Have you noticed that some people are able to maintain a relatively positive attitude regardless of what’s happening around them right now? They can appreciate the good times but also seem to be able to focus on the positive in the face of so much uncertainty and a string of negative events, which seem almost daily.

Fortunately, a positive attitude can be cultivated with a little practice. Although we are born with specific temperamental tendencies, the brain is a muscle, and you can strengthen your mind’s natural tendency toward optimism if you work at it. And, fortunately, working on building your gratitude muscle can be enjoyable. But the benefits you gain would make it worth the effort even if it were a dull, difficult task.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Here’s how:


Your job this week is a simple one. Choose one person in your world who makes you feel truly thankful for their part in your life. It can be a spouse, a friend, a family member, or a co-worker. It really doesn’t matter who they are. What’s more important are the feelings of gratitude they elicit in you. Advertisement


Now, I want you to write them a letter. As you write this letter, tell them why you value their relationship and include a few points that are especially noteworthy—a great ability to listen, the best time you’ve ever shared with them, character traits you really appreciate. Anything that comes to mind and helps to build the whole of your gratitude.


Here comes the more difficult part: You need to read them your letter. Be it over the phone, Skype, or any other number of means, you need to convey it to them personally. Follow up by mailing or hand-delivering it. Advertisement


As you do this, make note of the different feelings it might bring up—nervousness, happiness, contentment, giddiness, or maybe even a little sadness or distress.

Each of these emotions and responses plays into that overall gratitude you feel, and as you begin to recognize its different components, you’ll notice that these come up in day-to-day life, and you will soon start noticing how small they can be and that they too are grounds for gratitude.

A positive attitude makes for a happy life. What tips do you have to share on keeping a positive outlook right now?