“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”Melody Beatie
A holiday of thanks.
‘Tis the season for giving thanks. And stuffing our faces (then regretting it). And worrying about whether our cousin Tim still owes us twenty bucks. And having to pick whether we go to this family’s house or that friend’s house for the holiday. And preparing for a four-day shopping spree marathon. And, oh my god I can’t afford any of this but I have to because everybody expects me to.
Does any of this sound familiar? Does it feel like some important part of this holiday is consistently under-valued?
Why should you bring gratitude into your day?
Let’s take it back to the most important question: Why? Why is gratitude important for YOU?
There are lots of studies telling you how gratitude changes your brain (for real) and how gratitude has profound physical and psychological payoffs. That’s all well and great, but what does it mean for you in your daily life? What if I told you that you could feel far more calm in your mind during this busy season? How about feeling more connected with all of the people around you? Or maybe you want to feel like you don’t have to rush around quite so much, and the sense of pressure to be all things to all people could be lifted off your shoulders?
Those are the real-life payoffs of gratitude. You don’t even have to understand the science and fMRI data in order to get them. All you have to do is practice.
How to practice gratitude
It almost feels silly to tell somebody how to be grateful. It’s just saying what you are thankful for, right? Yes it is AND there are some great things to keep in mind as you do so.
- It doesn’t have to be some gigantic thing that you are grateful for. Live into the idea that gratitude for small things is just as important as gratitude for big things.
- Be grateful for the people in your life. Whether they are your best friends, or the person who held the door for you at Starbucks.
- Try being grateful for emotions, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ones. Be grateful for the joy you feel when you wake up and don’t have to go to work tomorrow. Be grateful for impatience in the line at the store that is trying to help you accomplish the big to-do list.
The most important aspect of gratitude is to remember to do it. It doesn’t take any time, you can do it in the blink of an eye. Most of us aren’t in the practice of doing it though, so we forget. Setup some triggers for yourself. Every time you open a door, or every time you sit in your car, think of one thing you are grateful for. If you feel gratitude come up when you are interacting with somebody – say it out loud (people love hearing that you appreciate them, especially if it is without a ‘good reason’).
Take a moment right now and simply answer – What are you grateful for in this moment?
Lastly – it’s important for us to remember that we are worth doing this more than one day out of the year. The more gratitude we live in, on a regular basis, the better our lives are.