Most of us have known grateful people, as well as people who are less than grateful for the things in their lives. Meeting those polar personalities can make you wonder what daily habits make grateful in the first place? It also might make you think “How can I avoid a lack of gratitude?” No one wants to be bitter, angry, resentful or lonely, but a pattern of negative habits is what creates that type of personality.
The good news is that we can unlearn bad habits and replace them with good ones so that we are more grateful for the things we have each day. Let’s look at some of the positive behaviors that you can start incorporating to avoid an “attitude of ungratitude”.
These Habits, Practiced Often Can Make You A More Grateful Person
A habit is something that you repeatedly spend time doing, and breaking them can be hard. It is easier to add another new habit than to eliminate a bad one so start right away building habits of gratitude. Eventually, old negative habits will go away as they are replaced by the good feelings that grateful habits give you.
Remind yourself that you are responsible for your own happiness
You are only a victim if you let yourself be victimized. If you are in a situation that makes you unhappy, recognize that you have the power to move, act, and stand up for yourself. Say to yourself ‘If I am unhappy, I can choose to go away from this person or situation.’
If you choose to stay with someone who makes you unhappy or in a place that makes you unhappy, you have decided that this is what is best for you right now. Deciding that not acting is what is best for you is like saying that you are grateful for the experience of knowing what you dislike, so that you know better what you do like and can choose to find more of that in the future.
Turn your vulnerability into strength
We all have strengths and weaknesses about our personalities. Of course we want to build on our strengths and learn from our weaknesses, but realize what a gift your vulnerabilities are.
Admit your faults to others and ask for help to improve on them. Let them see that you are not perfect, but that you know how to use your imperfections to become a better person. You would never blame someone else for your flaws, because without them you wouldn’t be the complete person who you are today.
Make meaningful connections with people
Gratitude is an attitude of being thankful for the life experiences that you have received and the lessons learned form them. Sharing these experiences with others helps us to solidify the lessons we have received as well as to hear the life lessons that others have received.
Researchers studying gratitude found that it was associated with positive mood, good social connections, well-being, and spiritual connectedness. Brene Brown says ‘I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’
Spend time with those who are suffering
A hospital, a homeless shelter, a community food bank; there are opportunities for you to experience what it is like to live with far less than you now have and everything that should make you grateful. Seeing the disparity between what you have and what others live without is one way to avoid the habits that make people ungrateful.
Write down what you are grateful for
Researchers looked at the effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being. They found that a conscious focus on blessings by writing them down may have emotional and interpersonal benefits. Participants were told ‘There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful about. Think back over the past week and write down on the lines below up to five things in your life that you are grateful or thankful for.
Participants in the study gave the following examples of gratitude-inducing experiences:
* waking up this morning
* the generosity of friends
* to God for giving me determination
* for wonderful parents
* to the Lord for just another day
* to the Rolling Stones
As another example of how you might do this at home, the author’s successful sister keeps a gratitude jar on her counter and makes a habit of writing several things she is grateful for each day on slips of paper. The jar is opened at the next New Year’s Day and she spends time celebrating the previous year’s blessings.