[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s easy to be grateful when things are going great, but the happiest and most grateful people are the way they are because their happiness and gratitude are not tied to circumstances. They remain happy and grateful in difficult times by avoiding things they know will erode the quality of their life.

Here are 5 things grateful people avoid doing to keep living their best life.

1 – They Don’t Complain Or Listen to Complainers

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou

Complaining and listening to complainers takes us out of the positive space of gratitude. What’s worse? It can impair the brain. Research shows that just 30-minutes of exposure to complaining and negativity can affect your ability to make good decisions.

It’s impossible to fathom a life without a little complaining from time to time because life can be tough, and there are plenty of frustrations along the way. A complaint or expression of frustration isn’t what hurts your practice of gratitude; it’s remaining in the negative space of constant complaining or listening to a complaint that is detrimental.

What We Can Do

Express your frustration and then take a small action to move yourself out of the negativity and into a positive and more grateful space.

2 – They Don’t Take The Little Things For Granted

“It’s human nature to start taking things for granted again when danger isn’t banging loudly on the door.” – David Hackworth

You know what they say, “it’s the little things that make life big.” Well, this is entirely true with the practice of gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just about focusing on the big things in our life. Instead, the most grateful people spend time focusing on the little things that bring a smile to their hearts.

Small things like a beautiful flower, a smile from a stranger or someone holding the door open have the power to elevate our gratitude practice when we appreciate it at that moment. Being mindful of all the tiny miracles that happen in our day, is truly at the center of gratitude.

What We Can Do

Spend time every day looking for moments in which to express gratitude. It has the power to change an average day into a spectacular one.

3 – They Don’t Expect a Perfect Life

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

We all know life isn’t perfect, and regardless of how grateful or happy we are, life can sometimes suck the joy right out of us. While we don’t expect a perfect life per se, why are we thrown for a loop when something unexpected happens? It always seems to catch us off guard.

Treating a challenge as if it were a problem takes us away from gratitude and puts us in a defensive position. When we spend time defending our grateful and happy life, we are moving further away from it by focusing on the problem. Be prepared for challenges to happen knowing you can handle it, because they will happen.

What We Can Do:

Stay in the present and become more proactive. Expect a challenge to test your gratitude and happiness. When it happens work through it focusing on all that there is to be grateful for knowing you will be a bit happier when you’re done.

4 – They Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Sleep

“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama

Sleep is probably the most undervalued and underutilized tool of living a more grateful life. We are a society that is sleep deprived. When we are tired, we become more emotional, more attached to drama and more prone to overreaction.

It is hard to be a truly grateful person when your emotional and physical health is not where it should be. Sleep heals and prepares our bodies to handle challenges, and it’s how we handle those challenges that affect our gratitude practice.

What We Can Do

Sleep. Establish a bedtime routine and honor sleep as a way of making gratitude a focus of your day. Sleep nourishes the soul, so you will awaken feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. And that is something to be grateful for.

5 – They Don’t Neglect the People That Matter – Including Themselves

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” – Anthony Robbins

Taking for granted the relationships we have with the people matter most, including ourselves, is detrimental to our gratitude practice. Think about it? Our relationships play an important role in who we are, where we are going and how we live our lives. If we neglect our relationships, we are neglecting our life.

It’s when we shift our focus from people onto things that we leave a grateful space for one that is not serving our authentic self. People should always be the focus.

What We Can Do

Pay attention to people, not things. Make people a priority by fostering the relationships that matter through regular communication and expressions of love and gratitude.

Elevating our gratitude practice only requires a commitment and constant focus on being grateful. It’s not rocket science, but it does take an effort to be present at the moment and to recognize these moments and their contribution to our day and your life.