Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude, simply defined as the feeling of appreciation or thanks, is a powerful practice that goes beyond the utterance of words. Receiving wonderful news, such as a great score on an exam or good results from a medical test, can bring about a profound sense of gratitude that may be expressed silently or with outward exuberance. When people say “Thank you” in such cases, to whom are they really offering their thanks? Each person has their own answer.

With negative news proliferating the media, it can sometimes seem as if there is little to be happy about, let alone grateful. But the reality is there is always something to be grateful for, whether large or small. While it’s easier for most people to feel grateful when things are going well and “good” things are received, gratitude can also be applied to difficult situations and misfortune. One way to feel thankful for these experiences is to recognize what is learned from them. People that have overcome tragedies not only learn from the experience, but often gain strength and wisdom.

Being grateful for what we currently have is the best way to achieve the future we desire, as it brings contentment. Focusing on lessons learned, opportunities presented and good fortune generates positive emotions, while guilt, resentment, anger and criticism create blocks to our own success. So, how can gratitude be proactively integrated in one’s life? Here are some ideas for daily practices:

1. Write one to three things you are grateful for every day. As a challenge, try to think of a few new things each day.

2. Look in the mirror and be grateful for the person looking back at you. If judgments arise, let them go. Write down what you are grateful for about yourself.

3. Think of a difficult situation or a mistake made and be grateful for the lessons learned. Write down what you are grateful for.

4. Think of the people around you, both inspiring and challenging, and create a sense of gratitude for what you have received from them. Write down your insights.

5. Envision what you want in your future with as much detail as possible. Now write down what you are grateful for about that future in the present tense, as if you have it now.

Experiment with these ideas and choose one or two that resonate. Continue with those daily, and notice any changes they bring about over time. Creating a mindset of gratitude and appreciation is a foundation for lasting happiness.

Alan Rosen is a certified professional coach and founder of L7 Coaching. To learn more, call 617-320-1325 or visit

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