With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this week seemed like a good time to discuss methods to help increase feelings of thankfulness. In my introductory blog post, I talked about the personal benefits of gratitude, but how exactly can we choose to feel thankful? Especially when recent events make it difficult to see the positive, how can we foster an attitude of gratitude? The answer is intention.
It is easy to fall into a habit of negativity. Most of us naturally pay more attention to what doesn't feel good, than to what does. Sometimes this tendency serves us well, because it allows us to focus on and fix the things that aren't going well. However, if we never take breaks to enjoy the small things that are going well for us, we'll burn out. We have the ability to shift our attitude toward gratitude by being intentional about identifying the parts of our lives for which we feel thankful.
notice the little things
We don't have to wait for "the best day ever" to be thankful. If we pay close attention, we can learn to notice and feel grateful for the sun coming through the window, a deep breath that feels good, a refreshing gulp of cold water. Practice checking in with yourself a couple of times a day (maybe even set an alert on your phone to help you remember) and finding a handful of things that you can appreciate about the moment. It may feel difficult or unnatural at first, but it gets easier with practice.
write them down
Once we've gotten into the habit of noticing opportunities to feel grateful, it can be really helpful to write these things down. Consider starting a gratitude journal. Each night, make a list of 3 to 5 things that you feel grateful for. This will help you solidify and internalize the sense of thankfulness that comes up, and will also provide you with a record to look back on when you need a reminder of the good things in your life.
SAY IT OUT LOUD
If you notice people showing up in your gratitude list, let them know how you feel about them. Say "thank you" out loud to the people and experiences for which you're feeling gratitude. You'll notice how happy it makes people feel to be appreciated, which will enhance your own feelings of thankfulness. Being intentional about noticing, recording, and communicating gratitude leads to the development of a very healthy and positive habit that contributes to our overall happiness.
What are you feeling grateful for today? Do you keep a journal? Let's discuss in the comments!