Here we are in the middle of May – exactly six months from last Thanksgiving and six months until next Thanksgiving – which makes it the perfect time for us to pause and check in on how we’re doing with our mission of gratitude.
Many of us accepted the idea of being more grateful and sharing gratitude last year at Thanksgiving. Then, as the new year dawned, we once again reaffirmed our willingness to continue putting more gratitude out into the world. But no matter how good our intentions, life sometimes derails our best efforts; family and children take precedence, work beckons, or we simply get caught up in the daily hum of life and our attention to gratitude falls by the wayside. That’s why now is the perfect time to refresh our awareness of gratitude. Remember that gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and generally makes us happier. So let’s let the last six months serve as a guide and see where we can breathe some fresh spring air back into our mindset of living gratefully with these five helpful ideas.
Start a gratitude journal.
Maybe you started one of these six months ago — but have you jotted anything in it lately? Or maybe you’ve been meaning to start one but just never got around to it. Today’s the day. You don’t need anything special; a simple notebook will do. Or, if you like, choose a decorative journal or diary and begin the practice of writing three things each day. Did you see the sunrise? Was there no line at the café? Did you cuddle with your pet? You’ll quickly discover there’s more to jot down than you thought. Then, when Thanksgiving comes this year, take a look and marvel at all the good in your life that was packed into six short months.
Give at least one compliment a day.
The power of simplicity is amazing. Something so easy as saying, “I love how you look in that color, “ or “You did such a great job, “ or “It was so nice of you to hold the door for me, “ can make someone’s day go from drab to wonderful in seconds and change their entire day for the better. You can even ask someone to share your appreciation of something like, “I love that first, cozy sip of coffee in the morning, don’t you?” Extending a compliment or sharing appreciation is contagious, and others who receive your gracious gift will have a higher tendency to pass a compliment along to someone else, too. Because of you, a ripple effect of gratitude will be created.
Set a daily intention.
When intentions are added to gratitude, we go from being grateful for what we have to being grateful for what we want to happen, whether it’s people, circumstances, or things. Intentions make us grateful for what we’re hoping to realize and experience in that day, like a healthy breakfast, patience throughout the day, or getting to the next step in a project. An intention can also be to do something kind for someone else, or even to let someone do something for you — not so easily done for people who have a hard time asking for help. Set your intentions by taking a moment to close your eyes and get grounded by determining what you want your immediate focus to be.
A big part of being able to feel gratitude is in knowing how to forgive — not just others, but yourself, too. Freeing yourself from anger, resentment, and grudges will open your heart and release any negative feelings. Forgiveness doesn’t have to happen in one fell swoop. It can be a gradual process and doesn’t necessarily have to involve the person who wronged you. Forgiveness is something that is ultimately for yourself.
Embrace the moment.
This is something that we really don’t give due diligence. You saw the moon the other night, but did you really see it? Or were you too focused on getting where you needed to go? Did you think about how vast the universe is and how everything is working in concert for the greater good? Did you pass by a field of sunflowers without a second thought? Or did you notice how happy they made the landscape and then how they lifted your mood just because you saw them? Even better, did you pull over with your kids or friends and take a minute to snap a photo to remember that moment by? Stop and breathe, take in your surroundings and pay attention to your senses because these are the moments that matter; these are the moments we never get back. Stop. See. Feel. Embrace them.
What are your favorite ways for keeping gratitude fresh and top of mind? We’d love to hear them! And, as a special reminder, click here to download and print the above image!