I read something about gratitude on Pinterest that stuck with me. “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today.
That’s when I got serious about developing an attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude shouldn’t be a passing thought or every-now-and-then thing. It’s not that feeling of relief when the cop didn’t pull you over or you somehow managed to pass that test you didn’t study for. It should be an ongoing attitude that permeates your whole day, every day. This doesn’t mean life is all rainbows and unicorns. You’ll still have sad, mad and bad days. But once you adopt an attitude of gratitude, even your tough days have a backdrop of joy. The goodness in your life is always top of mind, and it’s harder to feel bad when you’ve trained yourself to see the good.
I have a list of several things I’m grateful for every day. My health, my warm, safe house, my job, security, my boyfriend and my dog, my family, etc. These are the big ones. The recurring ones.
But I try to come up with a few new and different ones every day. Chai lattes. Binge watching The Office on Netflix. My ability to survive a tough spin workout. My naturally curly hair. A little extra money to donate to someone’s GoFundMe. Salted caramel. The cherry blossom tree outside my house (pictured). My good skin. My dog’s Thundershirt, which lets her (and me) sleep during storms. Phone calls with my dad. Road trips. My jump rope. Lunch with a friend. You get the idea.
So how can you develop an attitude of gratitude? How does it become a daily habit?Here’s how:
Keep a gratitude journal
I love journals. Online, in print, on your phone – however you like to journal is fine by me. A daily gratitude journal could be as simple as a series of lists. Or you could expound on your entries to give the why’s and wherefores of what you’re grateful for. Either way, get your gratitude in writing. On your darkest days, your journal will be a comfort. Here’s why Oprah does it.
Set aside time to list what you’re grateful for
First thing in the morning. Last thing at night. On the way to school. In the shower. Wherever you have a quiet moment – preferably the same time every day – make gratitude a small mental ritual that quiets your mind. This is my preferred method. On the way to work, on a little stretch of road with sunlight slanting through the trees, I rattle off about ten or so things I’m grateful for. It relaxes and energizes me. Great way to start my day.
Make it a family thing
Gratitude can be contagious. And in families, it can be more than something you go around the table and rattle off at Thanksgiving. You can do it at the breakfast table, the dinner table, on carpool, before everyone goes their separate ways during the day. Never a time when everyone is together? There’s something to work on. But do it via text if you have to. Being together in gratitude for just five minutes a day will change more than you can imagine.
Make it a friends thing.
Sometimes gratitude is easier to see through someone else’s eyes. It helps them – and by extension, you – focus how much they have, not what they don’t have. The abundance of life, not the deprivation. There is always something to be grateful for and when you make a conscious effort to notice it, you see more and more things to be grateful for. That’s a gift worth sharing. Form a gratitude circle with your friends at the lunch table or via text or social media. It’s nice to have others remind you of the good things in your life and to do the same for them.
Start a gratitude jar.
Like the journal, writing down what you’re grateful for can make it more real. So why not have put a pad next to a jar and scribble down a few things as they occur to you? Watching the jar fill up can be a powerful reminder of your good fortune. Plus you can fish out a few pieces of paper when you’re feeling low for a quick pick-me up. Over time, you’ll have a cool snapshot of the year as it’s unfolding and all the good things that happened during it.
So what are you grateful for and how will you remind yourself of it every day. Do you already have an attitude of gratitude? Do tell!