Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s easy to let the concept of gratitude fade in the everyday busyness of life. But the fact is, gratitude is an attitude you can cultivate and develop. When you do, you will find not only psychological benefits, but physical benefits, too. When you have a mindset prone to gratitude, you can shore up your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and enjoy more restful sleep. You may even be able to reduce your aches and pains.
Psychologically, you will simply feel more joy because you will actively seek to be joyful. You’ll have a more positive outlook on life because feeling grateful will contribute to your sense of optimism. You’ll be more generous and forgiving. That, in turn, will help you be more compassionate. In short, when you practice gratitude, you’ll be happier and possibly even healthier.
How can you develop a practice of being grateful throughout your life?
Keep a journal. Even if you aren’t a journal writer, or any kind of writer, buy a little notebook and get a pen you really like. At the end of each day, just make note of three things you are grateful for. These can range from the infinitesimal—the beautiful orange leaf you saw in the driveway—to the extraordinary—the daughter you adopted when she was three. And if the evening isn’t a good time for reflection, pick any time of the day. Just know it’s easiest to make it a habit when you do it at the same time of day, every day. So first thing in the morning, while the house is still and quiet, can be a very good time to write about what you’re grateful for. The key is to do it regularly. Then you will establish a practice of gratitude.
Meditate. Can you think of a better mantra than ‘gratitude’? If you meditate, consider adding the word ‘gratitude’ to your meditation practice. So when you take a break to meditate, light your incense to enhance your experience and chant your mantra. Think of all the things you’re grateful for. Or maybe just focus on one different thing every day that you’re grateful for. Devote your practice to gratitude. And if you don’t have a practice of daily meditation, consider starting one. You’ll probably be thankful that you did.
Share your feelings. If you are grateful, you will multiply and magnify that wonderful feeling when you share it with family and friends. Give the prayer at your Thanksgiving dinner. Toast your friends when you meet for a drink after work. Let them know you are grateful for their support and friendship. Make it a habit to tell those near and dear to you how much they mean to you. Thanksgiving shouldn’t the end of gratefulness for the year. Make it the beginning.
Write a note. After you’ve had a chance to feel grateful for a while, you might detect a pattern. Perhaps you keep coming back to the teacher who encouraged you when you otherwise thought you deserved to eat dirt. Take this opportunity to write him a note or call him or contact him and let him know what he meant to you. This may be an act you find difficult to perform, but know that anyone who receives this kind of affirmation will be thrilled. So do it. Make someone happy. And you, yourself, will be happy too.
Seek opportunities to be thankful. Yes. Look for things that make you feel grateful and take note, if only in your head. And seek out people who are like-minded. When you’re walking down the street, ask yourself what, in this experience, can make you thankful. When you’re in a room full of people, ask yourself, who in this room bubbles over with enthusiasm? Who shares your gratitude for life? Cultivate that person. Enjoy that person. Be that person. When you surround yourself with experiences and people who make you feel grateful, you will naturally feel grateful. And better. And happy. And good.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact