I'm not a naturally thankful person. I have to consciously work to have and express gratitude. Here are some of the ways I've learned how to be more grateful.
1. Stop bad habits.
In 1936, Dale Carnegie published his famous self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
His advice, “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain,” is one of the keys to cultivating a grateful heart. After all, we can’t be practicing an attitude of gratitude if we’re criticizing, condemning, or complaining.
“Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.”
One of my mentors took this a step further, with what he calls the “6 C’s”.
The first time I heard this, I felt so convicted. I was doing all of these. It was no wonder I was miserable!
How could I overcome my weaknesses and create a more joyful life?
The action items are simple, but not easy.
You see, I was harsh and judgmental—a diehard critic with a potty mouth and knack for nagging. But I didn’t want to be this way. I’d just developed some bad habits.
To overcome this, I implemented two habits that radically changed my life.
2. Know Your Triggers
Developing an attitude of gratitude meant focusing on what I was grateful for, not on whatever was annoying me. This meant:
My biggest trigger was other people, specifically, my husband.
For example, “Ugh, I can’t believe my husband left a mess in the kitchen. I can’t believe how inconsiderate he is!”
^^^ This was a common complaint. It was often internal, but sometimes verbally expressed as well!
You can see how these kinds of thoughts could be detrimental to my relationship, let alone to my wellbeing. Or, you might be thinking about how the dirty kitchen is a valid complaint. Sure it is, but is complaining about it going to solve the problem? Probably not. Is cleaning the kitchen while stewing in my bitterness and resentment going to solve the problem? I’ll have a clean kitchen, but no, I’ll still be [even more] miserable.
You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself.
If I asked nicely, my husband would clean the kitchen. But the kitchen being dirty wasn’t the issue. The issue was how I responded to it.
Recognizing when I was having a negative thought/complaint was the first step to cultivating gratitude. The challenge came in finding at least three positive thoughts to replace it!
3. Replace the Complaints
Things to be grateful for… Things I appreciate about my husband… My mind was drawing a blank.
Why was this so hard???
It took practice, but my negative thoughts such as, “Why does he have to be so messy/inconsiderate?” became:
With time, looking at a dirty kitchen no longer aggravated me. Instead, I cleaned up with a grateful heart, knowing that I had a good man, who *maybe* didn’t have cleanliness as a strong suit.
4. Thank People
In addition to finding things to be grateful for, it was important for me to express my gratitude, especially to other people. This meant saying “thank you” more and letting people know how much I valued them.
“Seeds of discouragement cannot take root in a grateful heart. Take time today to find at least one thing to be grateful for.”
What I’ve found is that saying thank you and expressing gratitude means a lot to the other person. They are always so grateful to hear how I’m grateful!
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
5. Embrace the Joy
In addition to impacting the lives of those around me, practicing gratitude has also done wonders for my mental health. It’s allowed me to see the beauty in life, focus on hope, and cultivate joy.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude not only shows other people how much we value them, but also how much we value ourselves.
Nicole Starbuck is an intuitive business coach helping spiritual women entrepreneurs stress less, achieve more, and build 6-figure online empires online without the burnout. Click here to learn more.