5 ways to Cultivate Gratitude

Last Thursday I woke up at 5.48 am with a strange thought in my head. “I’m so grateful that I met my husband.” Seriously, maybe you’re a saint and gratitude oozes out of your pores, but for me this was a first! So, I started thinking about it. Where did that come from?

I don’t want to bore you with the long version, but my husband coming into my life was something of a miracle. I was in my early 40s and I’d decided that I was probably going to be single for the rest of my life and that actually, that would be ok. There were lots of things I enjoyed about being single, and there are days when I miss some of them quite a bit, but there are other things that were less enjoyable. For example, while I was quite capable of making big decisions on my own, and I did, having someone to share those decisions with is way less stressful and more fun. I am a procrastinator when it comes to admin and DIY (bricolage) aka what I call “chores”, but my husband prefers to deal with things straight away, and actually enjoys DIY – bonus! The result is not only that he does some of the things that I don’t enjoy (and I do some things that he doesn’t), but also that some of his good habits have rubbed off on me: I’m not as bad a procrastinator as before. But before this becomes a nauseating blog-equivalent of an instagram-picture of marriage, let me get to the point I wanted to make about gratitude: Gratitude is rarely spontaneous, at least at first. It is something we cultivate.

Here are 5 ways to cultivate gratitude: Remember: We all start off grateful when something positive happens, and then we forget. We settle into a “new normal”, appreciate what we have a little less, and start looking at what we don’t have driving dissatisfaction. When things are tough, remember why you started on the journey you’re on, notice how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown, get specific about the things you’re grateful for. Recognise: Start to notice and look for things to be grateful for, however small. We’re usually very quick to notice someone doing something wrong, or making a mistake. What would happen if we noticed people doing something right? Yes, maybe it’s their job, but I can still be grateful that the people at my daughter’s childcare are so positive and that she loves being there. Relate: Say it out loud! Thank people, acknowledge them for who they are and what they bring, even if it’s not your “role” to do so. Tell positive stories about your life. This lifts your mood, reinforces your positive memories and encourages others. Reframe: When you’re feeling negative about someone or something, actively look for the positive, imagine the possibilities and reframe it. My husband sometimes irritates me when he insists on doing chores when I want him to sit down and relax, but boy am I grateful that I don’t have to nag him into getting stuff done that I don’t want to do. When I remember how grateful I am for that, my request to him to relax comes from a much more loving and less selfish place. Repeat: Keep going! Gratitude is a habit. We sow seeds, we water and we trim. You may not see the results straight away, but trust me it will bear fruit.

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