What can we do to feel grateful the other 364 days of the year?
Why is it that we wait for Thanksgiving to practice giving thanks? Think of the joy that gratitude gives you during Thanksgiving. Why not experience that joy all the time? Let’s declare Thanksgiving every day. Here are 5 tips on how to practice gratitude on a regular basis:
- Schedule Gratitude: Make a commitment to yourself to set time aside to practice gratitude. Mornings are a great time for gratitude; it starts your day off on a positive note. You can also try practicing gratitude in the evening. This is a great way to reflect back on your day and be thankful for something or someone.
Also, you can try practicing gratitude in the middle of the day. This can help give you an emotional boost in case you are bogged down from work in the morning and need a mental boost of energy to get through the afternoon.
- Balance between verbal and non-verbal: Take the time to thank people throughout your day as soon as they do something worthy of gratitude. Verbal gratitude is always best when given right after the act. However, sometimes giving gratitude to someone a day or two after can also be effective to make their day because it shows that their gratitude-worthy act has a lasting effect. Non-Verbal is important too, since there are less limits on how often you can practice non-verbal gratitude. Be conscious of the self-dialogue you have in your head, and notice how often you are being thankful. As you become aware of your self-dialogue, start to incorporate more gratitude self-talk throughout the day.
- Thank yourself: Think of a reason every day why you should thank yourself. Did you take a break throughout the day to meditate? Thank yourself for that. Did you eat healthy or work out as planned? Thank yourself for that. Even if you didn’t have the most productive day, a reason to thank yourself can also be as simple as thanking yourself for getting out of bed, or brushing your teeth. Practicing gratefulness towards yourself will develop your skill of appreciation against one of your toughest critics (yourself!).
- Write down your gratitude: Start with a piece of paper that you carry with you through the day, and jot down things, events, people that you are thankful for. Or, to get a bit more formal and as a tool to help keep you a bit more accountable, start a gratitude journal. I’ve used a journal called “The Five Minute Journal” that structures your gratitude in an easy-to-answer format.
- Have fun with it: As you practice gratitude, you may notice patterns in what you are grateful for. It may be gratitude towards a specific person all the time, or a specific event. Keep this going, but don’t be afraid to explore what else you can be thankful for. Look beyond people and think about things nearby that you may be thankful for. You can also try to practice gratitude towards the natural world – air, trees, weather, or the ground. One fun technique that I’ve recently tried is to choose any object in sight, and think about the work, time, cost, and attention to detail that went into creating it. For example, if you are walking down the street and see a bus shelter, don’t just be thankful for the fact that you can catch the bus there. Think of the people that designed the structure so that it withstands the weather. Think about the detail and testing that might have went on to make sure the shelter was safe enough to build. Think about the people who had to ship the materials of the shelter, perhaps overseas, to make sure they arrived on time.
I hope you can use at least one of these tips to start practicing gratitude on a daily basis so that you don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to feel the positive effects of gratitude. Thank you for reading this post.
By Bryan Palma