In one short week, Americans will gather around the table for a meal of Thanksgiving. Meant to be the one guaranteed day we come together and focus on gratitude. Feeling happy and grateful every day can be a real challenge – whether it’s the stress that comes along with the season, or the barrage of negativity we are exposed to on the news and social media. Finding a way to keep your mind positive can truly change the way you feel and live on a daily basis.
I know, it sounds great and wonderful – but sometimes life is just plain hard. I have periods of time where I am much better at practicing gratitude, and other times where it doesn’t come easily. Like much in life, I start a new day and try again – imagining it not as another task on my to do list. More of an investment in my heart and mental health.
In celebration of Thanksgiving, and all I have to be thankful for – I’ve decide to share with you the top 5 ways I know to encourage myself to feel grateful. And in turn, enjoy the blessings of life more.
1. GRATITUDE JOURNAL
This is, to me, the easiest way to begin your gratitude practice. It’s forming a habit. I keep a journal in my nightstand, and at night I write down three things I am grateful for that day. Fancy isn’t necessary, a little notebook. If something pretty makes you happy, go for it. If simple is best, that works too. The key is, find whatever inspires you to use it everyday. Make it work for you, start your day, or end your day focused on what you are grateful for.
2. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
Once you’ve started the habit of daily gratitude, you can easily challenge yourself to focus on 5 or 10 things you are grateful for, instead of 3. The more time you are able to spend on training your mind to focus on the joy in your life, you’ll find it seeping in throughout your day.
3. GO DEEPER
When I first started my gratitude journal, it was fairly basic. Things I’m grateful for: my family, my home, a job. It’s a great way to start. Actually, having this foundation of a grateful mindset still works on hard days when it’s hard to be creative. Once you are comfortable with keeping a journal, go deeper, be much more specific. For example, replace “I’m grateful for sunshine” with “I’m grateful that today I was able to go for a walk and feel the warmth of the sun on me.”
I am eternally grateful for my children (even on the hard Mommy days) – sometimes this is a time I focus on very specific memories I am grateful for, and want to treasure. Like, “I am grateful for the great teacher conference, and when she said he made her laugh until tears were streaming – I am grateful she confirmed it wasn’t anything inappropriate.”
4, LOOKING BACK
When you take the time to record your grateful heart, you are giving yourself time and space. Even greater, you are giving yourself the gift of a journal to savour. The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into years, and these journals are true treasures. They don’t require the time and energy of a long written journal. You can flip back and read the little snippets of joy in your life.
54 GO EASY
What is your goal in bringing a focus on gratitude to your life? Maybe it’s to find an overall better outlook on life, or feel more fulfilled, or just to find more joy in daily living. In my experience, you will find all of these as you make a habit of gratefulness.
If you are looking for perfection, don’t. There will be those days. Bad days, and hard days. Go ahead and grumble, mumble, but then move along and tell yourself one thing you are grateful for. Replace the negative thoughts with one thought of gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you. I wish you peace and love and much to be grateful for.