In our “you can have it all” culture where we’re encouraged to “better” ourselves in regard to the way we look, what we achieve & the material possessions we have, we’re trained to constantly strive for more. While that’s not inherently good or bad, it unfortunately doesn’t leave much room for appreciating what we have in the here and now.
Though you may feel grateful for acquiring a material possession you long desired or reaching a goal you worked hard to achieve, the effects are temporary. What if instead, you learned to carry inside you a more constant state of gratitude even through life’s challenges? What if feeling gratitude becomes a natural extension of who you are?
Feeling grateful doesn’t mean you pretend to not feel discomfort or pain, it simply means that instead of dwelling on the difficult aspects of life, you shift your focus on what makes you feel appreciative. Doing so feels good and allows us to spread those good vibes to others.
Studies have shown that an attitude of being grateful calms the nervous system and helps us be healthier and happier. While gratitude is such a simple practice, in the context of our busy lives, remembering to do so isn’t so easy. With the holiday season upon us, having a gratitude practice can help transform your celebrations from being a blur of busyness to one of cherished moments.
Want to jumpstart a gratitude practice to ease into the holiday season? Try any of our tips to help make gratitude a natural part of your life.
Schedule Time for Gratitude
Until you get used to making gratitude a normal part of your day, you’re probably going to have to remind yourself to connect with it more. You can do this by posting reminder notes where you’d most likely see them such as on a mirror, desk or refrigerator. You can also set prompts on your cel phone’s alarm such as “Gratitude Time.” Our Life Coach in-a-Book and Yearly Planners are both designed with gratitude reminders.
Make Gratitude a Family Affair
Families rarely get to spend quality time together as they’re often pulled in different directions due to busy schedules and separate activities. If you’re looking for a way to strengthen family bonds and values, there’s no better way than to tell each other what you’re appreciative for. Plan a simple activity where each family member writes down what they’re grateful for each day of the week. (They can collect them in container.) At the end of the week, schedule family time to share, taking turns to read the messages with each other. You can download our 21-Day Gratitude Challenge template to get started!
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Journaling is a great tool to help you slow down and become more self-aware. It’s also useful as a form of self-expression. Dedicating a journal solely for what you’re grateful for is a great way to build your gratitude muscle. There’s no right or wrong way to journal and you don’t have to be a “writer.” Give yourself the freedom to express your gratitude in a single word, poetic phrase or sketch. Include your favorite quotes about gratitude, or simply make a list of words of gratitude that speak from your heart.
Gratitude on the Go
If you’re feeling impatient, overwhelmed or stressed, try this simple technique from HeartMath Institute. Just doing this exercise for a couple of minutes can shift you into a more uplifting state of being. First, slow down and acknowledge what you’re feeling. Next, pretend you’re breathing from your heart area. After a few slow, steady, deep breaths, bring the feeling of gratitude into your breathing. Maintain this heart-breathing for two-three minutes, anchoring in the feeling of gratitude. Committing to this practice for at least once a day for six weeks (the time it takes to create a new habit) will help you build resilience to face life’s challenges and experience a more joyful life. What’s great about this exercise is that you can do it on the go—at work, driving or whenever, without anyone knowing!
Make Gratitude Part of Your Daily Routine
If you already have a morning or evening routine, you can easily incorporate a gratitude practice into it. Focusing on what your grateful for before you start the day will help set the tone for an uplifting day. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong, this practice will retrain your brain to focus on what you appreciate. For your evening routine, you can reflect on what you’re grateful for that day. As you make time to fill your inner well with the positive vibes of gratitude on a regular basis, you’ll begin to step into a new way of being and a more fulfilling, happier life.
We’d love to hear what gratitude practice is making a difference in your life.