Life sucks! This mantra is all too common, resulting from a society of materialistic haves and have nots. That’s why it’s so important for us to prioritize what matters in our lives, and one of the best ways to do that is through gratitude. Being grateful has the power to immediately change our state of mind, thus redirecting our energies in a more positive and uplifting way. Being, or not being, thankful can greatly affect how our day plays out and ultimately dictates our happiness in life.

There are so many reasons why having an attitude of gratitude matters, but in the end the best reason is the way it makes us feel. The simple act of positively acknowledging even the most simple aspects of our lives has a way of lifting our spirits. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re feeling upset or angry about something, stop and remember a time when you were the most happy, don’t just recall that moment, but relive it. Those feelings of joy will rush over you and vanquish any other feelings of frustration. Being aware of the good things we have in our lives is paramount if we wish to be and have more (I’m speaking in regards to substance, of course, but material goods can be mixed in here as well). William Arthur Ward said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” That’s a powerful sentiment worth living by!

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

-William Arthur Ward

Inevitably, though, life will be difficult. There will certainly be good, dare I say, great days, but from time to time life will simply seem to suck, as the mantra goes. Luckily for us nothing is permanent and whatever we’re dealing with will eventually pass. During these times, however, it becomes extremely difficult for us to maintain positivity. Sometimes it seems as though the world is crashing down around us, but somehow we’re supposed to be grateful. The truth is it will be hard, but the more adamant we are about focusing on the good in our lives, the more good we will see and the faster we can rid ourselves of the bad the comes up. There’s no magical piece of information that can teach us to overcome tragedy, but remembering what we have in this life can and will help us through even the most trying of times. Another way to remind ourselves of all of our blessings is by helping those in need. Freeing ourselves to help others is truly a gift, and it can certainly help us to gain perspective on what we have to be grateful for when life gets us down.

Speaking of helping others, gratitude is contagious! Leading by example and proactively acknowledging life’s blessings on a daily basis will in some way affect the people around us with whom we have regular contact. Beyond that, having a discussion with a loved one or close friend about what we’re most thankful for in life can have a tremendously positive impact on not only us, but also the person who we talk with. We can really never know how big of an impact we might have on someone when we do something as seemingly trivial as giving thanks. Believe me, though, it’s magic! The more thanks we give, the more we will receive, and the cycle repeats, it’s really quite beautiful. Beware, though, feelings of anger and hopelessness operate the same, the more we feed them the more we will receive of them. We have to make a conscious effort to choose to be grateful.

It might seem impossible to keep things up at first, but rest assured the more we appreciate, then the more energy we create for ourselves. It may sound a bit silly, sure, but give it an honest effort before assuming it’s not possible. You’ll be surprised how you feel when you start becoming more thankful. When we take a moment to stop the internal dialect of worry and woe, and we instead find peace in what we already have, we harness an unseen power of untold treasures. This is the place where dreams are made, literally. We must take the leap and wholeheartedly practice being grateful, it will open so many other wonderful doors that have yet to even be seen.

Appreciating the present is a great place to start and master, but equally important, in my opinion, is the need to appreciate the future (read: visualizing). If you’re trying to get from Toronto in Ontario, Canada to Houston, Texas in the United States, but you don’t have directions and you’ve never made the trip before, then you’re going to struggle, and more likely you won’t make it there at all. If, on the other hand, you used your smartphone’s map app, you’d find the fastest route with the least traffic. Life is much the same way; if you don’t ever see or have a specific future in mind, there’s no telling where you might end up! If, however, you have a goal, something to aspire towards, then you can visualize it in your mind and be thankful for it even though it has yet to manifest. The gratitude you express for things yet to come is like a seed planted in the depths of your mind, once it’s planted, it will begin to sprout, and the fruits it bears are limitless. Appreciation for the future expedites your success by instilling clear images of your expectations for the future.

I implore you, take a moment everyday to be thankful, just a moment. Soon you will feel sensations of joy and happiness all because you are aware of all that is good in your life. I will leave you with this quote from John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”