I'm not a naturally thankful person. I have to consciously work to have and express gratitude. Here are some of the ways I've learned how to be more grateful.
In 1936, Dale Carnegie published his famous self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. His advice, “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain,” is one of the keys to cultivating a grateful heart. After all, we can’t be practicing an attitude of gratitude if we’re criticizing, condemning, or complaining.
“Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.”
– Dale Carnegie
One of my mentors took this a step further, with what he calls the “6 C’s.”
The first time I heard this, I felt so convicted.
I was doing all of these.
It was no wonder I was miserable!
How could I overcome my weaknesses and create a more joyful life?
The action items are simple, but not easy.
You see, I was harsh and judgmental—a diehard critic with a potty mouth and knack for nagging.
But I didn’t want to be this way. I’d just developed some bad habits.
To overcome this, I implemented two habits that radically changed my life.
Developing an attitude of gratitude meant focusing on what I was grateful for, not on whatever was annoying me. This meant:
My biggest trigger was other people, specifically, my husband.
For example, “Ugh, I can’t believe my husband left a mess in the kitchen. I can’t believe how inconsiderate he is!”
^^^ This was a common complaint. It was often internal, but sometimes verbally expressed as well!
You can see how these kinds of thoughts could be detrimental to my relationship, let alone to my wellbeing. Or, you might be thinking about how the dirty kitchen is a valid complaint. Sure it is, but is complaining about it going to solve the problem? Probably not. Is cleaning the kitchen while stewing in my bitterness and resentment going to solve the problem? I’ll have a clean kitchen, but no, I’ll still be [even more] miserable.
You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself.
If I asked nicely, my husband would clean the kitchen. But the kitchen being dirty wasn’t the issue. The issue was how I responded to it.
Recognizing when I was having a negative thought/complaint was the first step to cultivating gratitude. The challenge came in finding at least three positive thoughts to replace it!
Things to be grateful for…
Things I appreciate about my husband…
Why was this so hard???
It took practice, but “Why does he have to be so messy/inconsiderate?” became:
With time, looking at a dirty kitchen no longer aggravated me. Instead, I cleaned up with a grateful heart, knowing that I had a good man, who *maybe* didn’t have cleanliness as a strong suit.
In addition to finding things to be grateful for, it was important for me to express my gratitude, especially to other people. This meant saying “thank you” more and letting people know how much I valued them.
Expressing gratitude is especially helpful whenever I find myself falling into a self-pity party. I challenge myself to thank as many people as I can. It can be in small ways, such as sending a text, making a phone call, or sending a card in the mail. Or it can be in big ways, like cleaning the entire kitchen (rare), cooking a nice meal (medium-rare), or taking a friend out to dinner as a thank-you (well done!).
“Seeds of discouragement cannot take root in a grateful heart. Take time today to find at least one thing to be grateful for.”
– Joel Osteen
What I’ve found is that saying thank you and expressing gratitude means a lot to the other person. They are always so grateful to hear how I’m grateful!
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
There’s no doubt that peace, love, and happiness comes from having a grateful heart.
I've put all of these mindset tips plus many more of the BEST gratitude-building exercises in Mindset Makeover.
You’re just one week away from developing an attitude of gratitude if you commit to changing your mindset. Enroll in your Mindset Makeover to receive instant access to all 22 lessons plus the workbook.
In addition to impacting the lives of those around me, practicing gratitude has also done wonders for my mental health. It’s allowed me to see the beauty in life, focus on hope, and cultivate joy.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude not only shows other people how much we value them, but also how much we value ourselves.