I started a gratitude journal a year ago, jotting down the first few things I was grateful for, that came to mind at the end of each day. I used it as a way to get out of a mental rut I was in. I genuinely believe that we attract what we reflect, and I wanted to feel grateful more often. By starting with small moments day by day, I started to notice thoughts of gratitude came easier, or were more significant, and I was generally feeling more positive as a result.
Gratitude involves reflecting on the moments and experiences that have brought you joy and feeling your appreciation for them. These are five easy ways that I incorporate gratitude into my daily life:
1. Gratitude Journal:
Reflecting on experiences from your day, jot down the first 3 to 5 things that pop to mind, no matter how small. Could be the fact traffic wasn’t bad that morning, or you got the kids to school ahead of schedule.
2. Thank You Notes:
Take a moment to appreciate the kindness or talents of another the good ol’ fashioned way. Compliment someone on a skill they shared with you or a gesture you were grateful for. Try writing it in a card or note, instead of typing an email. The extra human touch is a further demonstration of gratitude.
3. Gratitude Jar:
Each day through the holidays, write down something you are thankful for on a small piece of paper, and put it inside a mason jar, accumulating them through the month. Keep the jar tucked away until next year when you can pull out a memory each day through the season, and be reminded of the joy it brought. It’s a way of simultaneously acknowledging things you are grateful for today, and creating more gratitude in the future. This is also a great practice to complete with kids.
4. Body Scan:
As you are lying in bed at night, starting from the top of your head down to your toes, mentally scanning the body and lingering on areas that are completely relaxed. Acknowledge these spots by making mental “note of appreciation” for each part. For example, “I’m thankful for the lack of tension I feel behind my ears, along my collarbone, and between my toes.” This form of body gratitude can be especially helpful if you hold a lot of stress in your body, or are highly active.
If you find it hard to focus on what you are grateful for now, you may find it easier to focus on what you intend to be grateful for. Focus your visualization on feelings rather than objects, such as “I will feel grateful when I’ve made it through this week with a smile on my face,” lingering on the sensation of your smile, and how the satisfaction will feel at week’s end.
Try integrating one of these five practices over the holiday season to see if it helps you cultivate and sustain a positive attitude. Your happiest, and most present self, is one of the greatest gifts you can share with friends and family.
Tell me how you show gratitude and appreciation over the holiday season in the comment section below!