The Power of Gratitude – Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for the food on your table and the people in your life. Signs that say “be thankful” or “giving thanks everyday” are everywhere and for many people these signs bring them joy. However, Thanksgiving may bring up feelings of anger, loneliness, shame, sadness, or jealousy for you.
Perhaps there is tension in your relationship with a family member. Maybe you lost your job and it was difficult to make ends meet this month. Perhaps you lost a loved one, struggled with your health, or went through a breakup. Whatever the cause, being thankful doesn’t exactly feel warranted.
I can relate because I’ve been there. But as your Mindfulness and Happiness Coach, I want you to look beyond the upcoming holiday season and start making room in your life for gratitude.
Let’s begin by defining what gratitude actually means.
Being thankful for everything that has happened to you in your life is NOT the definition of gratitude. People will occasionally say, “I need to be grateful for the bad things that have happened to me because it led me to where I am today.” Yes, accepting who you are today to a greater extent requires acknowledging what has happened in your past. But advocating that you should be grateful for your negative experiences is a strategy that is comparable to toxic positivity. The idea that you should keep a happy attitude no matter how challenging the circumstances are is the definition of toxic positivity.
Finding appreciation in the simple things, especially when things are not going your way, is a spiritual and emotional act called gratitude. This mental shift provides you hope and enables you to change your focus from what is happening to you to what is happening for you. When you can find moments of thankfulness throughout your day, you are sending the Universe a message that you are open to receiving more goodness in your life.
If you’re just getting started with your gratitude practice or if you’re experienced but are having trouble coming up with things to be thankful for, I’d suggest the following:
- Download a gratitude app (free or premium); if you’re a visual learner, there are some great apps out there that allow you to upload photos as you write a gratitude entry. Furthermore, you can set the app’s notifications to remind you to practice!
- Do you prefer using a desktop computer to jot your thoughts down? Microsoft Word, as well as other gratitude websites, are excellent resources to help you on your journey.
- Invest in a journal that you like! Personally, I enjoy the Natural Life 5 Year Daily Journal. I like being able to reflect on what I was thankful for the same day last year as I write down what I’m grateful for this year. There is tremendous power in the link between your thoughts and the written word.
Remember, nothing is set in stone so you can switch up methods along the way.
Once you decide on what method you’d like to use to track your gratitude practice, I want you to dedicate 5 minutes or less to this every day. Yes, 5 minutes of less!
Either do this practice just before you go to bed or do it first thing in the morning. Doing this before bed will make it easier for you to fall asleep, and doing it in the morning will help you start the day with a peaceful heart. Feeling ambitious? Take note of what you’re grateful for in the morning and night.
Start your gratitude practice by asking yourself, “What am I grateful for today?” Consider asking yourself, “What can I appreciate in this moment?” if you’re having trouble coming up with a response.
You can choose to be as detailed or as brief in your response to this question. No response is right or wrong. Sometimes simply being alive is the biggest accomplishment of your day. You can write, “I am grateful for the sunshine this morning.” Or “In this moment, I appreciate that I am alive.”
Having trouble sticking with your gratitude practice? Set an alarm on your phone with a name that expresses what you are thankful for. For example: “I am grateful for my kids.” You’ll instantly smile when your alarm goes off.
Last but not least, consistency and care are essential for a successful practice. Because your mind is a muscle, you need to exercise it if you want a happier life. When you take care of your mind, you take care of your life. A regular practice is also crucial to your development. At first it may feel like something you have to do, but after a while it becomes easier. Trust me.
A focused practice has the power to transform your entire day. Suddenly the small things become the big things when you learn to value them. You will naturally be able to shift your perspective to one that is more loving and peaceful.
Remember, your gratitude practice is personal to you. Find a method that works for you and be kind to yourself in the process.
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Mindfulness and Happiness Coach
Founder of The Be Happy Project
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