How to practice gratitude every day.
November is the month to practice gratitude and give thanks. It’s also a season of change, slowing down, reflection, and renewal.
Lately it feels like the days are blending together. I wake up sometimes not remembering what day it is because we’ve been in our little bubble for months.
As the weather becomes cooler and the holidays approach, I’m reminded of those times that we took for granted.
I’m thinking of the little things that have made such a huge impact in my life. Like being able to go out without face coverings and hand sanitizer.
Eating inside my favorite restaurants. Spending time with family & friends without giving thought to how many people should be invited. Hugging, hand shaking, and standing in close proximity to others.
These things usually flew under my radar because I knew (or so it seemed) they were always going to be there. What the recent events have taught me is that each moment is ephemeral, even if it seems like something is always going to be there.
It took a while for me to wrap my head around this reality. If everything is transient, then what is the point to all of this?
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to answer that question. What I do know is that change happens and I have to accept it. Without it, my kids wouldn’t grow up, the seasons would always be the same, and maybe I won’t be grateful if nothing ever changed.
As we inch closer and closer to our national holiday here in the U.S., we can take some time to reflect on the things that many of us have, like being able to move around & breathe, have a roof over our heads, and food to fill our bellies.
I know that it won’t solve all the problems in the world right now, but I know that gratitude, like exercise, is good for you. The more you practice, the better you'll get, and the more you'll benefit from it. It opens the way to more abundance, joy, happiness, health, rest, and resilience.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you practice gratitude every day.
When I challenged myself to write down 7 things each day that I was grateful for, I found that I kept writing the same thing over and over. Not that I wasn’t grateful for my husband, 3 kids, career, and a roof over my head, but it was too redundant. Instead, I wrote down just one thing I was grateful for each day.
Surprisingly, I found that I was most grateful for the small things in my life that I took for granted, like getting up in the morning, drinking my cup of coffee, and even washing the dishes. I even looked forward to writing in my journal every day. Being grateful for just one thing each day was enough to positively shift my mindset.
A gratitude journal habit is easy to start. You can begin by writing down just one thing you are grateful for each day. You can even challenge yourself if you want to. Give yourself a set time, say 30 days, to write one thing you’re grateful for each day.
Describe your emotions and observe if there are any changes in the way you feel. This will help you practice gratitude every day and is a fun way to look back on your progress.
ACT OF KINDNESS
Do one act of kindness for yourself or for someone else to help you practice gratitude every day. When you are kind to yourself or someone else, you appreciate the gesture, and it makes you feel good inside.
I received a text from a friend the other day checking in on how I was doing. Because of the election and everything else that went down in 2020, the tension that week was particularly salient. That tiny act was just what I needed to lift my spirits.
Acts of kindness are intentional. You can choose to be kind to yourself or someone else every day. It doesn’t have to be something huge. Just a simple smile or hello can make someone’s day.
Life is full of schedules, to-do lists, and distractions. It can be easy to overlook the things that give it meaning.
Slowing down helps you by bringing your attention into the present moment. When you are more engaged in life, you become more appreciative of what you have. You also become more connected to yourself and those around you.
Slowing down doesn’t have to eat up a lot of your time. You can start at any point in your day. I would suggest doing an activity that normally requires hustle and do it slowly for 5 minutes. You can also pick a time to just sit or lounge for 5 minutes to slow down and practice gratitude every day.
Do you criticize yourself, even for something trivial? I used to criticize myself all the time and it not only made me feel bad, I was telling myself I was wrong. I thought that I had to look and act perfect in order to be loved.
Self-compassion is an act of love for yourself. It’s not putting yourself above others, but rather giving yourself permission to accept all your parts, even the “bad” ones.
When you have self-compassion, you also make room in your life to practice gratitude every day. I challenge you not to criticize or berate yourself for a whole day and notice how you feel. Chances are, you’ll want to continue to practice self-compassion every day.
GRATITUDE NATURE WALK
The Greater Good Education Program teaches kids the Gratitude Nature Walk. The children are taught how to bring awareness to their environment and notice what they are grateful for.
They walk slowly in silence and write 3 things they are thankful for while using their senses. The kids are given instructions on how to observe their surroundings and their feelings. Then they share with their classmates how it felt to practice gratitude in the natural world.
Being exposed to nature and gratitude helped the children improve attention, self-discipline, cognitive development, sleep, and lower blood pressure. This fosters a life-long habit of spending time in nature and cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
Expressing gratitude has many positive health benefits. It doesn’t have to happen only once a year on Thanksgiving. There are very simple ways to practice gratitude every day. You can write in a gratitude journal, do a random act of kindness, slow down, practice self-compassion, or take a gratitude nature walk to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude. How do you practice gratitude every day? Let me know in the comments!