Life Hack #5: How to appreciate the little things in life
So, what does it really mean when we talk about gratitude? And how does it benefit us in life?
Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence defines gratitude as “a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside yourself.”
Professor Robert Emmons researched over 1,000 people aged from 8 to 80 and found that those who practice gratitude consistently are more present, happier, and more optimistic. The best thing that comes with gratitude is joy. And living in the moment feels so damn good.
Pursuing these good vibes might even improve your health!
The positive emotions you experience when savoring life’s little joys could:
- improve heart health
- strengthen your immune system
- reduce pain and stress
- lead to a longer life
Practicing gratitude is easier said than done.
One thing that makes it hard to be genuinely grateful is the idea that we need to have more. More money, more stuff, bigger houses, and higher social status…The pursuit of “more” could feed to the feeling of “not enough.”
By paying attention to what you already have right now, your focus shifts from fear to joy. Learning to appreciate the present moment sparks joy and gratitude.
First, you have to notice the things we take for granted. Then we find ways to express our appreciation. And last, take action and make gratitude meaningful.
Here are some tips for learning to appreciate what do you have and being able to enjoy the little things.
Take time to slow down and breathe.
Regulating your breathing is the easiest way to ground you in the moment and relieve stress.
Strive to turn off the ‘comparative mind’.
If we compare ourselves to the lives of others, we can quickly lose our appreciation for what we have. If the voice of comparison pops up in your head, ask it to go away by focusing on what you do have, or by focusing on the moment – the smell of the car leather, the taste of your coffee. Sometimes making a list of the things you take for granted helps to focus you in on what you do have.
Start a gratitude jar
Put a clear glass jar or cup on the counter in plain sight. Whenever a negative thought arises, think of a positive thought. Write is down on a piece of paper and put it into the jar. Then when you’re having a negative or low moment, dig into the jar and pull out a gratitude quote. This act breaks the negative thought process and trains you to refocus on what is good in your life.
Take time to be grateful for the little things in life.
This means actively acknowledging the big effort it took to make one little thing. For instance, if you’re in a rush leaving the house in the morning and you grab a yogurt for breakfast, slow down and savour the yogurt, all the while thinking about everything involved in bringing you that breakfast; from the farm to the plate. This approach allows us to be grateful for things we take for granted. And it's easy to take things for granted, especially for basic things like the food we eat to the air we breathe. Another idea is to have a gratitude journal. Evey night before you go to bed write down 5 things you’re grateful for that day. It could be something you achieved at work, a compliment someone gave you, to a person in your life that gives you support.
Create a gratitude ritual or mantra to get yourself into a good and positive mind-set which leads to being able to enjoy the little things.
One of the mantras we love here at Nutrient Rescue is from Dr. Carla Marie Manly PhD. "May I ever be filled with gratitude. May I ever be filled with love. May I never take for granted a shared smile or a warm embrace. May I strive to give more than I receive. May I remember to focus on all that I have rather than what is not before me. May I live my days bathed in grateful love.”
Here are some of our favourite gratitude quotes.
Happiness does not lead to gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness.
– David Steindl-Rast
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
– Marcus Aurelius
Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.
– Barry Neil Kaufman