Being thankful isn't only for Thanksgiving. It should extend beyond the holiday and into your daily life. Don't we all need a little more gratitude in our lives? Yes, yes we do. But how? How do we mindfully practice gratitude and thankfulness each and every day? We have ten suggestions of things you can do to channel your inner thankfulness and express it in meaningful ways. Give these ideas a try and let us know how they work for you.
1. Start your day with a focus on thankfulness.
It's easy to focus on the things that go wrong in life. To complain. To feel discontent. Sometimes it takes mindful effort to be thankful. It's not hard, but it does require action on your part. One of the best ways to start your day on the right foot is by zeroing in on a few things you're thankful for right at the start of your day. I don't know about you, but I really look forward to my cup of coffee each and every morning. It's such a small thing but one that helps me start my day out right. I fully admit that it helps get me out of bed in the morning, so you can be sure that I appreciate it. When you wake up and open your eyes in the morning, just take a few minutes to think about what you are thankful for right then, right there. A warm bed? Loved ones? Cherished pets? A job to go to? A wonderful breakfast? A day off? Whatever it is, go ahead and spend some time focused on gratitude for the things you have in your life. It's a wonderful way to start each and every day.
2. Write down your thankful thoughts.
Take your thankfulness a step further by writing those thoughts down in a gratitude journal, your diary or anywhere you can keep a running list of these important things. When you're having a rough day, open up that journal and refresh your memory with all of the good things that are a part of your daily life. You'd be surprised how many people might want what you have. Give yourself a little perspective and time to refocus on the things that made your days better. You don't even have to write full sentences if you don't want to. Keep it short and sweet with a list or just jot down your ideas. Start a dialogue of gratitude and you're sure to see an attitude shift as well.
3. Say "thank you" out loud and more often.
Two simple words that can really make someone's day instantly brighter: thank you. Go ahead and use those words more often. Thank your barista for that perfectly crafted latte. Thank a coworker for their support and help on that big project. Thank your spouse for the little things they do every day that often go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank a stranger for taking that extra moment to hold the door for you. Not only will you feel better because you're focusing and verbalizing these positive moments, you'll encourage someone else and make them feel valued too. Win-win!
4. Practice mindful moments throughout your day.
When you find yourself caught up in some negative self talk or just a bad mood, practice a moment of mindfulness. Make a full stop of whatever you're doing or thinking and quickly find three things that you're thankful for and name them off in your head or out loud. It's an instant way to recenter on gratitude and flip a negative mindset to a positive one. I'm sitting at my desk right now feeling a little distracted and unmotivated, so I stopped and refocused on these three things: 1. My child is happily playing independently. 2. I have a comfy, cozy office with a job that allows me to work from home. 3. I have a day off tomorrow full of adventures that await. Bam! I'm feeling better already and more grateful. It only takes a few minutes and the effects are lasting. Try it!
5. Remember a time when you struggled and appreciate how far you've come.
Sometimes it's as simple as thinking back to a hard time in your life. You probably remember how you were feeling and what you were going through pretty vividly. Now look at your life in the present moment where you're not in that particular struggle and find comfort that you've moved on. You overcame. You persevered. You made it through. Breathe a deep sigh of relief and remember that you are capable, adaptable and in a different place. It's never good to dwell too much on the past, but to learn and grow from the challenges and hard times is something to remember and celebrate. It helps to cultivate an appreciation for yourself and your resilience, and in turn, you'll feel more grateful more often.
6. Express appreciation to your loved ones in words and deeds.
Saying "thank you" is one way to share and express thankfulness. Displaying your gratitude in deeds is another. Spend time with those who are an important part of your life and let them know that you care and value them. Quality time shared is a priceless gift that speaks volumes. Volunteer your time to give the gift of gratitude to a complete stranger. They may never know who you are or what you did but you can rest assured knowing that you made someone else's life better. You're both giving and receiving gratitude on a multitude of levels. Say more and do more things to show that you're thankful and see what a difference it makes in your life and in the lives of others.
7. Recognize and value the little things.
Remember that cup of coffee in the morning? Yes, that's a little thing but one that brings value to my day. What little things make your day brighter? Focus on those things. Savor them. Talk about them. Share them with others. More often than not, those little things add up and bring beauty, joy and meaning to your day in a big way. Appreciate them for what they are and please, please, please slow down enough from the busyness of life to take the time to notice them.
8. Stay active and get outside.
A healthy mind and body contribute to a healthy spirit. Set aside time to exercise. Get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Immerse yourself in nature for awhile. Taking care of your body affects your mental outlook and mood. You'll feel better and be better equipped to manage the stress of day-to-day life and balance it with all of the positive things that make life worth living. It will also be much easier to be thankful and maintain a mindset of gratitude.
9. Set aside some alone time to reflect on your day and clear your head.
Just like it's important to start your day with thankfulness, it's also helpful to end your day in the same way. Take some time for yourself and meditate on the events of the day. It's perfectly fine to recognize the things that didn't go so well, but make sure to mentally note the things that did go your way today. These thoughts then translate into gratitude for both the good and the bad. Learning a lesson or growing from a mistake can be an impetus for gratitude and change. It's all about how you perceive it and apply it to your life. But if you don't even take the time to consider these things, how will you grow to appreciate them? You probably won't. So go ahead and spend some quiet moments with yourself and your thoughts. Go for a walk. Revisit that gratitude journal. Or just lay back, close your eyes and reflect.
10. Pay it forward.
Did someone contribute to your day in a positive way today? Did they make you feel better? Did they notice and appreciate something about you? How did it make you feel? Now take that positive affirmation from someone else and pay it forward to someone in your life. Give them a boost of gratitude courtesy of you. Let that person know that they matter. They made a difference. They are appreciated. Don't we all need a little more encouragement in life? Yes. Be the change!
What's one thing you can do today to practice more thankfulness and gratitude?