An Attitude of Gratitude | How to Cultivate a Happy Heart

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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woman standing in front of a pool wearing lilly pulitzer outfit

I don’t know about you, but for me, cultivating an attitude of gratitude has been something that I’ve had to be very intentional about doing. Even though I am a pretty optimistic person by nature, I don’t really think gratitude comes naturally to most of us. For me, it was a mindset that required thoughtfulness, intentionality, and faithfulness to develop. In fact, merely pursuing it has borne the fruit of joy in my life, which in turn makes my ongoing efforts to nurture a grateful heart well worth it.

woman standing in front of a pool wearing lilly pulitzer outfit

Did you know that having an attitude of gratitude can significantly affect your health? A recent study in Primary Health Care Research & Development found that the act of explicitly expressing gratitude lifted people’s mood and sense of well-being. Another recent study targeted health-care workers, asking them to journal about why they were grateful. They reported experiencing an average 28% reduction in stress, and it halved the risk of depression in those with a history of the disease! Yet another research study focused on suicidal patients, asking them to write a letter of gratitude. In a whopping 90% of cases, it decreased their sense of hopelessness significantly.

woman standing in front of a pool wearing lilly pulitzer outfit

So how do we learn to count our blessings, as opposed to focusing on life’s annoyances and frustrations? For me, it simply became a discipline that became a habit, then became an integrated part of my life. I’ve found that it’s hard to be unhappy when you force yourself to focus on the things you have to be thankful for in life. You can cultivate a happy heart by training yourself to look for the blessings in even the most challenging situations. (Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a shortcut!) Here are some things that I’m grateful for:

fresh flowers * crunchy cereal with cold milk * my favorite candle * blue skies * my pink Apple Watch * when my husband laughs at something funny I say * finding the perfect gift for someone I love * bubble baths * my favorite lip plumper gloss * compliments * when I’m done with my workout * the smell of peanut butter * funny graphic tees * that “new car” smell * Bible study * stretchy shorts * a baby’s giggle * puppies * when my grown sons hug me * honesty * when hard work pays off * my favorite almond body wash * french fries * a sincere smile * chick flicks * nail polish that stays chip-free for days * how my empty nest house stays clean * sleeping in on a Saturday * Lilly Pulitzer anything * a fire in the fireplace * sincerity * when someone gives me a gift they say “reminded” them of me * making a new friend * my favorite beach spot * movie theater popcorn 

Gratitude is the Best Attitude Journal | Say a Little Prayer Journal

One of the best things I do is keep a gratitude journal. It helps me nurture an attitude of gratitude by focusing on things, large or small, that bring me joy. Steph Weibring of Joy Creative Shop (one of my very shops) shares my heart for joy and how strongly joy links to gratitude. The gratitude journal at Joy Creative Shop has been a great reminder to me that an attitude of gratitude is really the key to a happy heart. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that bring us the most joy, and if this adorable journal doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will!

gratitude to do list from joy creative shop

Gratitude To-Do List Pad

Joy Creative Shop has several other gratitude tools that have really made a difference in my life! I have THIS gratitude to-do list pad that I use every evening when I make my to-do list for the next day. It’s from Joy Creative Shop, one of my favorite small businesses. Joy Creative Shop has several sweet gratitude tools that can help you as you work to cultivate a heart of joy. You can take 10% off anything at Joy Creative Shop with the code ENB10.

woman standing in front of a pool wearing lilly pulitzer outfit

What makes your heart happy? I’d love it if you’d leave me a comment and share a few of the things on your joyful list. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a joyful act unto itself, amirite? 🙂

Photos by Megan Weaver.

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Suzy Mighell

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    1. Julie,
      Focusing on gratitude really makes a huge difference, I agree! Thanks for your comment! xoxo Suzy

  1. I love this, Suzy! And the list of the daily things you are most grateful is so close to mine! Thank you for the reminder!

    1. LeAna,
      Sweet, thank you! We have a lot in common! Happy Monday! xoxo Suzy

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