is GRATITUDE.
The main reason why gratitude is so life-changing is that it forces us to stop focusing on the negative things in our lives and allows us to change our perspective. Instead of dwelling on bad stuff, we can start recognizing and appreciating all the good things that we have going for us.
When put into action, practicing gratitude can almost feel magical. The weight of the world feels like it’s slowly lifting off your shoulders and suddenly things that used to bother you don’t feel so bad after all. It’s not even that the bad stuff has disappeared or gone away, it’s just that your mindset has shifted to a place where those things don’t seem so terrible after all.
What Does That Look Like?
Let me give you an example from my own life…
About a year ago I hit rock bottom with my depression and had to slowly pull myself out of the darkest period of my life. As I got better, I was constantly worried about slipping backwards and stressed about falling back into a bad place. Practicing gratitude was like having a guiding light that helped me get out of that hole and eventually get to the happiest place I’ve ever been.
When I first started focusing on gratitude, the good things I felt grateful for were very small, almost to the point where you’d wonder if it even mattered enough to spend energy on being grateful for them. I would wake up in the morning and be grateful that it was nice, a sunny day. Or I’d see a funny video on Facebook and be grateful for a reason to laugh for a minute.
Over time, the small things I felt grateful for seemed to multiply and grow. It’s almost like a game where you start to realize how good it feels to be grateful and then you keep looking for more and more things in your life to feel good about. And as you get better at this ‘game’, the things you notice become bigger and bigger.
The best thing about gratitude is that it works like a snowball effect. You can feel gratitude for one small thing in your day and that will change your perspective a tiny bit towards feeling happier. Then later that day you can come across a new situation and you might be a little more inclined to focus on the good in that moment rather than the bad. If you can slowly start to shift your mind to pay more attention to good things and less attention to bad things, you will be amazed at how quickly your viewpoint changes.
How Can I Start Practicing Gratitude?
There are a ton of ways to focus on gratitude. One of the easiest and best ways is to start a gratitude journal. You can use an empty notebook or the Notes app on your phone. I’ve personally found it helpful to get a daily planner with a blank writing space for each day. Leave the notebook or planner next to your bed and make a goal to either start or end your day with gratitude. Simply write down a couple of things that you are feeling grateful for in that moment. It only takes a minute or two, but being intentional with your gratitude practice will really start to shift your mindset.
Another great resource for new ideas is Pinterest. I’ve made a gratitude board on Pinterest with a bunch of pins on how you can start building gratitude into your life. There are ideas for activities you can do and even some crafty types of projects, if that’s your thing. Go check it out and you might find something that inspires you!
I’ve also made a helpful guide that I’m calling the 5-by-5 Gratitude Challenge. This is a fun way to kickstart your gratitude practice by spending 5 minutes a day for 5 days answering a question each day. The guide to the challenge has been added to my FREE Resource Library, so if you’re interested in checking it out you can sign up for my email list and get access to the entire library, including the 5-by-5 Gratitude Challenge.
I hope you liked this blog post and I am excited to keep sharing more tools with you in the rest of The HAPPY Series. If you know anyone who might like to learn more about becoming happier, please feel free to share this post with them. Stay tuned for the next post in two weeks when I’ll be talking about the 'A' in HAPPY, which is how you can Accept Your Problems to be happier.
Until then, sending all the light & love your way,
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