Do you constantly feel dissatisfied with life?
Some days you’re happy, but most days you feel like everything sucks.
You wish you had a better job or more money. You wish you were fitter or better looking. You wish you were in love or had better relationships.
I certainly used to feel this way too.
I had a roof over my head, enough money to live on, a loving family and great friends, but all I noticed were the things that were missing from my life. And so I constantly felt unhappy and dissatisfied.
I got so sick and tired of feeling deprived that I decided to regularly practice gratitude for what I did have.
How to Strengthen Your Gratitude Muscle
Once I started practicing gratitude daily, I learned to keep my desires in check, I was more effective in dealing with challenges when they came, and I was happier and emotionally healthier. I’d strengthened my gratitude muscle.
Want to strengthen your gratitude muscle too? Use the following eight steps:
1) Know Your “Why”
One of the greatest pitfalls with gratitude is that we often think it requires no intentional practice and effort. But developing the gratitude habit requires more initial effort than we might realize.
Before beginning your new gratitude regimen, keep the benefits of practicing gratitude front and center to keep you motivated.
Most people who want to build their physical muscles are typically motivated by the following benefits – looking good, feeling great, and improving health. The promised benefits keep them going during the tougher days.
The practice of gratitude also has its benefits. Studies have linked the practice of gratitude with benefits in health and well-being. In his book Gratitude Works, prominent gratitude researcher Dr. Robert Emmons cites numerous benefits from practicing gratitude:
- Increased energy
- Enthusiasm and happiness
- Success in achieving personal goals
- Resilience and better stress coping mechanisms
- Increased feelings of self-confidence and self-worth
- Improved relationships
Need more convincing? In short, gratitude matters for many reasons. Write this list down. Prominently display it in your “gratitude gym.” You’ll need it for those inevitably tough days.
2) Be Consistent
There’s no shortcut to building physical muscles. It requires daily commitment to a specific set of routines. The key to results is consistency.
The same is true for developing gratitude. In the past, I appreciated the value of gratitude in my life, but I was not truly committed to making it a daily part of my life. Gratitude would flow naturally during the peak moments of my life but dry up on normal or bad days. I knew I needed to practice gratitude on a consistent basis for better results.
You can begin certain routines to developing gratitude. Some of the more popular ones are the following:
- Gratitude journaling
- Meditation or prayer
- Writing thank-you letters
- Noticing the small things that make our lives better
- Remembering our mortality
Whatever method, or mix of methods you choose, their effectiveness will depend on your commitment to doing them every day.
Fortunately, many of these routines can take as little as five minutes a day. If you could derive significant benefit from just five minutes of exercise a day, you’d jump at the opportunity, right?
So don’t pass up this opportunity to enhance multiple areas of your life by developing a simple gratitude routine – and sticking to it.
3) Watch Your Diet
A good exercise routine is only part of the equation for building muscle. You also need to develop a diet that will give you the fuel and building blocks you need for strength training and keep you away from foods that will undermine your efforts.
To strengthen your gratitude muscle, you must watch what you take in – on the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Maintaining gratitude is hard if you’re constantly surrounded by toxic people or negative environments.
Jim Rohn famously said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Take some time to examine who those people are. Are they grateful people, or are they whiners, naysayers, victims, or materialists? Take this a step further and examine the books you read, the websites you visit, or the shows you watch.
To build gratitude into your life, you must feed your mind and spirit with experiences that are positive and uplifting.
4) Watch Your Language
When you’re pushing yourself physically, your inner game is crucial to success.
This is also true for those grueling gratitude workouts. Does the language you use affirm the blessings you enjoy or make you feel like a victim?
Michael Hyatt makes the important observation that we often speak about things as obligations rather than privileges. He said this:
“‘I have to’ is the language of burden or duty. ‘I get to’ is the language of privilege. It’s the difference between being grateful for something and resenting it.”
How many times have you said, “I have to go to work”? Making the small shift to “I get to go to work” completely changes your attitude toward an essential thing that allows you to provide for yourself and your family.
Start noticing the language you use every day, make small tweaks, and watch your gratitude levels rise.
5) Get Enough Sleep
Getting proper rest is crucial for allowing your muscles to repair and rebuild themselves.
Sleep also allows us to recharge mentally and emotionally. Being grateful when you’re tired and irritable is difficult.
In the past, whenever I got little sleep, the little annoyances of life easily angered me. And those I love the most often bore the brunt of my anger and irritability.
Among the many critical benefits of sleep, studies now suggest that adequate sleep helps you feel more gratitude for your relationships.
Once I resolved to get more sleep, I stopped taking my loved ones for granted, and my relationships improved significantly.
Want to increase your gratitude and improve your relationships? Start taking your sleep seriously.
6) Push Beyond Your Limits
A time comes in every workout routine when you’ve got to push yourself beyond your physical and mental limits. Think you can only do 20 pushups? That 21st pushup will take as much effort as the first 20. But it’s in the very act of pushing your physical boundaries that causes muscle development.
In your gratitude workout, pushing the boundaries means expressing gratitude during difficult circumstances. Viktor Frankl said, “Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.” These are powerful words coming from a man who endured the brutality of Auschwitz.
The following are some practical examples of how you can choose gratitude in tough times:
- Be grateful for the lessons that come from failure.
- Express gratitude for new doors of opportunity that often open when you face a job loss.
- Be grateful for a difficult person in your life who helped you grow spiritually.
- Remember with thankfulness the memories of times spent with a recently deceased loved one.
None of these are easy, but they can be done with practice. This is truly one of the greatest gifts of gratitude – it allows us to find meaning in difficult circumstances that ultimately allows us to endure them.
7) Find A Coach or Accountability Partner
Let’s face it; even with the best of intentions sometimes, you may need a little help to stick to your workout goals.
If you want to take your gratitude training to the next level, you might want to hire a personal development coach. A great coach can help you develop practical and personalized strategies for helping you become more grateful. An even greater benefit is having an expert as an accountability partner to help keep you on track.
If you’re looking for accountability on the cheap, try finding a gratitude workout buddy. This can be a spouse or a close friend. Ask them to join you on your journey to greater gratitude. You’ll both benefit from the arrangement.
8) Celebrate the Small Wins
Working out is hard, and you need to celebrate those small wins along the way to keep you going. Did one more bicep curl than you did yesterday? Celebrate that small win.
Woke up more days this week feeling grateful? Celebrate that too. You might say you’re feeling grateful for your gratitude.
However you decide to measure success, don’t pass up any opportunity to recognize, honor, and celebrate it.
It’s Time To Get In Shape
The numerous and significant benefits of regularly practicing gratitude are simply too compelling to ignore.
Now that you have a plan for getting that gratitude muscle into shape, nothing’s preventing you from experiencing these benefits too.
Start your gratitude workout today. Commit to doing it every day.
You’ll be happier.
You’ll be healthier.
And you’ll have better relationships.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get moving.