You may hear people use the phrase “an attitude of gratitude” all the time, but still wonder what it is. The good news is you don’t need to go to the doctor and get a prescription for it.
In this post, we’ll look at what it is, the science behind gratitude, feeling thankful in tough times, how to add it to your morning routine, how to use a gratitude journal, and how to use quotes about being appreciative.
It’s a lot of information and tips packed into one post, but you can bookmark it for future reference as a guide to increasing gratitude and reaping the benefits.
Now, let’s move on to talking about what an attitude of gratitude is.
What Is an Attitude of Gratitude?
The good news here is that the concept isn’t complicated. An attitude of gratitude is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
It’s when you develop the ability to spend most of your time feeling grateful for things in your life and abandon the constant need to complain and be critical of everything.
According to Merriam-Webster, gratitude is the state of being grateful, which, in other words, means thankfulness.
Some other words you can use in this context are appreciation, appreciativeness, gratefulness, thankfulness, and thanks.
If you’re thankful for something in your life, such as your family, friends, where you live, or your home, you are expressing gratitude.
However, it can also extend to things that aren’t as obvious. For example, you may be grateful it rained because the grass and trees in the yard were getting dry.
Or, you may appreciate your nosey neighbor because they noticed your dog escaped the yard when you weren’t looking.
It isn’t always the most obvious thing that we can be grateful for; sometimes, we can see the silver lining in things that don’t appear to be beneficial on the surface.
It’s well known today that having a positive outlook is good for mental health and attracts more positivity into your life.
The problem is it sounds like an easy concept, but often human nature will get in the way of us maintaining a thankful outlook consistently enough to benefit.
Important Note: Gratitude is not effective and powerful if it involves comparing your situation to other people’s. Try to resist the urge to only feel grateful in comparison to someone else’s misery.
Here are 10 ways you can ramp up your thankfulness:
1. Connect with a Gratitude Buddy
A “gratitude buddy” might be just what you need to keep you accountable for having a thankful frame of mind. How you connect can take many forms:
- Send each other a daily or weekly message.
- Talk in person or by phone.
- Share journal entries.
- Inspire each other with ideas.
It doesn’t matter how you connect as long as you do it consistently and hold each other accountable to the aim of the exercise.
Ideally, you want your buddy to be someone you’re comfortable with, but is also someone who will challenge you to meet your goals and take the exercise seriously.
And, don’t be afraid to step away or change partners if you feel it isn’t working for you. It will backfire if you feel uncomfortable or experience negative energy.
2. Develop a Mindfulness Practice
A mindfulness practice is the best way to create the space where positive feelings reside, and that includes being thankful.
If you don’t have a practice in place, there are many ways to get started:
- Put your full attention on daily activities like washing dishes.
- Spend some time sitting in silence each day.
- Take a walk in nature and focus on your surroundings.
- Eat slowly and mindfully, paying attention to flavors and textures.
- Follow online or recorded guided meditations.
Whatever works for you is most important. Just carve out time to develop your mindfulness practice and create space for joy and gratitude to enter your life.
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Journals are popular for all kinds of enrichment activities. A gratitude journal is an excellent way to develop a routine and stay accountable to practicing thankfulness.
If you want, you can buy a gratitude journal that is designed to help you with the process. But it isn’t necessary to shell out extra money if you feel like creating your own.
Just get a notebook and develop your style of record keeping. You should always go with whatever resonates with you.
4. Have a Gratitude Session
Gratitude “sessions” are an excellent way to shift your mindset from complaining to being appreciative. Schedule yourself a time to sit down and focus on all the things you’re thankful for.
Be creative. And, don’t limit yourself to big, life-changing events. Even the smallest things will get your gratitude muscle working.
This is a wonderful activity for families or groups. Take turns going around the room and naming things that you appreciate. It builds positive energy and relationships.
5. Make a Gratitude Pact with Yourself
An excellent way to harness the power of intention is to make a pact with yourself. You can say it out loud or write down an oath and sign it. But make a promise to yourself that you’ll be more grateful.
This is an example of acting on your intention. In this instance, you’re a creator. By speaking what you intend and acting, you cause the shift to take place.
6. Develop Grateful Language and Actions
You’ve heard the expression “fake it, ’til you make it.” Well, you can do that by shifting your thinking toward gratitude, too.
According to Success.com, there is science behind faking gratitude to produce the feeling of being thankful. So, get to it and include those actions and thoughts in your daily life.
Offer praise to others, say thank-you for everything, and remind yourself of all the wonderful things in your life. Before you know it, feeling grateful will be second nature.
7. Give of Yourself
One way to increase feelings of gratitude is to give of yourself. There’s nothing like helping someone else to promote good feelings of thankfulness and love.
You can do this in many ways. Volunteering is always a good option. But you can also help a neighbor or friend, or give to a charity.
This doesn’t have to be a huge event. Look around your circle of friends or the neighborhood and find ways to share the burden. Sometimes it only requires a smile and a kind word.
8. Increase Your Happiness and Joy
Increasing feelings of happiness is a good way to kick start your feelings of gratitude. So, the main thing to do here is to find things that make you joyful.
Try to spend time each day, no matter how little, doing things that bring you feelings of joy and happiness.
This will work to increase your positive feelings and attract more of the same into your life. Hobbies are an excellent way to lighten your mood and enter the present moment.
9. Stretch Your Gratitude Muscle
What does it mean to stretch your gratitude muscle? Well, exactly that. Look at things in your life that you think you could never be grateful for.
Then, try to find something about them that you can appreciate. You’ll be amazed at how this exercise will increase your ability to be thankful.
This can apply to people, things, or situations. The point is seeing things with a different point of view so that the outlook changes.
This is a powerful way to shift your mindset.
10. Be Grateful for You
This tip goes without saying. But it bears repeating because we often need to hear it again.
Don’t forget to be grateful for you.
YOU are your best friend, ally, coach, mentor, and fan. Make sure you know that each day. Don’t take yourself for granted.
The outside world will often encourage us to be our harshest critics, judges, and enemies. Never let that happen. Cultivate an attitude of being thankful for everything about yourself and lavish love on your being.
These tips can help you get that attitude of gratitude revved up and functioning well. Choose the things that work for you and your circumstances and use them consistently for the best results.
Next, let’s look at the science that confirms the benefits of feeling thankful.
The Science Behind Gratitude
According to Harvard Medical School, there is research supporting that being thankful can have a positive effect on happiness, relationships, overall well-being, outlook, and fewer visits to the doctor.
They also showed that an increase in the happiness score of some individuals in studies could last up to a month.
This information also includes a three-prong approach to gratitude in that we can be thankful for past events and things, appreciative of what is happening in the present, or feel a sense of hope and optimism for the future.
According to Psychology Today, acting grateful, even if you aren’t feeling it, stimulates two key areas of the brain:
The hypothalamus, which is the region that regulates stress, and the ventral tegmental area, which is significant in the brain’s reward system, producing feelings of pleasure.
There are real physical effects of acting grateful.
They also report that you can indeed “fake it until you make it,” and smiling for no obvious reason can produce the desired effect, too.
This would explain why your mood can change so quickly after you’ve bumped into a friend and shared a chat and some smiles.
So, as you can see, there’s science to back up the benefits of simply saying “thank-you.” Gratitude is an important part of our culture that is celebrated and encouraged for a reason.
Even if you don’t feel it at first, say it anyway, and notice yourself doing so. Pretty soon, you’ll feel it with deep meaning and happiness.
Up next, we’ll look at the challenging subject of feeling thankful in tough times.
How to Feel Gratitude During Tough Times
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well. Who doesn’t feel thankful for the pay raise, new home, or a relaxing vacation?
But do you struggle with how to be grateful when things are bad? Can you muster up some appreciation when you have a chronic illness, debt, or relationship problems?
Use the 3 actionable tips below to be thankful when things appear dismal. But first, let’s talk about why having grateful feelings can help to change your situation.
How Can Being Grateful Change Your Situation?
The reason that feeling appreciative can help to bring positive changes to your circumstances is that feelings, and particularly gratitude, are foundational to increasing positivity.
When you experience powerful positive emotions, you’ll be more likely to take positive steps forward and do things to improve your circumstances. It’s the basis for the adage, “like attracts like.”
And, according to Thrive Global, gratitude makes you happier, boosts your immune system, improves your relationships, and makes you more productive.
So when you feel down and times seem bad, engage one or more of these suggestions to change your outlook and situation for the better.
1. Find That One Bright Spark
One of the most powerful things you can do when times are rough is to find that one bright spot each day and milk it for all it’s worth.
What does that mean?
It means to find that one thing that you can authentically feel grateful for and give it all of your attention.
It might be the rays of the sun on the bed that feel warm and comforting. Or it might be the slight increase in energy as you drag yourself up to let the dog out. Or the dog itself might bring you moments of joy and comfort.
It doesn’t matter what it is. Just grab it and hold on to it for as long as you can. The more often you do this, the better things will seem, and the more positive your outlook will become.
Experiencing the feeling will affect you on all levels for the better: emotionally, mentally, and physically. Give it time and look for the results over time.
What You Can Do:
Find one thing that you have a genuine appreciation for and focus on it. Feel it as much as possible. Do it, talk about it, write it down, or take a photo. And it’s a bonus if you can find more than one thing.
2. Take Positive Action
Another excellent way to boost feelings of gratitude when you’re down is to take positive action on something that will improve things for your situation.
And it doesn’t matter how small the action is. It’s the feeling that counts. This activity can have a snowball effect because it motivates you to do other positive things.
Some suggestions could include:
- Plan your meals for the week.
- Make your bed or tidy the bedroom.
- Contact a friend.
- Clean out a bookshelf.
- Take a short walk with the dog.
- Do a load of laundry.
- Start a good book you’ve wanted to read.
Just do that one thing. And then, apply tip number one to it. Make it a focus of gratitude that you were able to get it done. The positive results will inspire you to try other things.
What You Can Do:
Act on something that will help your situation. It doesn’t matter how small. Just do it and bask in the feeling of being grateful you did it.
3. Help Someone Else
When times are tough, you can shift yourself out of the pity party feeling by reaching out to someone else and helping them in their need.
You don’t have to join a missionary trip overseas, but you can find things that might be a help to someone else.
There are plenty of charities and organizations that will accept whatever you can offer. This behavior will shift your thoughts away from your circumstances and help you see the bigger picture.
Those good feelings are positive fuel for positive changes. You’re raising your energy levels and attracting good things into your own life.
What You Can Do:
Find a way to help someone else. Don’t analyze it or judge it for being small. Just do it and feel the shift in your perspective. Hold on to the feelings of gratitude it produces.
If you’re going through tough times, and you can’t seem to muster any feelings of thankfulness, try these tips to shift your outlook and then your circumstances.
Next, we’ll give you tips to start your day on a grateful note for more positivity.
How to Add Gratitude to Your Morning Routine
Want to know how to set yourself up for the kind of day you feel good about? Just add gratitude to your morning routine.
And, the beauty is you don’t have to actually feel grateful for this to work. You just need to add some gratitude activities early in the day, and the feelings take care of themselves.
Do You Have a Morning Routine?
The next important thing to address is whether you have a morning routine to add in gratitude. In other words, do you allow extra time in the morning to do things that will bring more positivity to your day?
These could be things like a mindfulness activity, yoga, reading inspiring quotes, or just taking time to sit and reflect on how you want the day to go.
Or, do you get up at the last minute, hoping everything will fall into place? Then race around trying to make sure you and the family are ready for the day, and herd everyone out the door at the last minute.
Taking the time to get up a few minutes earlier to at least fit in a gratitude activity is worth the time. It might seem harder if you’re a night owl, but you’ll still benefit.
How to Add Gratitude to Your Morning Routine
If you’re wanting some suggestions for gratitude activities to use in the morning, we’ll cover that in the next section. First, we need to discuss how you can add them to your schedule.
Adding gratitude to your morning routine is as simple as finding a few extra minutes. It could be getting up a bit earlier and having that time to yourself.
Or, it could mean doing an activity as a family before everyone heads out for the day. You can even fit something in during your commute, depending on if you need to do the driving or not.
And, if it just can’t work at the very start of the day, you can do something during your morning coffee break, especially if that’s a time you find yourself alone.
However and whenever you can fit in time to do a gratitude activity is going to be a positive thing, so don’t fret over the timing. Some people actually prefer to add it to the end of the day or do both morning and evening.
The truly important thing is that you work thankfulness into your day as much as possible and let it do its magic.
5 Gratitude Activities for Your Morning Routine
So now we come to the meat of the matter. What are some examples of gratitude activities you can add to your morning routine?
And remember, these are suggestions. You can add your own or tweak ideas to suit your preferences. Find what works for you for the best results.
Use these 5 gratitude activities to get positivity flowing in your day:
1. A Gratitude Journal
One of the most popular approaches to increasing gratefulness is to write down things you’re grateful for in a journal or notebook.
It doesn’t take long, and it can be adjusted to suit your personal style. Three items for the list is a common suggestion, but that’s up to you. It can be jot notes or a more detailed entry. You can write it or draw images.
Using a journal is an excellent activity at any point in the day. Some people prefer to use it in the evening to reflect on the day gone by. You could do both if it suits you.
2. Talk to Yourself
This one may sound a bit out there, but it’s beneficial.
When you’re doing your morning bathroom routine, take a few minutes to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself what you appreciate about yourself.
This may feel a bit awkward or cringy at first, but it’s a powerful exercise that can give you a boost for the day ahead.
You don’t need to live for the praise or compliments of other people. You can and should be your biggest champion.
3. A Family Gratitude Brainstorm
If you find yourself pressed for time in the morning with a busy family, try adding in a family gratitude brainstorm.
This just takes a couple of minutes. You could even fit it in during the drive to school or on the way out the door while everyone gets coats and shoes on.
Get each person to name one or two things that they appreciate in their life. It’s as simple as that. And for kids, short and sweet works better.
4. Read Gratitude Quotes
Take a few minutes to read some gratitude quotes before you start the day. You can get a book of daily quotes or do an online search for sites that have them.
(We cover using gratitudes quotes in more detail farther along in the guide.)
This doesn’t need to take long and can change your mood instantly as the words of wisdom resonate with your inner self.
You can even turn this into a family activity, too. Keep a book near the front door and pause to read a quote on the way out.
If you travel with the children, ask them their thoughts about it on the way. But don’t make it a lecture or lesson that turns them off. It could have the opposite effect. Keep it light.
5. Tell Someone You Appreciate Them
Start the day right for you and someone else by telling them you appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be an over the top thing. You can simply tell them you appreciate something they’ve done or something you like about them.
If you live alone, send a quick text or email, connect on social media, or make a call if it isn’t too early. Just reach out and remind someone they matter to you. It’ll benefit you both and set a good tone for the day.
As you can see, none of the gratitude activities need to take a long time, and can easily fit into your morning routine. Tweak them to suit your schedule, and you’ll reap the benefits of a change in mindset for a better day.
In the next section, we cover in more detail how to use a gratitude journal.
What is A Daily Gratitude Journal Used for?
Daily gratitude journals have become a popular way to bring the practice of being thankful to the forefront of your life.
What Is a Daily Gratitude Journal?
A gratitude journal is like any journal or daily log, except the focus is on keeping a record of things you’re thankful for in your life.
You can buy a pre-made gratitude journal or just use a notebook to jot down a list of things you appreciate on a regular schedule.
It’s often recommended to make a list of three things at the end of each day, but some people do it weekly, too.
The point is to become more aware of the things in your life that you can feel grateful for and to reflect on them for a more positive outlook. It’s believed that this will improve overall well-being in many aspects of your life.
And, it doesn’t have to be a list. It can be one thing or ten, and you can write about them or doodle with images. Some people add mementos or objects that appeal to them, too. It’s meant to be personal and speak to your experience.
The Science Behind Using a Daily Gratitude Journal
Early research on keeping a gratitude journal reported that it improved psychological and physical functioning in the participants.
It also showed increased happiness and a more generous nature. And, the benefits of expressing gratitude could be seen in children, as well as adults.
And so, there is a scientific basis for using a gratitude journal to improve your mood and increase positivity in your life, with potential benefits for your mental and physical health.
How to Use a Daily Gratitude Journal
There is some controversy as to whether you should use a gratitude journal on a daily or weekly basis. Research has not been conclusive about which is best.
However, there was a study that reported positive results from recording three things you’re grateful for at the end of each day.
It’s also reported to be better if you spend a little time thinking or writing about why you’re grateful for the items on your list.
You could try your own experiment to determine which is best for your needs. Alternate doing the entries on a weekly and daily basis to see which improves your mood and feelings of well-being.
6 Tips for Practicing Daily Gratitude with a Journal
Here are 6 tips that may help you get into the habit of using your gratitude journal with regularity:
1. Choose a Journal that Inspires You
Spend some time choosing a journal that you’ll look forward to using each day. For some people, this means buying a pre-made journal that is filled with prompts and motivational images.
For others, it means simply choosing a notebook that you want to use.
Think about your preferences for things like size (if you plan to carry it), blank or lined pages, prompts or freestyle, and the design and materials.
Also consider if you prefer to use a pen, a pencil, or colored tools to create images or designs to express your feelings.
3. Choose a Suitable Time and Place
To get into the habit of using your gratitude journal regularly, choose a time and place that you can access each day, without interruption.
It may be directly after your evening meal or at bedtime. Just make sure that it’s a time that will work most of the time, so you develop the habit of making the entries each day.
On the other hand, you might prefer to carry the journal with you during the day and jot in notes whenever something occurs to you. The important thing is to use it in a way that works for you.
4. Be Flexible with Your Entries
Regularity is an important aspect of keeping a gratitude journal, but you don’t want it to become a dreaded chore because that would defeat the purpose.
Time of day and daily application might be important, but don’t hold yourself to the number of items or how you record them. If you feel like adding only one or going higher than three, go for it.
Likewise, if you don’t feel like using words, draw or doodle your entry. Be creative and do what works for you, so that doing the thinking stays consistent.
5. Go Small, Big, or Challenging
Mix up the things you record. They don’t always have to be the big things in life like family and jobs. You could appreciate the color of your new shoes or the way the leaves are dancing on the sidewalk in the wind.
Likewise, try a difficult concept occasionally, to stretch your gratitude muscle. Recall something you don’t like and find one thing about it to be thankful for.
This is a powerful exercise that can change your mindset and broaden your perspective.
6. Daily Gratitude Journal Prompts
Some people prefer to have prompts to inspire what they record in their journals. Ideas could include:
- The people I’m grateful for are…
- 3 things I’m grateful for are…
- I’m thankful that this happened today…
- In the past, I’m glad that…
- Things I appreciate about where I live are…
- 3 things I appreciate about my physical form are…
- I’m grateful for these things that keep me healthy…
- These things made me smile today…
If you do an online search for “gratitude journal prompts,” you’ll turn up dozens of sites that have lists to get you going.
A gratitude journal is used to create positivity and reflection on the things we sometimes take for granted in the rush of daily living.
Focusing on the things in our lives that make us smile, laugh, or just feel good is an excellent way to become more centered in the present moment.
In this final section, we’ll add the bonus of some quotes about gratitude and give you tips for using them.
How to Use Quotes about Gratitude
Quotes are popular for a reason. People are motivated and inspired by the wise words of others, especially if it resonates deeply with them.
Here are some examples, suggestions for places to find quotes, and 7 tips to use gratitude quotes to develop your attitude of gratitude.
5 Examples of Gratitude Quotes
Before we get into the tips, let’s look at some examples of gratitude quotes you can use.
1. Roy T. Bennett Quote (Book: The Light in the Heart)
“Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more.” ― Roy T. Bennett
In this quote, Bennett highlights a profound truth. If you can’t be grateful for things you already have in your life, you’ll always be striving, and never satisfied. It’s a recipe for discontent.
2. Alphonse Karr Quote (Book: A Tour Round My Garden)
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”― Alphonse Karr
So much of what we experience in life is dependent on how we view the world. Karr’s simple analogy of how you see a rose bush sums it up. It’s related to the well-known adage of do you see the glass as half full or half empty.
3. Oprah Winfrey Quote
“True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience.'”― Oprah Winfrey
Oprah highlights a powerful appreciation exercise for changing your mindset. If you can see something to be grateful for in something you dislike, you’ll enter a place of profound peace and creative energy.
4. A.A. Milne Quote (Book: Winnie-the-Pooh)
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”― A.A. Milne
Through Piglet, Milne makes a valid observation. There isn’t a limit to how much gratitude you can feel or how much you can cultivate in your life. It’s infinite.
5. Eckhart Tolle Quote (Book: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose)
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”― Eckhart Tolle
Tolle emphasizes the need to be thankful for all that you already have because it sets the stage for all the abundance that flows in and through your life. It’s where you must start to attract more abundance.
These are examples of the type of gratitude quotes you can use to boost your appreciation for everything that makes up your life, not just what you perceive as worthy.
Where to Find Gratitude Quotes
The examples above probably won’t be enough to keep you going with the tips outlined below, so you’ll need ideas for where to find more gratitude quotes.
1. Websites for Quotes
If you do a search online for gratitude quotes, you’ll likely turn up dozens of places to find them, and many people include their favorite lists on their blogs.
2. Bookstores and Libraries
Bookstores and libraries are top places to find books that have collections of quotes. They are often laid out in a “daily” format.
3. Friends and Family
Books of quotes are popular, so you could check with friends and family to see if they have any copies in their bookshelves that you can borrow.
4. Receive for Gifts
When people ask you what you want for special occasions like your birthday, tell them a book of motivational quotes is what you’d love to receive. You can start your own library of favorite quotes and books.
Now, let’s see how you can use these quotes about gratitude to get inspired.
How to Use Quotes about Gratitude
There are many ways to use quotes about gratitude to develop a more thankful approach to living. These 7 tips will help you get started:
1. Enter Quotes in a Gratitude Journal
If you keep a gratitude journal or plan to start one, enter a gratitude quote each day as a prompt to get yourself focused. You can elaborate on the quote and how it relates to your personal experience.
2. Keep a Gratitude Jar
You can reuse an empty glass jar by filling it with quotes about gratitude written on bits of paper. You can add to it as you discover more that you like. Each day choose a paper from the jar and read the quote before you head out for the day.
3. Make a Gratitude Wall
Get a large cork bulletin board and pin your favorite gratitude sayings on it. If you’re crafty, you can decorate the board or make designs to go with the quotes. You could also attach mementos of special occasions or memories that you’re grateful for.
4. Post Gratitude Quotes Around the House
You can post sayings around the house to remind you to be appreciative throughout the day. Post-it notes are good for this, and you can use the fridge door, your workspace, the bathroom mirror, or any place you spend time during the day. You can also use erasable markers to write them on surfaces where it will wash off.
5. Share Your Favorite Quotes
With abundant technology at your fingertips, it’s easy to share the quotes you love. Post them on social media, send one in a text or email, or share them on your blog, if you have one.
6. Memorize Quotes
You might find it a bit like going back to school, but memorizing your favorite quotes is a terrific way to implant the idea in your mind and retain the lesson longer. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Just do it for one or two per week to start.
7. Research the Author
If a particular quote resonates with you on a deeper level, do some research about the author. You might find they have other teachings, books, or materials that you’ll enjoy exploring. You’ll build up a library of references and resources to support your learning.
Use this information for using quotes about thankfulness to surround yourself with good energy and saturate your life with positivity.
This Attitude of gratitude guide will help you increase abundance by appreciating what is already in your life and all around you each day.