In my last post I mentioned the benefits of gratitude. The positive attitude and happiness that result from gratitude will make you more popular. In this post, I want to list ways to apply the benefits of gratitude so you can benefit from it.
List What You Are Grateful For
Studies have shown that simply listing a few things you are grateful for on a daily basis can make you happier. It really is that simple. You don’t have to keep an elaborate gratitude journal (although you may want to). Just jotting down a few people, events, or things you are grateful for will have this effect. You can even just say them to yourself if you want.
You don’t have to list huge, life-altering things. The key to living a life of gratitude is to be grateful for everything good in your life, including the small things. Believe it or not, I often list “Rooster’s Boneless Wings” on my daily list. It sounds weird, but I really am thankful for those great-tasting wings. Some days may be more difficult than others, but as you begin to find things, it will get easier.
You could probably list a hundred things a day (being alive counts) if you had to. Some ideas might be “football season is starting (or ending!),” “I got an ‘A’ on my exam,” “my girlfriend” and so forth.
Speak Some Gratitude When It Gets Rough
We all have tough days. Maybe you got dumped or failed a test. When this happens, and you sense the start of a downward spiral into anger, depression, or sadness, say five things you are thankful for out loud. Go to the bathroom, or hide in the back of the room, and just speak them quietly. Say them when nobody is looking. This is a perspective-changer. It will immediately shift your perspective back to a positive one, and prevent you from going into a negative place where you don’t want to go.
List Gratitude for People and Things That You May Not Like
If we really want to become happier, then we have to change our perspective on everything. I am not saying you have to like everybody, but let’s be honest, everybody has good traits. One way to really see the power of gratitude is to find something you are thankful for about people you may not like. It could be the school bully, your know-it-all brother, or the principal. You still may think the bully is a jerk or the principal is unfair, but at the very least you will begin to feel a little empathy for them and see them in a more positive light. Remember, if you want to be popular, you even want to win over the principal and the know-it-alls! Besides, maybe the bully has done some good things for people, and maybe the principal really does want the best for you. Maybe your know-it-all brother has helped you study.
Express Your Gratitude
Expressing gratitude can be challenging, especially for teens. It wasn’t until I was around 21 or 22 that I remember suddenly feeling appreciation for what I had in life. It is difficult to say and show “thank you” to people, especially those we are close to. It is important to express your gratitude even if you think your family, friends, and teachers “just know” you are grateful for what they do. Trust me, parents, teachers, and other similar people love it when you say “thanks.”
Saying “thank you” is a great start, but all of us feel more appreciated when people acknowledge our work and talents. One way to do this is to acknowledge your thanks and express the specific thing the other person did to deserve your gratitude.
For example, a teacher may have helped you with a project. You can say “thanks for helping me do this project. Your knowledge and help were amazing.” As a teacher, I can tell you that a “thanks” now and then is appreciated, even if I know my students appreciate what I do. You can thank your friends the same way. Don’t get all sappy or sentimental, just tell people in a straightforward way you appreciate them!
Let me briefly address telling people close to you that you are thankful for them. For some reason, this is very hard, especially for teens. I don’t know why; maybe it is because it is popular to be “hard” and “edgy.” It is easy to thank strangers, but hard to thank close family and friends. Nonetheless, it is important to let your parents, family, etc, that you are grateful for them. Trust me, parents will love it. Most parents deeply care about their kids, even if they screw up sometimes (or a lot). Parents and other authority figures are human too and love to get a pat on the back occasionally. Be that person! Give them a pat on the back. The same applies to you as a child and student. Teachers and parents should recognize that you too work your butt off and do a lot for them. I tell me students I am thankful for them and their effort a lot. I want them to know that their work, some of which they don’t always like to do, means a lot to me. Just don’t do it in a way that sounds like you are kissing too much butt. Make it sincere and genuine.
So, today, try to express a little more gratitude. Be more grateful. Look at life differently. You will be more positive and happy, and that will make you more popular with friends, family, adults, and even potential dates.