Gratitude changes everything.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness and wellbeing. 

It’s been found to help people feel more positive emotions. They enjoy the time they spend with others more, deal with hardships better and improve their health.

Studies show that making a conscious effort to feel gratefulness helps you develop the habit of being optimistic, leading to increased joy in your life.  

How Do You Express Gratitude?

People feel and express gratitude in numerous ways.

You may send thank you notes to others, pray on a regular basis, volunteer, or spend time with loved ones.

You can look for silver linings even in the most difficult life challenges. If you get injured you can be grateful for the compassion and help of family and friend. There’s always something positive if you look deep enough. When things feel hard, ask yourself: What’s good here?

Focusing on others helps you feel grateful. When you’re having a hard time coming up with something to be grateful for and are too internally focused on your problems, empathy and a change in perspective can help. For example, you can feel grateful for your home and safe living conditions if you think about someone who is homeless or in the military away at war.  

Other ways to increase gratitude consist of keeping a gratitude journal, counting your blessings every day, meditating or thanking yourself for taking care of you – like after eating a healthy meal or working out.

Try This Gratitude Experiment

I’m suggesting a subtle yet effective way to cultivate more gratitude into your life. Replace the words “I’m sorry” with “Thank you”.

I see it more often in women than men. Maybe it’s a societal thing, or the way we were raised by our families. We tend to apologize too much, many times for things that don’t need apologies.

If you tend to say “I’m sorry” a lot, out of habit or from years of conditioning to be nice or to please others, you’ve got to try this.

Think of it as an experiment, and for the next 7 days replace the words “I’m Sorry” with “Thank You”.

Here are some examples:

• Change “Sorry, I’m late,” to:
“Thank you for your patience” or “Thank you for waiting for me.”

• Change “I’m sorry for making you work late,” to:
“Thank you for working so hard on this assignment.”

• Change “I’m sorry I got that wrong,” to:
“Thank you for catching my mistake.”

• Change “I’m sorry for unloading all of this on you,” to:
“Thank you for listening and being here for me during this tough time.”

• Change “I’m so sorry to stick you with this extra work” to:
“Thank you so much for taking care of this.”

• Change “I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time” to:
“Thanks for spending so much time with me.”

I find this approach very effective. You’ll get the benefits of being more grateful.

And you’ll find its empowering too; it just feels better to reduce or eliminate saying sorry all the time.

You’re not allowing your position and status to be devalued, and you also make the person’s whose receiving your thanks feel valued and better about the interaction too. 

It’s a subtle and easy way to change how you think about yourself and others, and it sends a positive message rather than a negative one: a message of gratitude.  

So again, I challenge you to try this for one week or longer. Make it a habit.

You’ll get better at hearing your automatic apologies and be better able to quickly change it to “thank you” with practice.

Let me know in the comments how it worked for you and how you’re feeling by making this one shift.