The Six Skills of Cultivating Gratitude

Photo by: Juan Cruz Mountford on Unsplash

Today, many people will be celebrating the Thanksgiving Day holiday around the world and especially, in the United States. It is usually a time to gather with family and friends and remember all the things that we are thankful for in our lives. This heart of gratitude should not be reserved for just one day out of the year, but it should be cultivated daily.

Research shows that when we cultivate this attitude of thankfulness, then we are generally happier and the quality of our mental and emotional well-being improves. Also, people who are more grateful are more attractive because of their humility and positivity. They also project confidence, hope, and courage. Therefore, why wouldn’t you want to cultivate this attitude of gratitude?

But as you know, like with all skills, it is something that has to be developed. This means there needs to be a commitment to the process. The more we see the need for this particular skill and how it will benefit us, then we will want to put the time and effort into achieving it.

Today, many people will be celebrating the Thanksgiving Day holiday around the world and especially, in the United States. It is usually a time to gather with family and friends and remember all the things that we are thankful for in our lives. This heart of gratitude should not be reserved for just one day out of the year, but it should be cultivated daily.

Research shows that when we cultivate this attitude of thankfulness, then we are generally happier and the quality of our mental and emotional well-being improve. Also, people who are more grateful are more attractive because of their humility and positivity. They also project confidence, hope, and courage. Therefore, why wouldn’t you want to cultivate this attitude of gratitude?

But as you know, like with all skills, it is something that has to be developed. This means there needs to be a commitment to the process. The more we see the need for this particular skill and how it will benefit us, then we will want to put the time and effort in achieving it.

Here are 6 skills (THANKS) that you can focus in on so that you can start to cultivate an attitude of gratitude to go through life with greater joy and some perspective:

  1. T – TAP into your memory. Don’t forget that your brain is powerful, especially your memories. When you can tap into your memory of the treasure trove of good experiences, you will experience positive emotions, which will cause you to be grateful. But sometimes tapping into your memories might bring up negative feelings due to bad experiences. Therefore, as you think about those experiences, try to find the positives by focusing on how it made you stronger or wiser.

Next Steps: Try to think about one good thing that happened today and savor that moment and be grateful that you experienced it.

  1. H – HELP others. One thing that sucks the joy out of your life is when you live for yourself. It is very counter-intuitive. We naturally think that if we live for ourselves, then we will be happier, but this is not always the case. In fact, studies have shown that when a person focuses outside of themselves and help others, then they find a greater sense of joy and satisfaction. In order to cultivate more gratitude in your life, help others, and make a difference in their lives.

Next Steps: Find a need around you and then meet it. You have to be more mindful of the people around you in order to see the need. You might even want to contact a friend and ask them if there is something that you can do to help serve them.

  1. A – ATTITUDE checks. We allow the stresses and the things that we cannot uncontrol to rob us of possessing a heart of gratefulness. This is why we all need continual attitude checks. But the problem is that sometimes we are not able to catch ourselves and our attitude starts to slip away towards negativity and a complaining heart. Once again, an attitude of gratitude is something that we need to keep working on, therefore, it is helpful when we have several checks throughout the day. It does help if you invite someone close to you and who sees you in various contexts, to keep you accountable if your attitude gets sour.

Next Steps: Whenever you eat a meal (3x a day), pause for a moment and be thankful for the food that is before you and how everything that you have and get to do is really a privilege.

  1. N – NOTICE the positives. Are you a person that sees the glass half-full or half-empty? If you are the latter, then you might have to commit to changing your perspective. Pessimism will instantly kill a heart of gratitude. Regardless of the situation and how bad things might look, there is always a positive angle to it. This is why you have to look for it and give it some thought. Instead of always jumping into a negative mindset, try to pause and see what are some good things that you notice from the situation.

Next Steps: Practice asking yourself, “What are some good things that can come out of this?” This will cause you to think about the positives and not be overwhelmed by the negatives.

  1. K – KEEP a journal. We are forgetful people. Therefore, when we are able to keep a journal of the good things that we have experienced, then it is easy to realize that things are not so bad. Also, it helps us to remember all the things that we are thankful for. But it will require some level of commitment to do it on a regular basis. It helps when you have three columns – column 1 is for writing the date, column 2 is for writing the thing that you are thankful for, and column 3 is for writing the “why” and how you felt. In this way, you will have a more accurate record of things so that you can be grateful for when you see your heart complaining.

Next Steps: You can use a physical journal or an electronical one. But try to find a time where you can write things down as you reflect and remember. Some people do it right before they sleep or during their commute. Just find what works for you.

  1. S – SAY “thank you.” When you are able to verbalize your heart of gratitude, then you are positively reinforcing a good habit. This is one skill that does not require much. It just takes some mindfulness. Whenever someone does something for you, remember to always thank them. It might seem insignificant to you, but it has a huge impact, not only for that person but also on your mindset. Therefore, the more you practice saying, “thank you,” the more you will begin to feel good about being grateful.

Next Steps: Try saying, “thank you” to people you might not normally think about. It can be a security guard or even the cleaning person at your office. Then step it up a notch and think about someone who invested in you and write them an email or letter, thanking them for the difference that they have made in your life.

We must remember that having an “attitude of gratitude” can change your perspective on life, as well as make a positive impact on people around you. Don’t allow circumstances and negative feelings to control your heart of gratitude. We always have something to be thankful for, therefore, start to practice these six skills of THANKS and see things change within you and around you:

  1. T – TAP into your memory
  2. H – HELP others
  3. A – ATTITUDE checks
  4. N – NOTICE the positives
  5. K – KEEP a journal
  6. S – SAY “thank you”

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