Think about the last time you felt like nothing was going right. How did that feel? Did you feel stuck? Were you overwhelmed with stress and exhaustion? These are common feelings when it seems as if nothing can go right.

The practice of gratitude

However, there is one solution you can incorporate that can change your entire perspective on any given situation—in one small practice. This is the practice of gratitude and being grateful. Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami have focused greatly on the power of gratitude. In one study that they conducted, they asked one set of participants to list various aspects of their lives that they are grateful for, another set was asked to write about aspects that were irritating to them, and finally, the third set was asked to write about aspects in their life that could be both positive or negative.

You encourage growth in a more positive mindset

At the end of the study, it was found that the set that wrote about things they were grateful for were found to feel much more positively overall about their life, than those in the other sets comparatively. While this may seem like a subjective experience, research has proven that practicing gratitude does, in fact, encourage growth in a more positive mindset. While it can be easy to say that one should practice being grateful, being in a mindset in which you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or tired can make it challenging to think about what you are grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

However, I am challenging you to choose at least one aspect of your life each day that you are grateful for. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Were you able to wake up in the morning and get out of bed?
  2. Was there any part of the day where you could feel fresh air?
  3. Did you have any meals that were tasty?
  4. Did you speak to anyone that offered you warmth and kindness?

The gratitude list

On my gratitude list that I add to at the end of each day, I sometimes write about the smallest aspect of my day that I am thankful for having experienced. For example, I added that I was grateful for my slippers. Another day I wrote that I was grateful for highlighters, because they come in handy when I am studying. Being grateful does not always need to include elaborate aspects of your life, but rather, focusing on the simplest aspects of your life can sometimes make all the difference.

To sum up

Focus on creating a gratitude list of things that you are grateful for. These lists can include the simplest aspects of your life—like a pen, or a pair of slippers—to incorporate a positive shift in your perspective. Focus on how you feel when you finish writing your gratitude list at the end of each day. Sometimes your list will be small, but it is writing it down—actualizing it—that makes the difference.