On a day like today, we remember how lucky we are. We’re thankful for this beautiful gift of life, and all the goodness that surrounds us. As much as we like to complain about things that don’t really matter – we’re lucky, we’re alive – and that in and of itself is enough to be grateful for. So today I thought I’d share a few ways we can practice gratitude more often, because it’s so easy to get caught up in our day to day lives and forget how truly blessed we are.
Why Practice Gratitude?
Before I get into the exact ways to practice gratitude, why should we do it in the first place? Well, turns out, there’s a science to practicing gratitude and you can read more about it here if you’re interested. Long story short, “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.”
IDK about you, but all those things sound good to me.
How Can We Practice Gratitude?
Well, here are a few simple strategies, for starters.
- Add it to your morning routine – Every morning before you get out of bed, make it a point to reflect on something you’re grateful for in your life. A lot of people recommend using a gratitude journal, but if that sounds like too much work, just incorporate this quick simple practice into your morning routine and you’ll notice how much happier you feel at the start of your day.
- Try to give one genuine compliment a day – We all have people in our lives that we’re thankful for. Family, friends, even internet friends these days! But how often do we let them know how special they are to us? Probably not a whole lot. So whenever you can, try to give one genuine compliment to anyone, really, and you’ll see how easy it is to totally make someone’s day.
- Use visual reminders – Like I mentioned in #1, some people like to use a journal to help remind them to write down what they’re grateful for. If that sounds a little boring to you, try something a little different like a gratitude jar. Keep the jar in your kitchen or somewhere where it’ll be seen often – and then use it as a visual reminder to add a note to the jar whenever you’re feeling grateful. You can even take it one step further and empty the jar every Thanksgiving – reading aloud everything you were grateful for throughout the year.
- Challenge yourself to stop complaining – I know this one is hard, but think of it as a challenge. Start this off as a daily challenge – no complaining for a whole day. Then work your way up to a whole week. You’ll be surprised – the over achiever in you may really help you focus on all the good in your life.
- Connect with nature – For some reason, I feel the most grateful whenever I’m outside. Whenever I go for walks, I love to stop and reflect on how beautiful this world is – I know, I know, it’s so darn corny – but it’s true. Especially when the weather’s great. So make it a habit to get outside every couple of days and think about what it is about nature that you’re truly grateful for.
- Move a little slower – Even as a stay-at-home mom, my life is non-stop, and I’m sure yours is no different. We’ve got so much to do, tons of errands to run, and given that our lives are so fast-paced, it’s had to find even a minute to just reflect. I get it. But every once in a while, try to move a little slower. Schedule less appointments, leave the errands until tomorrow, and just be. Cook a nice homemade meal, ask your family and friends about their day, and in those slower moments, think about everything you’re grateful for.
- Learn to see the flip side – For every negative thought you have, try to look at it from a different perspective. You missed the train? Damn, that sucks. But at least now you can enjoy a nice walk outside while getting a little exercise and some much-needed fresh air, right? See, we tend to fixate on the negative, but with a little perspective, I think we could find happiness in the most unexpected of places.
How about you guys? How do you practice gratitude in your life? Let me know if you have any ideas, and also let me know one thing that you’re grateful for.