An Attitude of Gratitude –
How Being Grateful Can Help You Become a Positive Thinker
Gratitude is defined as an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. This appreciation can be for anything from people and relationships to material things as well. Humility is defined as the quality or state of not thinking you are better than others. To be humble is to be modest, not proud or arrogant. Positive Thinking is the technique of changing your mental attitude by fostering optimism and expecting good results. Basically, positive thinking is creating thoughts that will transform energy into reality. All three of these terms intertwine with each other. To be grateful is to humble one’s self. To think positively you must practice gratitude and humility.
In the beginning of my journey to changing the way my mind worked, these ideals were completely foreign and confusing to me. This is why I defined them. I needed to know exactly what each of these terms meant in order to begin implicating them in my own life. To live and think positively, just like anything else, takes some practice. Anyone can make the decision to change their thinking from negative to positive but it does require some work.
It’s very easy to dwell on all the bad things that are going on in your life, rather than focusing on the things that are good. Living this way will ultimately make things worse. Dwelling on the negative things will result in more negativity. Negative thoughts and emotions can close off your brain to anything that is good or positive around you. Basically, focusing on negativity keeps your brain engrossed with anger, fear, and stress. Also, Negative thoughts produce negative feelings which affects a person’s mood and behaviors. Living in negativity will only lead to failure, disappointment and constant frustration.
In order to enhance your life, negative thoughts have to go. It seems like an easy concept, however change doesn’t always come easy. To rid your mind of negative thinking you must retrain your mind to start thinking positively. The mind is very powerful. If you begin to think positively on a regular basis, you will start to feel better emotionally and physically, and ultimately your life will change for the better.
The first key to training your mind to think positively is to adopt an attitude of gratitude. This will help open your eyes to all the good things you have in your life. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the author of “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier”, there are three stages in practicing gratitude. First, recognize what it is you are grateful for, then acknowledge it, and lastly, appreciate it. Practicing gratitude can have a huge impact on your life, especially when it comes to training your brain in a positive way. Gratitude puts things into perspective, allowing you to see the good in every situation which will make it much more difficult for you to complain about things. It also helps you realize the things that you have and puts less focus on the things that you want.
The best way to practice gratitude is by making a “gratitude list”. This list can consist of anything and everything you are grateful for. When I made my very first gratitude list, I had to start off with the obvious things such as family, health, and being alive. The trick is to be as thorough as possible. Try not to list just family, actually list out the names of the family members you are grateful for. When I began my process, being grateful did not come natural to me. Working on this list helped my mind become aware of all the things that were good in my life, even the small things that I initially would not think of being grateful for. Something as simple as hot water or a bed to sleep in can really open a person’s eyes and help them realize that even though things may not be perfect, there are always things to be grateful for.
One fundamental quality of a person practicing gratitude is to be humble. As said earlier, to be grateful is to humble one’s self. People who are proud are completely wrapped up in themselves and think little of others. People who practice humility are modest and show empathy towards others. Just like being grateful, being humble did not come easily to me at first. It is another skill that with practice becomes more natural over time. The more grateful you become, the easier it is to have humility. When you humble yourself it enables you to be more thankful. Ultimately, both gratitude and humility go hand in hand with each other and learning to be grateful and humble are key assets in changing your mind to think positively.
Expressing gratitude and humility increases optimism and empathy. Optimism, which is ultimately positive thinking, helps people cope with their problems. In order to think positively and optimistically, you must identify positive emotions. Three key factors to having positive emotions are being content with your past, being happy in your present, and being hopeful for your future. To achieve positive thoughts in these three areas, one must express gratitude.
Being content with your past may be hard for some people. However, you must remember that even in the darkest of days you can find something to be grateful for. For me, this was the hardest part of my process. For me to become content with my past, I became grateful for two major things. First, I’m grateful to be alive, and I am grateful to have survived and made it through the hard times.
To be happy in your present life is all about being grateful. If you constantly focus on your gratitude, you will always be aware of the good things in your life and therefore you will be able to be happy and positive. To ensure this happiness and positive thinking, continuing reading and adding to your gratitude list on a daily basis. When you read your gratitude list daily, it keeps everything you are grateful for fresh in your mind. When you add to it, it keeps yourself humble by always appreciating at least one thing in your life every day.
Once you have become content with your past, happy with your present, and are practicing gratitude and humility, you will start to notice that your mind is thinking more positively. When your mind is thinking positively you will be filled with hope and when you are hopeful in the present, being hopeful about your future will soon come easily as well.
Positive and negative thinking are both contagious. People tend to gravitate towards the positive and optimistic people, rather than hang around people who are constantly negative. Gratitude strengthens relationships between people because the more grateful you are, the more optimistic you will be, and being positive and optimistic attracts more good people into your life. Surrounding yourself with people who practice this way of thinking will help keep your spirit up and also help you learn how to train your own mind to think in the same positive ways.
Teaching your brain to stop thinking in a negative way and start practicing positive thinking will have a major effect on anyone’s life. Always remember that your mind is very powerful and if you fill it with positive thinking your life will change for the better.
A few more suggestion to keep your mind thinking positively are; mediation, writing, and time for yourself.
Meditation is another thing that you will become better at with practice. Start by downloading a meditation app onto your phone. I began by using an app called “Head Space”. This taught me the fundamentals of mediation practices which helps keep a clear, less stressed or cluttered mind. You can also try meditation guides that are found on Youtube.
Writing is another way to stay in positive thought. By writing, I don’t mean that you have to be a novelist or a professional writer. Get yourself a notebook or journal and start off writing at least one positive experience from your day. You can do this at night, where you can reflect on your day, or in the morning, where you can reflect on the day before. A study that was published in the Journal of Research in Personality, showed that people who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels and experienced fewer illnesses.
Having free time for yourself is also very important for positive thinking. Give yourself the time to relax and also use this free time to practice the principles of positive thinking. This can help you become more content, less stressed, and also allow you to explore what your mind can do when it is no longer thinking negatively. I try to give myself at least an hour a day to focus on me. Start by making your surrounding peaceful by lighting incents or candles. Then allow your mind to take you where you need to be, you know what you need better than anyone else. During this time you can meditate, write positive things, work on your gratitude list, or even just kick back and relax. Just make sure whatever you are doing, you do it with a positive, grateful and humble mindset.
Always remember that gratitude, humility, and positive thinking all come from practice, so please do not give up if it doesn’t come to you easily in the beginning. It took me a while to grasp all of these concepts, but in the end it is more than worth it. Thinking positively will only be beneficial to your life. You will become a happier, healthier, and more beautiful person inside and out.