Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed. ~ Maya Angelou.

Gratitude. It’s one of life’s sweet shortcuts to happiness.

This magic little G word has completely transformed my baseline happiness level each day.

It’s also attracted so many blessings and moments of serendipity into my life. It’s almost like when I am thanking the Universe for good things, I am placing an order for more of them.

But why does gratitude work for some of us, and for others it feels like a huge boring chore?

Here are the four keys to unlocking the magical effect of gratitude:

1. Be specific and use details

It’s a beautiful thing to give thanks for your friends and family, your home and health, but if you stick with the broad-brushstroke top-level stuff, two things can go wrong:

(i) You run out of things to give thanks for very quickly.

(ii) General words like ‘home’ don’t have a huge emotional impact.

Infuse your gratitudes with personal meaning and soul by using details. Here are some examples:

I am not just grateful for my fiance, I am grateful for the way he begins his texts with Dear Elyse, the way he dances to electro-pop music, the way his eyes change colour every morning, the way he lets me shower first and the way he rocks a graphic tee.

I am not just grateful for having access to food. I am grateful for the beautiful aroma of my morning coffee (and the zing! it gives me), the fresh flavours of my latest salad experiment, and the ah-mazing rice paper rolls and Vietnamese dipping sauce we tried last night.

I am not just grateful for my friends. I am grateful for feeling safe and supported in a way that lets me spill my heart to them anytime, sharing sweet crisp ciders and laughs at our local outdoor film festival on a summer evening, and our Saturday morning ritual of yoga and brunch.

2. Feel the emotion

There is a huge difference between listing off a string of words in a monotone voice like a robot so that you can get this damn gratitude thing over with – and making the time and space to feel the soft glow of positive emotional energy rising in your body as you bask in amazement at all the beauty and blessings in your life.

Feel excited, giggly, sweet satisfaction, joy, love and awe. Give the Universe a Hell Yeah! Give yourself a little high-five too. What An Amazing Life, You Beautiful Thing!

Emotions are the most powerful messages to the Universe. The more you feel good, the more good things will be attracted into your life.

3. Be present in your life

If you’re constantly focusing on the circling thoughts in your head, trying to mentally write your to-do list and worrying about when that guy will text and planning your outfit for next Friday night, you miss out on all the magic and beauty happening around you in that moment.

When you’ve missed the live broadcast of your life, it’s pretty hard to reflect on your day and feel gratitude for everything in it.

We all get lost in thoughts, but try to bring your attention back to the present moment throughout the day. Be on the lookout for blessings and magic. Feel the breeze on your skin. Spot flowers on your street. Pause for a few deep breaths. Truly listen to people.

It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet. ~ Franz Kafka

4. Give thanks in advance

One of the best ways to feel instantly happier and fast track the delivery of your dreams is to give thanks in advance. This sends a positive message to the Universe that you fully expect good things to happen.

Feel the way you would be feeling if you had already kicked your goals or received your desires.

If you’re dreaming of love, feel the sense of excitement, joy and contentment that a partner would bring you. Feel it NOW.

If you’re seeking more abundance in your life, thank the Universe for the endless river of abundance flowing towards you. Smile at the knowledge that it is a matter of when, not if.

This is why people who describe themselves as lucky receive so much good fortune – by declaring themselves as ‘lucky’ they are giving thanks in advance, and the Universe rearranges itself to bring more serendipity and gifts into their life in accordance with their beliefs.

They are also more likely to subconsciously be looking out for opportunities, people and events that align with their dreams, because they believe they are going to reach them.

What tips and tricks have helped with your gratitude practice? I’d love to know! x