23 Simple Ways to be a More Grateful Person

Nov 15, 2018 | by The Salvation Army

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us! Yet behind all the beautiful harvest tablescapes and media messages of gratitude and thankfulness, many of us go to bed each night wishing we had more—a nicer car, more exciting relatives, a bigger home, a more important job, extra money. So instead of being grateful for what we already have, we complain to our husbands and wives, grumble when a coworker gets the promotion we wish we’d landed, and envy our friends and our neighbors.

If that sounds like you, we have some good news. Your dissatisfaction can go away starting today—and it doesn't require you to find a new job or buy a cooler car. Instead, it’s time to take some simple steps to become a more grateful person.

Why Cultivate Gratitude?

In the words of Melody Beattie, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Science confirms that practicing thankfulness can change your life. In fact, grateful people experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Changing your perspective to focus on what you do have (versus fixating on what you’re lacking) is one of the simplest ways to feel happier and healthier. So, here are some simple, practical ways that you can be a more grateful person long after the turkey leftovers are gone.

23 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude

1. Say “thank you” for gestures big and small.

2. View a negative situation from a glass-half-full perspective.

3. Surround yourself with thankful friends.

4. Limit social media usage or “unfollow” people who bring your self-worth down.

5. Write 1-2 things you’re grateful for every day. Review the list when you’re feeling particularly ungrateful or unhappy.

6. Act grateful toward others. While you don’t want to seem “fake,” acting grateful can inspire true feelings of gratitude, especially when your peers respond in kind.

7. Fill your home with visuals of all that you’re grateful for, such as photos of friends and family or memorabilia from special vacations and trips.

8. Volunteer at a local organization to remind yourself of all that you already have.

9. Set helpful gratitude reminders. If you complain about your car frequently, consider placing a Post-It on the dashboard saying, “I am grateful to own a car; not everyone has one.”

10. Give back to others.

11. Don’t complain for a day. Complaints spread like wildfire, and often create an atmosphere in which everyone joins in with their own gossip or negativity. Going complaint-free one day a week can make a huge impact on your happiness.

12. Tell a friend or family member why you’re thankful for them.

13. Take stock in your current situation and focus specifically on the positive steps you’ve taken to arrive at this place in life.

14. Do something nice for someone else. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our list of 25 easy ways to impact someone’s life for good.

15. Teach your children about gratitude and describe 3-5 things or people that you are particularly grateful for.

16. Don’t brush off a compliment. Instead, offer a genuine “thank you” and hold your head a little higher.

17. Take a gratitude walk to get some fresh air and practice mindfulness.

18. Avoid music, movies, or media that leave you feeling unworthy or less than enough.

19. Recall a time when you felt lucky.

20. Write a letter to a friend or mentor who helped you in some way.

21. Look for the silver lining in negative situations.

22. Find an inspiring quote about the benefits of gratitude, and make it your phone background or screensaver.

23. Focus on something you’re looking forward to doing or enjoying.

Here at The Salvation Army, we are beyond thankful for the wonderful employees, volunteers, and donors who give their hard-earned time and money to make sure that others have food on the table, a place to lay their head at night, or emotional support during hard times. If you would like to make a difference in the Bay Area and reach thousands of local families who struggle to make ends meet, please consider donating or joining us as a volunteer. Your support makes all the difference.

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