At Thanksgiving, we often go around the table and discuss what we are thankful for. But don’t stop there. Expressing gratitude is an exercise that can dramatically improve your life if practiced regularly. It is all too easy to dwell on the problems in our lives, and far too often we overlook how lucky we really are.

There are many benefits to expressing gratitude on a regular basis. According to an article by Melinda Beck in the Wall Street Journal, people who often feel grateful are more energetic and optimistic. They are generally happier, sleep better, and are less likely to become depressed.

How can you teach yourself to be more grateful? Count your blessings, literally. Before you go to bed at night, think through all the events of the day and note what you are grateful for. Some people like to write down everything they feel gratitude toward, sometimes in a journal.

If you feel like you aren’t feeling particularly grateful, try to imagine your life without something you really value, like a spouse or a decent-paying job. Often the mental exercise of imaging your life without something you treasure can remind you of how lucky you are.

Notice opportunities where you can verbally thank others in your daily life. Say “thank you” genuinely. Make eye contact and smile. From the grocery cashier to the mail man, everyone likes to feel appreciated, even if they’re “just doing their job.” You’ll feel good and so will they.

To live a life filled with gratitude, you must give up keeping score about who returned your call or who helped you last. Instead, give to others unconditionally. Ask for nothing in return. Your rewards will come sooner or later, but what really matters is that you helped others. Be thankful that you were able to help someone. The gift that you most assuredly will receive will be the peace of mind that you did something good.

Emotions like self-pity and jealousy drag you down. Pursue emotions that elevate your mood. Do your best to replace them with happy thoughts and images of a life with purpose.

Gratitude differs from general optimism in that it forces you to think about others. We humans are incredibly self-absorbed creatures, and spend far more time thinking about ourselves than we do thinking about others. When you express gratitude, you will undoubtedly encourage others to do the same.

Marketers can uniquely position their brands as positive and energizing by telling uplifting stories about service and gratitude. The media is chock-full of negative messages and mean-spirited advertisers who send negative and sometimes hateful marketing messages. Consumers will gravitate to positive stories. Celebrate your commitment to doing good.

John Bradley Jackson
Entrepreneur, Professor, Author
Deja New Marketing
© Copyright 2012

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