How to cultivate gratitude when life seems so chaotic

Gratitude is not just a virtue; it is a powerful tool that has the potential to transform our lives. I can go on and on about how when you begin to cultivate gratitude, you’ll live a happier life, have better relationships, have better mental and physical health, and a list of many other positive effects from simply looking at everything around you with appreciation.

Are we being grateful enough?

Telling someone to “be more grateful” or “have gratitude” makes them feel they have not been doing enough to be grateful.

The intention of this article is not to make anyone feel bad for not experiencing or being grateful enough. Most of us feel sincere gratitude for the people we love and know regularly.

A survey on Gratitude conducted by the Templeton Foundation discovered that “In America, 90% of people describe themselves as grateful for their family, and 87% are similarly grateful for their closest friends.”

I also know you have experienced insurmountable times of gratitude in your life. From being thankful your car did not break down during a snowstorm on the highway to feeling so grateful for sitting in your favorite cozy chair drinking a hot cup of tea after three days of non-stop grueling travel.

The reality of how often we feel gratitude.

In addition, the Foundation also found a significant gap: "Only 52 percent of women and 44 percent of men express gratitude on a regular basis.”

Daily, we are programmed to focus on ourselves: we might compare ourselves to others, become preoccupied with past regrets and worries, or merely fixate on anything, positive or negative, that has nothing to do with the present moment.

In a world where we often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily routines and internal stories, it is easy to overlook the simple things that bring us joy and enrich our lives.

By cultivating a grateful mindset, we can appreciate the abundance surrounding us and shift our focus toward the positive aspects of life.

Cultivate gratitude, image of woman with hand on her heart.

The steps to cultivate gratitude.

There are many steps you can take to cultivate gratitude. Start a gratitude journal, express gratitude to others more often, surround yourself with grateful people, or volunteer within your community. All these things are great and will purposefully put you in a present state.

There are more profound steps to take if you truly want to live a life full of joy. With time and lots of practice, you will become closer to feeling thankful in every moment.

Practicing Mindfulness:

The first step is to recognize and become aware of your negative thoughts. When you see they are no longer serving you, and they are an illusion, you can begin breaking them down and dissolving their power. Everyone’s journey is different; if negative thoughts continually bring up painful emotions, this is when you have to realize there is trauma deep inside your subconscious that needs to be healed.

Practice being in the present moment:

The second step is to work on experiencing life in the present moment as often as you can. When we live in the present, we’re usually not thinking about the past or future.

Here are some ways you can do this.

  • Mediate and focus on your breath:
    Acknowledge the thoughts that come up with compassion and bring your attention back to your breath.

    Sitting in silence and just observing your surroundings. Find all the details from objects in the room to the shape of the building to how the light falls on the subject. Experience things with all your senses. How does it look, sound, feel, and taste? Please don’t taste a stapler in your office, though; that may be weird.

  • Observe your relationship to everything:
    The next thing to practice is to notice that we have a relationship with all things, not just other humans. We have a relationship with our morning coffee, the coffee maker, and the pitcher we used to pour the water into it. It could also be our relationship with our work or businesses and our ideals for it in the future.

    When we can step outside of ourselves and see how we relate to everything, we have a greater appreciation for what it does for us and the experience it gives us. We can be in a loving relationship with everything and everyone we encounter.

See every obstacle or stressor as part of the journey:

Lastly, this is the most difficult to accomplish: to see every struggle we encounter as a message to self-correct. Situations will always arise that challenge us emotionally. How quickly we can move through this situation for the better is based on how we react to these experiences. If we fall into a spiral of self-pity, we are not responding logically to the situation. The goal is to move out of victimization quickly and put on your problem-solving hat. Thank these negative emotions for telling you to see the situation differently.

Responding this way to every obstacle gets easier to handle. Eventually, you’ll be grateful for every test you encounter that moves you in the right direction.

How does being continually grateful relate to your personal brand?

One of the results of becoming present and grateful to all things around us is we become truly authentic.

A powerful personal brand emanates from anyone who is secure in their own skin and knows exactly what they are moving towards.

Leave a comment below if you've tried other ways to cultivate gratitude in your life. 

If you need help and clarity defining your personal brand I’m here to help. You can schedule a free strategy session with me and I can give you the first steps to move your brand in the right direction.