In celebration of Thanksgiving week, we thought it appropriate to talk a bit about gratitude and what giving thanks really means. After all, isn’t giving thanks the purest form of gratitude? But having gratitude shouldn’t be reserved solely for Thanksgiving day.
Life can be stressful and when it is, sometimes we lose sight of our blessings. Ironically, it’s during those times of stress that having an attitude of gratitude is of particular importance. So what are some ways we can practice having a conscious attitude of gratitude? The options are almost limitless, but we can start off with a few ways that are easily incorporated into our daily lives:
Take the compliment-a-day challenge
This is an easy one that will not only make another person feel good, but it will also boost your personal positivity. Commit to give at least one compliment per day to someone you know, or perhaps even a stranger — this will help you to see all the things you have to be grateful for in your own life and will make someone else smile — making another person happy goes a long way in making you feel good and that keeps the positivity flowing.
Say “thank you”
You probably do this already, but make saying “thanks!” a conscious effort. People often under-estimate the power of “thank you” — saying it means “I appreciate you/it…I’m grateful for_____________.” Saying “thank you” shows that you’re mindful, considerate and…grateful.
Reach out to friends and family
Lots of people feel disconnected and indeed, even isolated these days. We all lead busy lives and sometimes, our relationships suffer as a result. An easy way to lift your spirits and help you to be more mindful of your relationships, is to reach out to someone every day. Give them a call, send a text, an email or drop in for a visit. Let those you love know that you’re thinking of them, even if it’s only a 5 minute conversation or quick email — studies show that having meaningful relationships is vital to feeling fulfilled and actually improves mental and physical well-being.
Start a Gratitude Journal
At the close of your day, spend a few minutes writing down 3 or more things that happened that day that you’re grateful for. This minimal investment of your time will force you to look at the good things in your life and over time, you’ll start to realize you have more to be grateful for than you ever realized.
Counter negative thoughts with positivity
When you have a negative thought or feel like complaining about something, find its polar opposite and focus in on that. For example, your co-worker talks to you non-stop during lunch and it can be a bit annoying. Instead of feeling annoyed, just think how much that person must like and respect you and, consider that perhaps they’re lonely or isolated and you’re their only real connection to a “friend.” The key is to counter negative speak and negative thoughts, with something good.
Being thankful is really the same as being grateful. I’m hopeful that more people will make the commitment to have an attitude of gratitude this Thanksgiving and all the year(s) through. To coin a popular phrase, “take time to smell the flowers” — joy, peace and gratitude are so often found in the simplest of pleasures in life and this is what leads to lasting positivity. And, as we know, positivity is an amazing power because the more of it we put out, the more of it that comes back to us — it becomes an auto-renewing power, much like a battery that always re-charges itself.