One of the traditions at our Thanksgiving table is to go around and share what we are grateful for. After the tradition this year, I asked myself “beyond the holiday season, when do I practice gratitude?” The answer is almost never. Between running from activity to activity and completing all of my to-do lists, there is hardly enough time to eat, let alone time to be thankful. But this year’s stories of strained relationships or financial difficulties, and hope or happiness made me recognize my lack of gratitude.
Research told me that practiced gratitude improves mental health, relishes good experiences, and boosts relationships with others. Who wouldn’t want that? Here are 4 simple ways that you and I can become more grateful:
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Recall moments of joy, ordinary events, or valued people in your life, and write them down. On Friday, Nov. 25, I wrote, “I am thankful that I have a place to live, a car to drive, and people who love me.” I kept it simple because I am just starting and you can, too!
2. Use reminders
One thing that holds me back from acknowledging gratitude is simply forgetting. I set a daily alarm clock labeled “greats” to remind me to recognize what I am grateful for from the day.
3. Look around you
Using your 5 senses can be an immediate way to recognize gratitude. If you enjoy a particular view or smell something beautiful, stop and relish the moment. You might just see how much good the world around you has to offer.
4. Share your gratitude with others
Telling people in your life that you are grateful for them or thankful for something they did will give you both a rush of happiness.
Every outcome, every day, and every moment whether positive or negative, is a gift. If we aren’t paying attention, it can easily be forgotten. In the few of days of gratitude that I’ve practiced, I am finding it helpful to acknowledge all of the good and identify the lessons learned from the bad. Either way, there is always something to be thankful for.
My grateful Thanksgiving might just be the start of a grateful life. And I am wishing the same for all of you!