7 Ways to Improve Your Life With Gratitude

appreciation and gratitude

I am a big believer in using the power of gratitude to create positive changes. Being constantly aware of your many blessings, and feeling grateful for them, can have a huge impact on the quality of your life. When you are filled with appreciation, it quite literally changes the dynamic of your reality.

I find it truly amazing how one, simple, positive action can change so much in a person’s life. In fact, recognizing the profound power of gratitude is one of the things that have had a huge effect on my life. It has made me a more positive and caring person. It has also made me a better husband, father, and friend. I can honestly say that in some very tangible ways, gratitude has made my life better.

Harness the power of gratitude

Now you might not get the same exact benefits as I have, but I can pretty much guarantee that practicing gratitude and appreciation can change your life as well.  There’s no doubt in my mind that the simple act of being grateful on a regular basis will change your perception in very positive ways. How many other simple strategies do you know that can make such a claim?

Let’s take a look at some practical ways that you can start incorporating gratitude into your life so you can start enjoying the benefits immediately. Of course, these are just some examples based on my personal experience and the experiences of others I’ve talked with. Obviously, not all of them will apply to you, so just choose the ones that you feel comfortable with.

7 ways to improve your life with gratitude

1. Have a morning gratitude review. Make it a daily ritual to take one minute in the morning to think of all the people and things in your life that you are grateful for. You won’t get to everything in one minute’s time, but it’s enough to get you thinking in the right direction. A simple gratitude review will instantly set the tone for the rest of the day and help you focus your attention on other things to appreciate about your life. Can you think of a better use of one minute?

2. When you are having a hard day, make a gratitude list. We all have those challenging days from time to time. During those difficult days it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook. One of the things that can make a bad day much better is to take a break and make a list of all the things you are thankful for. No matter what you are going through, there are always things to be thankful for. Making a list of those things will shift your focus and make you feel much more resourceful.

3. Instead of getting mad at someone, show gratitude. I know this isn’t always the easiest thing because it requires a complete reversal in attitude. But I can promise you that it’s a great thing to do for your own peace of mind. If you get mad, try to bite your tongue and resist the temptation to react in anger. Instead, take some deep breaths, calm down, and try to think of reasons you’re grateful for that person. Find something, anything, even if it’s something very small. Then focus only on that reason to feel grateful. Slowly your mood will begin to shift away from anger toward a more empowering state.

4. Instead of criticizing, show gratitude. This is similar to the strategy above, but much less challenging. This simple tactic can literally transform an important relationship like a marriage. If you constantly criticize your spouse, your marriage will slowly deteriorate. Yes, it’s important to be able to talk out problems, but no one likes to be criticized all the time. So, when you find yourself feeling the urge to criticize, stop and get a grip on yourself. Now take a moment to think about all the reasons you are truly grateful for your spouse. Then share that gratitude, as soon as possible and watch as your relationship becomes stronger.

5. When you face a major challenge, be grateful for it. Many people will see difficulties as a reason to complain and feel sorry for themselves. Trust me, that attitude won’t get you anywhere. Instead, try to see the positive aspects associated with those difficult experiences. Could you appreciate them as an opportunity to learn and grow? This simple change in perception can transform a challenge into something positive with possible long term benefits. But for that to happen we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

6. Express gratitude to others at every opportunity. Say thank you whenever someone shows you the least bit of consideration. Doing this will make you feel better and it will encourage others to be more considerate. There are plenty of rude and inconsiderate people in the world, but you can be a force for good simply by spreading some gratitude around. Be on the lookout for even small acts of kindness. When you notice them be quick to express appreciation and watch what happens. You can use the power of your gratitude to help others feel good about themselves.

7. Focus on what you have not what you don’t have. Have you ever looked around you and felt shortchanged because the place you live isn’t your dream house or the car you drive isn’t as nice as you would like? It’s easy to forget that there are billions of people who are much worse off than you are. Those people would be so grateful to have what you have.  When you compare your life to these people’s lives, you can’t help but feel grateful for the life you have.  You may not have everything, but you must admit that you have been blessed in many ways.

Make the shift and enjoy the benefits

The more you focus on gratitude the more you will appreciate your life and the happier you will be. An appreciative attitude will also make you more aware of your blessings and prevent you from taking them for granted. Remember, the happiest people are not the ones who have the best of everything, they are the ones who are grateful for everything they have.

What are you grateful for?

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  1. Annie December 10, 2008 Reply

    One of the best tips I ever read about gratefulness was… find a beautiful stone or gem that will fit in your pocket and make this your “grateful stone” every time you touch it, take a moment to get into the grateful zone… let the wonderful feeling wash over you and give thanks. My little pink stone gives me a reminder every time I come across it, which is at least 3 times a day.

  2. Galen Pearl September 20, 2011 Reply

    My topic this whole month on my blog is “Develop at attitude of gratitude.” So we are in sync! One technique I use is to begin and end my day by being grateful. And during the day, my phone vibrates at 10, 2, and 6, at which times I pause and say “thank you.” (I got the idea of set times of the day from the Islamic practice of praying at set times.) I also use all of the techniques you list. It is so easy to transform a situation and even our lives by focusing on gratitude.

    • Jonathan September 21, 2011 Reply

      Hi Galen, discovering the power of gratitude is something that can certainly bring a lot of joy into our lives. I like your method of taking regular, scheduled gratitude breaks. What a great way to keep your focus in the right place. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Larry Lewis September 21, 2011 Reply

    I’ve always been very goal orientated. I love chasing my dreams. But that doesn’t been i don’t show appreciation for what i already have. I am very fortunate in many ways, and every morning i show my gratitude for everything in my life. I take about 5 minutes but it floods my body with happiness recognizing what i have in my life already.

    • Jonathan September 21, 2011 Reply

      You make a good point Larry, there is no conflict between being goal oriented and being grateful at the same time. Thanks for pointing that out.

  4. Ken Wert September 21, 2011 Reply

    Such great advice, Jonathan.

    I think I am by nature a grateful person. But I’ve also worked to increase it as well. Still, the hardest one for me is to actually feel grateful for a trial in the moment it all errupts in my face. A little later, even before the trial is a thing of the past, I’m okay. I can feel gratitude for the person the challenge is helping me become. But that initial explosion often rocks me a little before settling into a grateful repose.

    I have to admit, though, I’ve never actually written out a gratitude list and probably ought to try it out for size. But I do regularly think about all the things I’m grateful for. It really does change the whole life experience.

    • Jonathan September 21, 2011 Reply

      Hi Ken, I think we are all challenged by that “initial moment” when we turn right and life takes a hard left or when someone’s behavior is totally uncalled for. Whenever we are knocked off balance our internal resources become less available. Some of these points, especially #3, can be extremely challenging to master (if we ever do). The important thing is that we try to keep moving in the right direction.

  5. Jimmy September 22, 2011 Reply

    The most powerful calming force in the world that we can tap into.

    #3 and #4 is always tough for me. How can we make the process of showing gratitude in such circumstances easier? I could think of carry some pictures of uplifting moods or even a list of things we are grateful for ever ready to be used.


    • Jonathan September 23, 2011 Reply

      Hey Jimmy, you opened your comment with an excellent definition of gratitude. One way to make the process easier in those situations (it will always require some effort) is to use a technique I call Touchstone Triggering. You can read more about it in an article called Positive Attitude Anchoring for Instant Access.

      • Jimmy September 23, 2011 Reply

        Hi Jon,

        Thanks for the extra tip through the attached post. Really appreciate that.


  6. Vic September 22, 2011 Reply


    Great list! I usually practice gratitude throughout the week but I do it in the evening. I think it makes more sense to jump-start your day with gratitude. I will change it to the morning and see if it makes a difference.

    • Jonathan September 23, 2011 Reply

      Hi Vic, doing both mornings and evenings is twice as powerful. You might try focusing on a different area of your life for each session. That way you stay in the gratitude zone and expand your overall appreciation level, but still keep it short enough to be manageable.

  7. Deb September 22, 2011 Reply

    I love this list. I need to work on gratitude right now as I am in a difficult / anxiety state of being lately. My biggest issue in my marriage is my critical nature so #4 is the one for me to focus on right now. I am already working on this with my coach, but using gratitude is another approach I can use to counter my instinct to be critical of those I love most. Thanks – off to share this post.

    • Jonathan September 23, 2011 Reply

      Hi Deb, as you counter the critical tendency with gratitude it will create an internal shift because you will have a different focus. Whatever we focus on grows. Taking time to do a regular gratitude review and remind yourself of all the reasons you appreciate those people will help create a new positive neural pathway for the energy that is currently being channeled in a negative, critical direction.

  8. Nancy September 24, 2011 Reply

    Hello Jonathan,

    Another great blog post from you and this time on gratitude and appreciation! I am in total gratitude to be part of your network of inspiration….

    I keep a gratitue journal by my bedside and before I go to bed at night I record all that I am grateful for for that day…..keeping in the spirit of attitude of gratitude.

    Also, when someone asks you, “How are you?” Why not say, “Grateful” instead of “fine”….it carries so much more punch!

    In gratitude,

    • Jonathan October 12, 2011 Reply

      Hi Nancy, I am also grateful that you share your gems with the rest of us. You are very encouraging and supportive. A gratitude journal is an excellent way to stay in the attitude of gratitude. Reading through it when you need an attitude adjustment also serves as a great reminder. I love your response to the “How are you?” question. I usually say “fabulous” but I think I’ll borrow yours and see what happens.

  9. Carmilita September 25, 2011 Reply

    This is my first time visiting this site, as I was searching for just something positive to help me through my difficult time. I am indeed gratified to find a source of information that is available to the public readily to help people like myself.
    The author/authors of this site must be commended for this — it shows they are living by example, helping to improve others lives by truly sharing.
    Thank you, and I am in turn encouraged to even do more than I was doing to help others and to continue to be grateful for life, and all that I have accomplished.

    Blessings to All.

    • Jonathan October 12, 2011 Reply

      Greetings Carmilita and welcome to Advanced Life Skills. I deeply appreciate your kind words of commendation. Isn’t it wonderful how mutually encouraging gratitude can be?

  10. George September 25, 2011 Reply

    I get along with my co workers but there are instances that they just make me mad. Your advice on showing gratitude instead of being angry is a good idea. It may take some practice but not focusing on the negative things they do and focusing on their good side would make me appreciate them more. These are great tips Jonathan. I need these.

    • Jonathan October 12, 2011 Reply

      Hi George, so glad you found this information useful. It definitely takes practice to change our response to others, especially those who tend to come from a negative or critical place. The key is to respond rather than react. A reaction means that they are controlling the direction, whereas a response puts you in the drivers seat.

  11. Ted October 2, 2011 Reply

    I’m so glad I found your post about gratitude – I think we’re on the same wavelength. I really believe that the world would be a better place if we would all step back from all the critical talk and start showing more gratitude every day. Like you say in #6: “Doing this will make you feel better and it will encourage others to be more considerate… you can be a force for good simply by spreading some gratitude around”

    Keep helping people realize their potential.

  12. Jonathan October 12, 2011 Reply

    Hi Ted and thanks for your positive words of encouragement.

  13. Ted October 12, 2011 Reply

    Thanks Jonathan. It’s nice to be part of a community that’s devoted to making the world a better place.

  14. Chrysta Bairre October 11, 2013 Reply

    Wow, what an awesome article! I’m grateful to read this today!

    Gratitude is one of my favorite topics to read and write about, and a favored tool in my toolbox.

    What I especially appreciate about this post is how you’ve identified 7 specific ways to apply gratitude to your life. I have used all of these and yet today I was in need of a little reminder of the power of gratitude in my life.

    Right this moment I’m especially tuned into the idea of being grateful for challenges. I’m facing some major challenges today and I was just thinking about how some of my hardest challenges were also amazing opportunities for personal and professional growth. It wasn’t always fun to go through those difficult times, but I ended up in a better place on the other side of them.

    Thanks again for sharing this beautiful message!


  15. Gavriel October 14, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for this highly inspiring post! I think I am ready to incorporate gratitude practices into my life again – I over did them in the past trying to force change and grew resistant, but just focusing on one little practice at a time will make a big difference.

    One of my favorite techniques used to be as the last thing before sleeping, go through the day in my head and say thank you for all the things I was grateful for that happened that day. It is so easy to forget all the amazing little or not so little things that have happened unless we make an effort to remember and say thank you.

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