We all have our own, unique holiday traditions.
But we all also share some similar traditions this holiday season. Aside from families being packed around the table, the smell of spices in the kitchen, and waiting to dig into a turkey feast, most of us also set aside a few minutes this day to give thanks.
It’s great to dedicate one day to being thankful, but how do we spread that mindset to other areas of our life—and even our business?
Each and every day we could find a handful of things to be grateful for—so why don’t we? Why is gratefulness so hard to make a habit?
There are a million excuses we could make. We get it! We make them, too. We are always too busy, too stressed, too tired, too anything. But having a grateful mindset for longer than one day matters, especially to an art business owner—and even most importantly when you feel like you don’t even have the mental space or time to practice being thankful.
Check out six benefits of a developing a grateful mindset, and some actions to keep the gratitude going all year long.
Less instantly becomes more
Gratitude is much more than a fleeting “thank you.” It’s a deep appreciation within yourself for the blessings you have been given in your life. Because so much of life is not a guarantee.
When you start to actually count your blessings, you might be surprised at how much you actually have to be thankful for.
This helps to build an abundance mindset. When you call attention and recognize all of the gifts you have been given—Food, water, shelter, family, friends, the ability to create and share your work, the chance to make a living doing what you love—you watch your cup get fuller and fuller.
You aren’t throwing any more gifts on the pile, but you are opening your eyes again to the things you already have and forgot about.
The best part? When the world gets you down and your cup feels empty, all you have to do is remember your blessings, and it fills back up instantly. The mind is incredibly powerful and this creates a way to reframe and shift your perspective.
Your perspective (and life) changes forever
The life of a professional artist is not all inspired days in studio and fancy gallery receptions. There’s a lot at stake with your reputation and livelihood constantly being put on the line.
That stress and worry naturally shifts our focus from all that we have going for us onto our insecurities, our doubts, our failures.
But what is the point of achievement if it makes you miserable?
Luckily, by practicing gratitude, we are able to change our whole outlook.
By remembering the unique, wonderful position you are in and being thankful for it, you can shift the focus back to the reasons you became an artist in the first place—to create something that tells a story, to work with your hands, to make people feel something at their core, to go to work every day and do what you love.
It is an incredible blessing to be an artist and get to practice your art.
When we take the time to name the things that we are grateful for, we flip from a negative mentality to a “lucky to be an artist” mindset. As a result, small successes become celebrations. Losses become lessons. Obstacles become opportunities. All thanks to a change of perspective!
Even our relationships improve
When we are grateful to have someone’s presence in our lives, it shows.
We are kinder to them. We pay them more attention. We listen. We want to help. We follow through on our commitments. And, we want to show them that they can trust and believe in us.
Not only does this deepen the bonds of existing relationships, but new people are drawn to this energy. Like a moth to a flame, this positive energy is contagious because everyone likes to feel appreciated.
What does this mean for your art career?
Not every person has to buy your work. The ones that do, the ones that really connect with what you are doing, they are something to appreciate. Without them, you wouldn’t be doing what you love. So, don’t bottle that gratitude up—share it!
Being grateful for every single client and collector will help you go above and beyond in your relationships with them. And it will touch every aspect of your business in a profound way: the passion behind what you create, the messaging in your art marketing, the conversations you have with clients, even the customer service you provide.
With an attitude of gratitude, this enthusiasm will shine through and it will leave a lasting impression on your clients.
Your motivation skyrockets
The truth? Tomorrow is not a guarantee.
When we take the time to remember how much we have been given in this life, we also have to realize that it could be taken away at any moment. No one wants to look back on life and think, “I should have done that while I had the chance.”
We have to find a way to take advantage of the blessings we have, while we have them. Enjoy it while it lasts, as they say.
The point of thinking this way is not to upset or discourage us. Remember the change in perspective we talked about earlier? Instead of dwelling on the fact that our way of life is not permanent, let it inspire you!
Let it motivate you to seize each and every day while you can. Let it jumpstart your energy each morning, so you can tackle the hard things ahead with a smile on your face.
You are capable. You are blessed. And, you are not going to let this moment pass you by.
It opens the door to positivity
Our minds are incredibly powerful—they have the ability to shape our reality.
Say you have a deep anxiety that your work isn't up to par for an upcoming show. Did you know that just by having a negative outlook, you are actually more likely to monitor for signs that other people in the show also feel this way? Unknowingly, you might even interpret their neutral behavior as a slight against you to confirm your own suspicions!
It’s called a negative confirmation bias, and it needs to be stopped.
You let your mind race with predetermined thoughts, instead of truly seeing what’s really in front of you. Remember, everything we see, experience, and understand is filtered through our own perspective.
According to some research, we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day—and as many as 98% of them are exactly the same as the ones we had the day before. Imagine if we were able to shift even ten percent of those thoughts. How would that change our worldview?
Practicing gratitude is a surefire way to change our outlook from negative to positive. Viewing life through a positive lens has the ability to completely change your mindset.
No longer are you worried about what the other artists and show-goers think. You are just grateful that your work is being acknowledged, grateful to share your unique story, grateful to be counted among other brilliant artists, and grateful for the feedback you get.
No longer are we tethered to those toxic emotions and skewed sense of reality. Reality is literally what we make it, and we could all use a little more positivity.
See you later, stress. Hello, better art.
Gratitude forces you to take an inventory of where you are in life and what you have to be grateful for. When you see how much there is to be thankful for, your life doesn’t seem so bad and your problems don’t seem so big.
It’s a major relief, actually.
Because then you don’t have to stress about every little thing. With gratitude as your secret weapon, you are capable of taking action, remember? And if you fail at something, that’s okay because life is still good. Just look at all the blessings in your basket!
And, guess what? Without this cloud of stress floating constantly above our heads, we are actually able to create better work.
Better work, all because we can think more clearly. There is less “should have,” “can’t”; less negative thoughts weighing us down and more room for new ideas. With a refreshed mind, we can capture better ideas, focus on the task at hand instead of how poorly we feel, and have the energy to actually concentrate and execute our ideas.
It’s the same reason we need to take time to unplug every now and then. We can’t expect ourselves to create our best work if we aren’t in the best state mentally.
And, gratitude can help get us there.
Ready to get started?
We wouldn’t just tell you about the benefits of gratitude and send you on your way without some actionable advice first! Check out some concrete ways to keep gratitude a part of your daily routine, and not just a Thanksgiving memory:
Thank You Notes
Whatever happened to the days of writing letters? In a letter, you can take the time to express what you’ve always wanted to say but haven’t yet found the right words for. People will always enjoy hearing what they mean to you!
A Gratitude Journal
At the end of the day, list three things that brought you happiness and made you feel fulfilled. It could be as small as a warm breeze dancing through the studio or as big as having a successful opening night for your latest showing. Eventually, you’ll be searching for happy things to stop and savor throughout the day to include in your journal. (It’s also great to start your next day thinking about the things you were grateful for the previous day, to kick off a grateful mindset.)
TIP: Prefer a more structured practice? Pick up an inspirational book like Moorea Seal’s 52 Lists for Happiness which provides you with weekly journal inspiration for positivity, balance, and joy.
Force yourself to slow down and appreciate each moment you experience. Sit in a quiet space and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, so you can remain aware of the blessings around you.
Not a fan of meditation? Yoga is a great way to stretch those tired muscles from the studio, but also focus the mind and give thanks for your body as it is in the world right now.
Allowing yourself to accept gratitude helps you better understand how to give it. If someone gives you a compliment or their genuine thanks, don’t shy away or belittle the moment. Allow yourself to feel the joy that comes with being appreciated, and let it inspire you to pass that feeling onto someone else.
Gratitude doesn’t always have to be shared out loud for you to reap the benefits! A small but purposeful mental “thank you” every now and then will help to develop a grateful mindset.
Cut Out Bad Habits
Try to notice those habits that breed negativity in your daily life and assign a consequence for doing them. For instance, when you start to complain, think of three things that you are grateful for instead!
There’s so much to be grateful for, but it can be hard to remember with so much noise and distraction. Give your mind a minute to think clearly with a digital detox, so you can reconnect with the joys in life—that don’t involve work or technology.
When adopting gratitude in your daily life, don’t forget the big picture! To truly appreciate your life as a whole, dig into the past and reflect on the wonderful memories you’ve made so far. Seize the present by acknowledging good fortune when it comes your way. And finally, apply gratitude to the future by always remaining optimistic for what’s to come.
In the end…
A grateful mindset doesn’t always happen overnight. Good habits often take practice and changing our thought patterns takes even more work, but the abundance, motivation, and perspective that gratitude cultivates will make a world of difference in throughout your art career and life.