Leading with GRATITUDE, Part II: 5 Tips & Tools to Make Happiness a Habit

In my previous blog, I wrote about the importance of leading with gratitude. If you’re a fellow future-chaser, it may be especially difficult–but not impossible–to live in and appreciate the now. Practicing gratitude can have immediate benefits like a better mood, and long-term effects like improved mental and physical health.

Below are a few of my favorite tools to help you get started in your practice. Stay positive, keep an open mind, and do what works best for you on your gratitude journey. 

Positive Self Talk

Instead of picking up your phone for the daily doom-scroll, hop out of bed and get in front of the mirror. While looking at yourself (which may feel strange at first), say a few things you’re grateful for within and around you. Remember, they can be big or small, personal or professional. Take the time to breathe into each one. This positive practice will set you up for the rest of your awesome day. 

Gratitude Journaling

Writing stimulates several key parts of your brain and may help you access different, more intense emotions. Whether you use a gratitude journal or a blank sheet of paper, write down what you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. Then immediately read them back to yourself. Pause and feel every line before moving on to the next one. 

Each week, go back and read what you’ve written. It can be a powerful reminder, especially if you’re having a challenging season, of how much goodness there truly is in your life.

Mindfulness Meditation

Find a quiet space with minimal distractions where you can be still mentally and physically. Close your eyes and focus on the amazing things around you and in your life–the sunrise, your family, your best friend. Appreciate what makes you uniquely you–your work ethic, your wonderful singing, your sarcasm. Smile at how far you’ve come on your personal and professional journey. Be present.

Don’t know where to start? There’s an app for that. Get a free trial of Calm or Headspace to get started and find out if that’s the right route for you. Each has options for instructor-led meditation or gentle music and sounds for self-guided meditations.

Don’t think you have time? Try it during a brainless activity or whenever you can find peace–in the shower, while brushing your teeth, during your meals, as soon as you wake up, or as you drift off to sleep. Start with 30 seconds, extend to a few minutes, and make it a goal (you’re great at making those) to get to 30 minutes daily. 

Thank You Notes

This one’s an oldie but goodie that benefits you and the people around you. Make it a habit to write notes or emails expressing your thanks for the folks that have a positive impact on your life and/or work. And don’t just do it after completing a big milestone; do it just because. You never know what other people are going through. A simple gesture could mean the world. For me, bringing others a little joy brings me joy. It just feels good.

Bonus: every once in a while, try writing a thank you note to yourself. Gratitude looks so good on you. 

Gratitude Can Be Magical, but It Doesn’t Happen Overnight

You may think you need to be successful or happy to be grateful. In reality, practicing gratitude can make you happy. It helps you appreciate what’s happening now when all you can see is what’s next. It grounds you in what’s amazing today, so you can create tomorrow of your dreams. Or, you may just find that you’re already living it. 

Give yourself grace as you start this journey. It’s easier for some, but for others, it may require more time and a mental shift. It’s precious, and it takes practice. When done consistently, you can make gratitude a habit and, eventually, a mindset. 

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