Glass Creatures

The Gratitude Tutorial

How Thankfulness Can Improve Your Life

Woman showing gratitude.

We spend just one day a year giving thanks, but we have reasons to be thankful every single day. Unfortunately, bad things tend to grab our attention and allow the good things to slip by, unnoticed. Even when we notice something good, we tend to forget about it more quickly than we do the bad things.

That's the inspiration behind this tutorial. Using the tips below, you'll not only develop an attitude of gratitude for Thanksgiving, but you'll be well on your way to making gratefulness a habit. Why would you want to do that? Simple. Gratitude is a powerful tool for focusing the mind on the positive, and positive people draw positive outcomes.

Begin by keeping a gratitude journal. Don't write down negative things; only positive ones. For example:

"I'm grateful that I made it through rush hour safely."

"I'm grateful that I got to see a beautiful sunset."

"I'm grateful that I have a class at school that I really like."

Think of all the good things that happened because something bad happened first. For example:

"If that slow driver hadn't pulled in front of me, I'd have gotten a speeding ticket."

"If I hadn't tripped on the playground, I would never have met such a nice person."

"If I hadn't been laid off, I would never have gotten a better job."

Don't focus on what you don't have. Focus on what you do have. For example:

"I'm so fortunate to have a warm place to sleep."

"I'm so fortunate to live in a safe neighborhood."

"I'm so fortunate to have time to relax."

Think about people you've known that have made you thankful for their existence. They can be family, friends or simply people who have created things that you enjoy. Imagine how many other people there are who might be equally as wonderful. You just haven't met them yet!

Think about people who have made life hard for you. Now think about the things you accomplished because of them. Did you finish something because they said that you couldn't? Did you get better at something because they made fun of you when you did it badly? Did their cruel actions make you vow never to treat others that way? Even the negative forces in your life can be hidden blessings, worthy of thankfulness.

Think about the animals that have given you joy: Dogs that love you with every inch of their hearts, cats that think your lap is the best place to nap in the whole world, birds whose songs uplift your spirit, squirrels whose antics put a grin on your face and so on.

Think about the places that make you smile: A favorite hangout, a wooded trail, an exciting city, a great spot from which to view the sky, a hill that you once rolled down. Give thanks for all these things.

Create your own opportunities for gratitude. Do you know someone who never seems happy? Be ready with a smile and a kind word each time you see them. It may require patience, but eventually, they'll smile first when they see you. Your interactions with them will be much more pleasant. Guess what? You'll have a new reason to be thankful!

Let others know when they've done something that you're thankful for. For example:

"I'll never forget how you stuck up for me. It meant a lot."

"That email you sent really made my day."

"You make shopping here a pleasure."

An attitude of gratitude spreads like ripples from a tossed pebble, benefitting all that it touches.

Remember that hard times make good times sweeter. Obstacles and challenges not only make you stronger, but force you to explore outside of your comfort zone. Without challenges, there can be no progress. Without obstacles, there can be no achievement. Be thankful for the opportunities that they provide.

Now pass it on. True gratitude leads to action. Lend a hand. Pitch in. Listen. Even small things like a friendly greeting can make a difference. And in the process of paying it forward, you'll discover more reasons to give thanks!