Finding Gratitude Starts with Noticing all the Little Masterpieces of Life

Simple Thoughts of Thanks are Found in the Ordinary Everyday

Do you ever notice how much more we focus on the things that we don’t want? It’s as if it’s more socially acceptable to complain. Almost like we have been trained to connect to each other over the things we don’t like, rather than finding connection through grace. We have defined ourselves by what we hate, rather than focusing on what we love. 

Tell me, how is this mindset serving you? Serving your community? Your work? 

The Gratitude Chain, by AJ Jacobs, is a great reminder to focus on all the little masterpieces that help you find gratitude. AJ was interviewed recently on NPR and it was a breath of fresh air. 

It’s so easy to say you want to be a better person or practice gratitude. Yet so many of us fall back into our grumpy selves the first moment we encounter a difficult person or situation. We go back to our programming when we know where that road leads. 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Living in judgment
  • Being Stressed out, and 
  • Feeling separate from others is not the way to live. 

You know this, so why is it so hard for us to change?

It’s hard to do because we are overworked, over-stimulated, over-caffeinated, living in a competitive climate that benefits from us being at each other’s throats. 

We all have a deep desire to be seen and loved by those around us. It takes you noticing the small daily miracles that make up your life to step into that world. The truth is your thoughts create your life, so if you want to live in grace you must practice gratitude every single day. 

This is something that takes work, so here are 3 ways to start practicing gratitude in your life today. 

  1. Everyone Has A Story.

As you move through your life it’s easy to forget that everyone you pass has a story that is influencing their actions. Just like you, they are trying to make it through the day. They want their families to be safe and healthy, just like you. Their story has many layers and sometimes we interact during a challenging situation or a peaceful moment. 

  • The person who makes your coffee has a story
  • The driver who just cut you off in traffic has a story
  • The busy customer service agent you just waited 20 minutes to talk to has a story
  • The family member you had a falling out with has a story

Everyone has a story that you will never know about. But you can believe that they want the same thing you want: To be happy, healthy, and loved. If you can remember that, it’s much easier to not take things so personally. 

The media will show you a story of communities being divided and then that is what we start to see. If you learn to shift your thoughts to what you have in common with everyone you meet, it will become easier to see them as a human being. Even the worst of encounters can be looked at through the lens of compassion when you learn to see yourself in all situations. 

  1. Saying Thank You

Another simple thing to practice is saying thank you. You can say thank you for…

  • The roof over your head
  • The people in your life
  • Your steady paycheck
  • Walks in the park
  • Even the challenging moments in your life

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of things to be grateful for on any given day. Saying thank you silently to yourself or out loud to another is a simple yet profound way to let your gratitude grow.

A recent study at Harvard Medical School confirmed that saying thank you can make you happier. When you express gratitude towards another you not only help them to feel good, but you get to feel good too! Expressing gratitude towards the universe at large sends out signals of love to your entire environment helping you to connect and see more things to be thankful for. 

Thought leader James Clear has a great article titled “Make Your Life Better By Saying Thank You In These 7 Situations” It’s a reminder of how grace and thanks go hand in hand. 

  1. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving a compliment.
    • Thank you, I worked really hard on that.
  2. Say “Thank You” when you’re running late.
    • Thank you for waiting.
  3. Say “Thank You” when you’re comforting someone.
    • Thank you for trusting me with that.
  4. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving helpful feedback.
    • Thank you for helping me grow.
  5. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving unfair criticism.
    • Thank you for your opinion.
  6. Say “Thank You” when someone gives you unsolicited advice.
    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
  7. Say “Thank You” when you’re not sure if you should thank someone.
    • Thank you for that.

Try it! Live today in continual thanks and see what offerings it brings. 

3. Savoring the Moments

We are living so much of our lives on autopilot. From the moment you get up, a series of motions begin to play out with little to no thought.

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Taking a shower
  • Getting dressed
  • Making coffee
  • The drive to work
  • Work!

Even your interactions are often said or done as a part of an automatic framework playing inside you. Instead, what if you began to savor each of these mundane things. Noticing the water on your skin, or even the fact that you can take a shower with clean warm water whenever you want. What if you decided to switch up your commute by taking a country road, or listening to an audiobook. Switch up the neural pathways in your brain to take you out of autopilot and into savoring the moment. 

How would that change your relationships? Do you think you would find yourself more connected and in tune with your environment and those you love? Doing these simple activities that help you savor your morning cup of coffee or the 9am company meeting will open you up to new possibilities. You will find gratitude more easily once you are open to seeing it in your everyday routine. 

Once you see it in your routine you will find thanks and understanding. It’s a cycle. 

When we look for happiness it eludes us, but if instead, we look for gratitude then happiness will find us. 

If you are grateful, you are not fearful

When you are living with an attitude of gratitude you have moved from a fear mindset into a growth mindset. When you are grateful it’s hard to see lack or judgment because you are so focused on the good that surrounds you. 

Like all things, it is a practice and one you must do daily. Incorporating gratitude into your daily breath practice is a twofer! You get the benefits of slowing your breath into a mindful place AND you get to bring more positivity into your life: Bonus, you’re gonna feel good, too. 

This week, take 5 minutes to do box breathing, adding in these words of gratitude:

Inhale – I receive gratitude

Hold – I hold gratitude

Exhale – I offer gratitude

Hold – I am gratitude. 

Let me know how it goes! I’m always interested in how little acts of positive change hugely affect your life.