Are you tired of all the news about happiness and gratitude and how being happy and being thankful are so good for our health and well-being?
I don’t seem to get tired of it. Sometimes I do think, Well duh, that’s not really news. but I still pretty much dig the message. I also don’t need any scientific evidence that being happy and thankful is good for me. I mean, doesn’t it seem like we should be able to instinctively go with happiness and gratitude as life-affirming ways of being? You’d think.
Anyway, sometimes I do poke a little fun at the whole happiness trend myself but having an Attitude of Gratitude, as some of our friends would say, really doesn’t hurt. Being grateful for the little things in life helps us feel more appreciative of the bigger things and, overall, tends to fuel our happiness. That old adage “Count Your Blessings” matters because whatever you pay attention to and appreciate will grow bigger in your life.
So, what if you’re just feeling . . . pretty much UNgrateful?
It happens, so here are 5 Ways to Practice Being Thankful
- Stop and think about it. We can say we’re grateful until the cows come home, but for what? Stop and actually take a few (or many) minutes to settle into your thoughts, quiet your mind and maybe your environment, and come up with a short list of what you can be thankful for. It doesn’t have to be short, but if you’re new to this practice, a short list is easier to manage.
- Write down your short list. There’s something about the tactile act of either handwriting or typing out your list and reading it. I will remember the visual of what color ink I used, what type of paper I wrote on and even whether I scribbled in the margins of something else or made a tidy, dedicated list to tear or print out and hang up. The point is, the physical act of writing your list down will make it more real.
- Read your list. I know you already read it as you wrote it down, but now re-read it. Take a minute to reflect again on why you’re thankful. My suspicion is that it will be a little like brainstorming and each item on the list will help you think of additional things you’re thankful for. You might even elaborate on some of them. What if it’s only one thing? Then good for you for getting started.
- Refer back to your list. As you go through your day (or the next day), remember the list of things you decided you were thankful for—thankful enough that you wrote them down. Be thankful for them all day long—not just at the time you made your list. Enjoy them. Bask in them.
- Make a new list. Do it often. Maybe yesterday you were thankful to have a great amount of energy but today you don’t have as much. That’s ok—maybe today you don’t have as much because you stayed up late chatting with a friend over drinks. Today you can write, “I am thankful to have a great friend I can stay up late and enjoy a cocktail with.” The point, again, is to notice things in your life you can be thankful for.
You will start to notice more and more things that are good in your life. The little things really will start to add up to bigger things and you will invite those good things into your life.
Here’s my list for today:
- I’m thankful I can be here with Leif this week. (He’s been traveling and since this is his third week away from home, I came to be with him and drive home with him.)
- I’m thankful for the fun summer weather. I mean, summer is supposed to be hot, isn’t it?
- I’m thankful the libraries are a great place for me to work. (They have good wi-fi, inexpensive snack bars, and are easier environments for me to focus.)
- I’m thankful I’m figuring out what to do when my body freaks out on me in public. I still get nervous, but I’m getting better.
- I’m thankful I get to see good friends tonight.
Simple. On the surface, they’re very simple, but as I reflect on them, they represent big things going on in my life right now and the fact that I’m handling all of it really well. #6—I’m sure thankful for that.
I would love if you’d join me in this practice. What are you thankful for today?