As we turn the calendar to November (and ever closer to year’s end), here in America, thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. The “official” time for gratitude.
However, thanks-giving can be much more than a once a year holiday. Feeling thankful can be developed into a daily practice. Not only because it’s good for you – science has proven that a gratitude practice improves your physical and psychological health. Science also has shown that grateful people sleep better, have higher self esteem, less aggression and are in general, better friends. What’s more, gratitude, or feeling thankful, simply FEELS good.Gratitude: (noun) the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.
And yet, it’s all well and good to know that being grateful is good for you and that you should do it, but if we’re gonna be grateful, let’s be real about it. This practice is not about always being positive or sugarcoating the pain – it’s about feeling grace, deep down for the big and small things. For the growth, the challenge, the love and the life.
And so I ask, what are you grateful for?
Here are three practical and easy ways to start your practice:
1) Get Some Gratitude Clarity. There are things we think we should be grateful for – the well-paying job, the trip to Hawaii (with the in-laws), the sweet car – but if it doesn’t resonate, if it’s not important, it’s not going to generate true gratitude. Start with this list. Write down everything you *think* you should show some thanks. Where might someone expect it? What might look good on this list?
2) The little things. Next up, tackle the little things. The every day things we don’t pay attention to. The farmer that tills the food you eat. The truck driver that drove it to the store, or the delivery person that got it right to your home. Give thanks for your feet that carry you wherever you need to go through out the day. For your hands and their ability to text your loved ones and deliver food to your mouth. Identify some of the little things that go unnoticed as your move through your day, but without them life may not be so sweet.
3) Specificity. Now, name three things you’re really grateful for. And next to each one, describe WHY you’re grateful for it. For example: I’m grateful for my car. It delivers me and my children safely to school and work. We camp in it over the summers, road trip and go on adventures in it. Within it’s confines we have singing contests, tell stories and laugh out loud. Being specific gives gratitude more power.
Bonus round: Go Deep. In this last one, dig deep. What stretched you? When have you learned more than you ever thought possible? What has moved you? These ones are not something we’re typically grateful for in the moment, but given some time, we can see a little more clearly. Often it’s through contrast, through mistakes and pain, that we learn the most. What are you grateful for now that you’re on the other side?
Give one or all of these a try, and if you can, make gratitude a daily practice. There’s zero downside and you might just be a nicer person because of it!
What are you grateful for today?
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