Living a life of gratitude requires us to be as open and clear inside as we can. If we are to focus on our blessings and live in gratitude daily, it helps if we:
• Acknowledge and grieve our losses, both large and small. Often we think of loss only as the big things: death of a loved one, job loss, divorce or a devastating medical diagnosis, for example. But we have multiple losses regularly: things such as friends moving away, the limitations of aging (I can't do the same things I did 20 or 30 years ago!), even the growth and development of kids and grandkids (a positive thing and yet it also includes some loss as they need us less and need peers and friends more), and even the changing of seasons when the one we're leaving behind is our favorite. At the very least, acknowledge these losses. And sometimes, you may need to talk them over with a friend, a therapist or even a life coach. Other times, you may need to have a pity party or just spend time crying. Maybe journaling about the loss will help you. Or perhaps you need some type of ritual to bring closure (a funeral is a ritual).
• Celebrate successes, both large and small. Perhaps you've changed a bad habit. Or you've lost weight. Maybe you've finished a difficult project. Achieved another milestone in your career. Broken through some barriers in a relationship. Take the time to celebrate in a way that helps you notice all your blessings. Treat yourself to a night out, a movie, a new scarf. Celebrate with someone you love. Celebrate alone. Whatever floats your boat.
When you regularly grieve losses and let go—and when you regularly celebrate successes, you become much more aware of things in and around you. When your awareness has been ratcheted up, you are more tuned in to gratitude. Count your blessings and be grateful for all you have (including the opportunity to learn new things through experiences that at the time may not be what you wanted!).