Embracing an Attitude of Gratitude in College

girl meditating with dog

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “have an attitude of gratitude” before—and while it may seem cliché, it’s actually an effective method of improving your general happiness and mental wellbeing. Especially for college students, it’s important to practice gratitude to reduce stress levels throughout the day (we know those exams aren’t easy). If you’d like to learn how to practice gratitude, try the following tips to embrace a new outlook.

Understanding Gratitude, Mental Health and Self Esteem

Practices of gratitude and thankfulness are connected to a variety of mental and physical health benefits. From decreasing physical pain to improving sleep schedules, reducing anxiety and minimizing aggression towards others, it’s worth your time to invest in a little thankfulness. For students, managing classes, relationships and a busy schedule isn’t always. It is common to slip into an anxious state of mind. The practice of gratitude should become one of your tools to combat these emotions and improve your outlook.

Starting Small

Our behaviors don’t change overnight, and if you’re trying to become more thankful in your day-to-day routine, we recommend starting with some attainable, easy goals. We’ve got a few recommendations worth considering:

  • Curate your media intake: What kind of social media are you consuming on a daily basis, and how many hours of your time do you spend scrolling? Does that media inspire and uplift you, or does it decrease your general happiness? We have the power to curate our media feeds to show equal parts news updates with inspiring content. Try to follow and engage with more platforms that produce content to remind you that there’s good in the world and things to be grateful for!
  • Update your living space decor: As human beings, we are naturally a product of our environment. Make sure the space in your dorm or apartment reminds you to be grateful and focus on the positive! Whether it’s decorating with uplifting posters, handwritten quotes or vision boards, the space you create will influence your attitude of gratitude.
  • Combat negative thoughts: One of the biggest barriers to gratitude are our own negative thoughts. Phil Stutz, M.D., psychiatrist and co-author of The Tools, explains, “after something happens, you have the ability to relate to it as if it’s exactly what you wanted. Then it doesn’t matter what happens. People think: ‘If I accept the state I’m in now, I won’t improve.’ And that’s wrong. If you accept the state you’re in now, it makes you whole. It connects you to a force of wholeness, which is infinite. But it means you’ve got to become whole first, which means accepting what is.”

Maintain Your Momentum

Once you’ve got your lifestyle of thankfulness underway, it’s time to refine and continue your approach. When you have good momentum, you don’t want to let it go! Try these tactics to further enhance your attitude of gratitude:

  • Volunteer in the community: When you give back, you become grateful. It’s as easy as that! Find ways to donate your time, money or talents to those around you—whether on- or off-campus.
  • Gratitude-guided meditation: Many college students are making meditation a priority for their morning routines. Amid your peaceful pauses and affirmations, create space for gratitude and add elements of expressing thanks in your mantra.
  • Gratitude walking: While this method might be slightly different from other tactics, it comes highly recommended. Take some time to walk alone in a peaceful location with minimal distractions, focusing on your thoughts and breathing throughout the process. Cheryl Rickman, author of The Flourish Handbook and Ghostwriter, shared that, “each morning I walk myself into a state of well-being and away from my worries. I walk myself into new ideas, creative solutions and immense gratitude for what I have. With each step, I feel empowered.”

The Power of “Thank You”

The development of an attitude of gratitude will always be a worthwhile endeavor. Whether you’re trying to destress, shift your mindset or improve your wellbeing, there is power in saying “thank you.” Show gratitude to yourself, your surroundings, the people you meet and the opportunities you have. Harness that power and conquer your college experience!