We could all do with being a little bit more grateful in our lives, but it can be hard when we’re stuck at home. Here’s nine ways you can approach gratitude in your life right now, at home.
What is Gratitude?
You might think you know what gratitude is, however, the customary definition isn’t all that useful. Centring entirely around the one-note phrase “thank you”, it’s hard to appreciate the full scope of gratitude through such limited means. We’re raised that gratitude is a simple show of politeness reflecting someone else’s kindness towards you.
It’s so much more than that. Gratitude supercharges empathy, letting you appreciate things in even the darkest moments of your life, allowing you to look beyond your own problems and trivial issues and start seeing the real opportunities and power in your life. Effectively, what gratitude gives you is perspective on your life.
We’re all trapped in our own little mental worlds. This is how we become self-absorbed, unable to adapt, inflexible, selfish and worst of all, lonely. Gratitude pulls you out of that toxic space and forces you to engage with the world around you in a positive, meaningful way.
How Gratitude is a Superpower
It’s pretty simple. In a world where more and more people are completely absorbed by their own narratives, ideas and opinions, simply pulling away from yourself and thinking about what you owe the world in a real sense is an extremely powerful thing. There’s no getting around it, existing only in your own skull is a fast track to nowhere.
Gratitude will see you being more aware of others around you, more aware of yourself and your needs. It’ll see you becoming better at seeing useful, supportive people in your life and help you to remove the toxic ones.
There’s no better trick when it comes to building a grateful outlook on life than simply making sure to meditate every morning. View gratitude as simply being perspective on your own life. Realism, in its most positive form. It’s hard to formulate that kind of positive perspective without a little push in the right direction.
Habitually meditating can absolutely be that little push. Forcing yourself to sit down for five minutes, clear your head and dwell a little on the nature of gratitude and its purpose in your life is always going to be something useful that you can do, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
What Do I Owe?
This is an interesting way to look at life. Even if you think you’re an island, owing nobody anything, chances are that you will be benefitting from some kindness, luck, thoughtfulness and generosity. Very few of us don’t benefit from the world around us. Even being alive and healthy is a huge benefit.
View this as a debt to the world around you, to be a force for good in people’s lives, to achieve something that means something to you and to be happy, and you’ll feel righteousness in your own life that is invaluable.
How Much Worse Could Things Be
If you want an exercise to promote gratitude within your life, look no further than simply thinking about how much worse things could be. At every turn, something bad could happen, or something good could fail to happen. These things could happen to your or loved ones and friends. If you’re sat there thinking “woe is me, what is there to be grateful for in my life”, just take a second and think about how much worse things could be.
Force yourself to have some perspective on your problems. Yes, it’s no fun being dumped by your partner or losing your job, but there’s far worse problems to have. Even at the extreme ends, things can always get worse.
This is definitely a morbid way to look at gratitude, however, that’s not to say it doesn’t have merit. There’s real value in being aware of how much worse things could be. Once you’re aware of a dark potential outcome or possibility, it loses the advantage of surprise. You’ll always have that minimum base of knowledge, and that’s always going to be a valuable thing when it comes to dealing with life. That’s on top of the very real gratitude it can inspire.
How Can I Utilise Today Properly
When you look up, sit back and realise that already, you’ve wasted several hours of the day, it becomes extremely easy to become dispirited and disheartened. Everyone thinks in terms of what they want to do today. In reality, it’s not about what you’re going to get done today, but rather, what you’re going to get done this year.
This is the way you need to be viewing things. As humans, we’re always overestimating what we can get done in a day, while massively underestimating what we can do in a year. You need to view everything as part of what you want to get done in a year.
You need to be thinking about your overall plan.
Generally speaking, burning yourself out by trying to do fifteen different things every single day is never going to be an effective route to getting much done at all. It works for a day or two, but very quickly, it all falls apart. Plan to get a reasonable amount done each day, remembering that any amount of work starts with small steps. Then think about what you want to get done this month, then this year. Stick to it, you’ll get lots done. Gratitude will help here too!
Do Something Kind Without Being Found Out
This is always going to be a solid exercise in generosity, gratitude and general decency. In today’s social media world, it becomes far too easy for decency to be performative. People are publicly nice and privately selfish. This might sound like an easy way to live your life, but it’ll quickly infect and spoil your relationships, and anyone worth knowing will see it in you.
Learn to let that decency and kindness run deeper in you. Make a point of doing one decent, kind or thoughtful thing every day for people around you and make sure you don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t tell anyone you’re doing this either. Just do it, while meditating on the things that everyone in your life has done for you. Build the right mindset and everything else becomes far more straightforward.
Establish a Meritocracy
One thing that’s true of some of the most successful people in history is that they understood how to establish a meritocracy around them. Genghis Khan, for instance, understood that he needed the humility to see potential, loyalty and usefulness in even the lowliest soldier around him, at one point promoting a captured enemy Mongolian to general simply for having shot the Khan’s horse out from under him during a battle. Instead of being enraged at the other person’s threat to his person, he utilised their skills in his employ, promoting and encouraging hard work and loyalty around him.
Now I understand fully that the people reading this probably aren’t conquering warlords. However, being able to see potential, loyalty and skill in people around you is always going to be a hugely useful thing, as is seeing toxicity. This is exactly how people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have succeeded. Don’t let your own ego and hubris get in the way of seeing people clearly around you. Gratitude lends the clarity you need to establish your own meritocratic circle.
Live Your Day Plan
Now I’ve mentioned all the little things that you want to be doing every single day, it’s time to start putting them into action. Make sure you meditate a little in the morning. Do something kind for people around you. Start feeling and embracing gratitude and letting it direct your ethos, motivation, mood and interactions.
Make a Month Plan
Whether it relates directly to gratitude or not, simply having a plan can be a hugely reassuring and helpful thing, especially when we’re stuck at home. Come up with a plan for the month ahead, go easy on yourself, make it achievable and put some focus on gratitude and the things you really want to be achieving.
Make a Year Plan
Lastly, you need to be thinking about where you want to be in a year. From the perspective of in yourself, in your family and your social life. You can’t only focus on your career, romantic life or a hobby. It needs to be overall, and it’s a good idea to incorporate some elements of gratitude. Building a long-term, actionable plan that breaks down to individual months and days is always going to be the most powerful way to affect change in your life.
Also useful is the app, Analyze.Life. Providing helpful tips, gratitude, happiness and mood tracking and other elements to help you on your journey, it’s well worth a quick download.