It can be difficult to appreciate what you have in life and often too much time is spent hankering after what you don’t have, or what other people do.
But with gratitude comes joy and who doesn’t want to be happy? With some expert guidance and a few simple tips you too can learn to be more thankful and ultimately live a happier existence.
Gratitude has been scientifically shown to make people more joyful but also boost the immune system, so taking out some time to enjoy a moment of gratitude isn’t new age nonsense, it’s genuinely good for you.
William Penn said: “The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.”
Sarah Sparks agrees. The award-winning public speaker and executive coach appreciates life much more in her 50s than she ever did in her 30s when she had a high-paced, high-paid job.
“The power of gratitude is something we should all learn,” says Sarah who reinvented her career and became a mum in her late 40s. “If you start appreciating what you have got you automatically begin feeling better about yourself. Stress and anxiety depletes because you have already got a rich life. It may not be financially rich but you can have a very rich life.”
It can be so easy to flick through a magazine, Facebook or a program on the TV and think ‘why can’t I have that?’ but it’s not healthy. Health and wellness coach Lucy Blenkinsopp insists: “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and it’s true.
One of the issues is that we often compare ourselves to people who we see as having more than us. Instead try getting involved in a cause where people are truly less fortunate than you. You will hopefully beginning feeling a deeper appreciation for what you actually have.
Striving for absolute perfection can be exhausting, stressful and near on impossible and yet people beat themselves up in a bid to be so.
Lucy says: “Perfection is overrated. We are all imperfect living in an imperfect world. Being imperfect makes us part of humanity and for that we should be grateful. It is okay to not be okay.”
Nobody likes to hear you complain but everyone likes a compliment – including you. When you feel like you want to moan about something, switch it up by paying someone a compliment. Thank them for cooking you a lovely dinner or for making you smile. By cultivating an appreciation for others they’ll be included to repeat their actions.
Iyanla Vanzant had it right when she said: ”Gratitude is like a magnet; the more grateful you are, the more you will receive to be grateful for.”
It sounds simple but just sitting down and talking or writing down what you are grateful for can really open your eyes to what you have.
Pyschologist Emma Kenny taught her children kindness and gratitude from an early age with one very simple technique.
“I practice gratitude every single day,” says Emma. “My children are 14 and 16 now and we still do this. Before we go to bed I’ll ask them one thing they’re grateful for, one thing they struggled with but that we found useful that day. We have done that every day forever. I do it too.
“The reason is that it helps them to nurture the every day things that are so easy to ignore. Maybe the thing they were grateful for was a smile from someone they haven’t seen for a while or a kind word from a teacher. It could just be that they simply really enjoyed the spaghetti they had for their tea.
“In teaching them to notice the tiny things I’m teaching them that when they are in relationships to notice the importance of being nice to your partner or reassuring someone that their new haircut looks great.
“Practicing gratitude is really important in the big wide world.”