Have you seen posts in your social feeds where your friend is writing about her #dailygratitude? Do you skip those posts or contemplate why she’s grateful?

We hear so much about developing an attitude of gratitude, but what, exactly, is gratitude? 

Gratitude is not feigning rosy optimism. Gratitude is the practice of embracing what we have, now. Through this practice, we cultivate genuine appreciation for what is. It lifts our spirits, deepens our relationships, and brings more joy and abundance. 

With gratitude, we can live life to its fullest and enjoy the present moment. Here are tips to practice gratitude and invite positivity in your life.

1. Be Intentional with Your Time

There is a time for everything. When it’s time to work, work hard and be productive. When it’s time to rest, chill and enjoy the downtime.

Be grateful for the work you have and thankful for the ability to get away and have fun, or as Italians say, “Dolce far niente,” or the sweetness of doing nothing.

You are not a machine. All work and no play will make you a dull person. Recognize you are a multi-faceted person with goals and desires.

You can achieve your goals with a balanced life, and perhaps less time on social media and all the negativity there.

2. Don’t Crave More Money

We all need money to survive, and we all want more than we have. I get it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But you can hurt yourself when negative, complaining money-thoughts consume your attention.

Notice when your mind is depressing you with its desire for more money. The best strategy to stop your mind from spiraling is to tune into present moment sensation. What does it feel like to breathe? What sounds can you hear (now that you’ve stopped tuning out sounds with incessant thinking)?

If you want more money, spiraling thoughts will get you nowhere. Start by becoming skilled in managing the money you have now.

Working with what you have is powerful gratitude. 

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3. Savor Your Food

Do you ever catch yourself eating without realizing it? When you’re so lost in thought that you can eat half your meal before checking back in… and half of your food is gone?

Thinking tunes out all present moment sensations: sounds, flavors, taste, smells. It is so easy to miss out on what is happening now. Naturally, the best way to silence those thoughts is to tune back in to present moment sensations. Enjoy your food!

What flavors are you experiencing? How is the texture? What does it sound like to chew your food? Enjoy the feeling of feeling full. 

Notice the wonderful experience that is eating. This is gratitude.

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4. Bask in the Vastness of Nature

Whether working at the office or stuck in traffic, our minds easily fill with negative self-talk. One way to break that pattern: Be in nature, or simply watch the clouds roll by.

Nature naturally draws your attention away from thoughts which is why it is such a popular mental-health recommendation. There is so much to see, hear, and smell. Notice grass rippling in the wind, the uniqueness of every tree, the infinite sky (you can literally look into infinity any time you want!)

Lose yourself in the moment, experience the peace, and let nature offer you a respite for your soul. This is gratitude. 

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5. Guard Your Thoughts

Unhappiness and discontentment can arise when we focus too much on what we don’t have or what we’re lacking in life. So, we need to monitor our thoughts.

Gratitude isn’t forcing feigned gratefulness. You can practice gratitude by having the intention to drop unnecessary thoughts.

When useless thoughts arise, pause and feel yourself breathe in and out. This is a great way to slow your thoughts in every situation. The more you do this, the better you will be at this kind of meditation.

As you slow down thoughts, you let things be as they are. Living in the present moment is the essence of gratitude.

Practicing daily gratitude may seem daunting, but it can be as simple as:

  • Be intentional with your time
  • Watch out for craving thoughts that make you feel like you don’t have enough
  • Tune back into present moment sensations (sounds and breathing) to silence thoughts.

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