Inside: How identify what you are grateful for and start a gratitude practice.
While mowing last week, I was grumbling and grousing to myself about the fact that I have to mow. I do this every time I mow; gripe and complain to myself.
It’s my airing of grievances, if you will. I air all sorts of grievances in my mind while I mow. But also, my mowing time is when I get some of my best ideas. Like last week.
As I pushed the mower across the yard and grumbled to myself, I had a fleeting thought.
“What are you grateful for?
“Turn your grievances into gratitude.”
Do you sometimes have little conversations like this with yourself? Please tell me I’m not the only one.
So I started thinking about this concept; taking the things we grumble about and replacing those grumbles with feelings of gratitude by focusing on the things we should be grateful for.
Take the lawn mowing as an example.
I hate mowing. But I love my home. I’m grateful for my home. So although I detest mowing my lawn three (okay, two) times a week, I can reframe my thinking so that I can be grateful that I have a lawn to mow.
And then a funny thing happened. I didn’t feel quite so annoyed at having to mow the lawn. That little act of practicing gratitude and thinking about what I am grateful for, actually improved my attitude.
I started to wonder, what would happen if we made “turning our grievances into gratitude” a regular gratitude practice in our daily life?
How Do You View Your Life Situations? Are You Grateful?
Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person?
I naturally tend to see the glass a little less than half full, if I’m honest.
I don’t know if it’s by nature, nurture, or a combination of both, but I’m the kind of person that naturally frets and worries.
Practicing gratitude wasn’t something I did with purpose. I rarely stopped to think specifically about what I was grateful for in my life.
Growing up and in my early adult life, I would tend to hope for the best while expecting the worst. A therapist once told me I was “always waiting for the other shoe to fall.”
That really opened my eyes about how I was living. Soon after that, I began to work on changing my perspective. I’ve come a long way. But for me, practicing gratitude takes actual practice.
What Are Some of Your Grievances?
A few years ago, if you asked me about my grievances, I could probably rattle off a list a mile long. Even the most positive person can cite some of their irritations or annoyances. Because we’re all human.
Here are some of mine:
- For a long time, a big one for me was work satisfaction. Another was feeling overwhelmed about staying organized at home.
- My frustration with my weight gain after age 40 continues to annoy me.
- Finances cause me stress at times because I naturally worry about money. Always have.
- And so because these are things that nag at me, these are the things I end up complaining about.
What are some of yours?
Reframe Your “Grievances into Gratitude”
The thing about complaining is that the more we do it, the more problems we seem to have. Am I right? Have you ever noticed that the more you focus on the negative, the more negative seems to come your way?
Think about your last “bad morning.” Maybe you woke up late. Then you realized you had a stain on the blouse you planned to wear and nothing else is clean. You’re out of coffee because you haven’t had time to go to the store (and you NEED your coffee.)
Then traffic is horrible, of course, which makes you late for your meeting. Your client calls with a complaint. On and on and on. Ever had a day where the hits just keep on coming?
But now think about how you can reframe negative situations. Consider how you can take those situations and instead practice gratitude.
How to Reframe Your Thoughts into Thoughts of Gratitude
Let’s start with disliking your current work situation as an example. Let’s say you hate your job.
Reframe it: But I have a job.
That is something you can be grateful for.
Think about it. A lot of people are out there looking for work. They may not know how they are going to pay rent, the mortgage, the car payment, or even put food on the table.
When you think about that, you can find gratitude for the fact that you have a steady paycheck coming in. That realization alone can do wonders for your gratitude.
You may not love your job, but you can be grateful for what it provides.
Take the example of feeling overwhelmed at home:
Reframe it: I share this mess and sometimes messy life with people I love. Yes, it’s a lot to manage but I am grateful to share my life with them.
And yes, this is what I tell myself when I peek into my daughter’s room, which is horrendous. #truth
What about the weight issue, which I know many other midlife women can relate to?
Reframe it: I am healthy. I can choose to eat better. I can move. I can exercise. I am so much more than a number on the scale or my clothes size. I am ALIVE.
When you start reframing your frustrations into gratitude and focusing on positives, you’ll find that it shifts your mindset, your attitude, and even your heart.
Start asking yourself: What are you grateful for in these situations?
You’ll feel better. You’ll feel lighter. You’ll feel gratitude.
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Always Ask Yourself, “What Are You Grateful For?”
Try it now. I’m serious. Grab a notebook or use the notes on your phone. Jot down two or three frustrations or situations you tend to complain about.
Then think about how you can reframe that situation. Find a positive aspect of it. Or consider how you have the power to change the situation.
Write down what you are grateful for in that instance.
How Do You Feel?
Now notice how you feel. It might take a while to start feeling better. Gratitude is a practice. Some of us have to work at it more than others.
That’s okay. It will come. And it gets easier. Just keep working on reframing your thoughts when the frustrations and grievances pop up.
Some Quick Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
- Increases positivity
- Improves self-esteem
- Helps reduce stress
- Gives us hope
- Expands our empathy and kindness towards others
Practicing gratitude may not always come easy. There are a lot of things that can cause chaos and possibly steal your joy. Don’t let that happen.
When things upset you, remember to be intentional and ask yourself, “what are you grateful for?” It will change your outlook, I promise.
Looking for your own Gratitude Journal? Check out this Gratitude Journal on Amazon.