#Blessed: Why Gratitude Really Is The Secret To Happiness And How To Achieve It

by Ana-Sophia Guerreiro

People say to count your blessings and practice gratitude every day.

It may seem cliché, but consistently reminding yourself for what you should be grateful really does have a positive effect on your physical and emotional health. Still, it’s hard to incorporate gratitude sessions into your daily routine; you likely can’t even come to accept the idea of “gratitude sessions.”

For an easier way to recognize all the good you have in your life, here are a few simple ways to stay aware without getting overwhelmed or feeling like a phony.

1. Take Care Of The Things You Have

Chances are, if you’re just starting out in the Big Bad Real World, you aren’t driving an S-Class. That’s okay. Be grateful for whatever wheels you do have and take pride in them. Maybe you’re rocking a 2002 Saturn that you’ve had since you were 17 (like this girl), or maybe you’re making monthly payments towards that adorable little Jetta. Regardless, you have a car.

Maybe you have a bike, or maybe you're able to walk places. Whatever your mode of transportation, be nice to it, be respectful of it and be grateful for it. All that you currently have makes life a little bit better, even if you’re constantly working to improve it.

The same goes for the people in your life. It is incredibly easy for “maintain relationships” to get lost on your to-do list, but in the end, it’s that task that deserves your most attention and effort. Nurture your existing relationships – whether they are romantic, family or friendships; they all matter and they all need your attention.

2. Modify Your Mind

Your mindset has a huge impact on how you feel, whether you believe it or not. If you perceive something to be an unsolvable problem, you’re less likely to try to find a solution. If you decide to treat your so-called problems as challenges, solutions will suddenly become more apparent.

Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic, for example. Traffic is the worst (especially in LA), but you don’t have to let it ruin your mood. You now have an opportunity to call your mom, your dad, or your friend from home with whom you haven’t spoken in weeks. You could also use this time to catch up on that obscure comedy podcast you've been wanting to tune in to, or even to simply listen to the news.

For circumstances out of your control, keep your mindset and attitude in check. Always look for ways to use challenges to your advantage.

Truly modifying your mindset starts with a routine; decide on a time of day and block out a few minutes to root yourself in positive intention. It sounds like a bunch of new-age nonsense, I know, but I dare you to do it daily and not feel like a better version of yourself.

Pick a mantra. Repeat it silently or out loud a few times, breathe deeply and decide that you will embrace the day’s obstacles without turning into a negative Nancy.

3. Do The Write Thing

A gratitude journal or some version of it (#100happydays is a great visual alternative) is in the arsenal of most generally happy people I know.

By physically documenting the good things in your life, you’ll have a resource for when the world seems to be crumbling around you -- when the office grouch is bullying you, when you get your third parking ticket in a month, or when you can’t figure out what the hell you’re doing with your life.

It’s simple: Write down three things for which you’re grateful each day, such as people in your life, foods you really love (I'm lookin' at you, Chipotle), accessibility to the Internet and fresh-running water. You’ll be shocked to see, right in front of you, how much you actually have to be grateful for in your life.

Of course, there will always be negative aspects of life, and self-pity is part of the human experience; it happens. However, you should not allow yourself to fall down its slippery slope and let it become your default frame of mind.

Acknowledge any sh*tty situation that may arise and then refocus your energy on all of the good you have in your life as you move forward.

Miserable people become as they are because somewhere along the line, they decided to focus more on what they don’t have than on what they do have. It's a choice. Be conscious of that.

Realize now that you have just read an article, on a computer screen, via the Internet, and that most of the world cannot do this. Roll your eyes if you must, but most of us are luckier in life than we know. Why not start living like we know it?

Photo via We Heart It