3 Ways to Practice Gratitude


Don’t do a double take--it’s not even close to Thanksgiving (though we all know it will be in the blink of an eye.) But, we figure it’s time for a gratitude reminder and refresh--we were in need anyways! It’s easy to keep up with all the warm and fuzzy feelings when the lights are twinkling and the family is all gathered around the table and nights are cozy on the couch. Then winter comes and it stays and we look around and can’t seem to see anything but bare branches and our breath in the bitter cold air for far longer than we would like. We start grumbling about the dreary days and the potholes and forgetting all the things we were so thankful for just a few months back. Just us!? Today we’re reminding ourselves to practice gratitude all year long and inviting you to do so with us with three super simple everyday approaches!

1. Simplicity Notes
This is something I’ve (Rachel) definitely shared on before and probably will lots more times. I think this originated for me somewhere between high school and college. It really is simple. On days when I could only seem to find the worst, I would force myself to find little lovely things. Anything really, and I mean anything little. It could be catching a green light that I always seemed to get stopped at, pulling out the exact change at the register, or even just noticing that something didn’t go as poorly as it could have. Sometimes it was a stretch, but I would give myself a number and force myself to find that much good in that day--because I knew it was there, I was just stubborn and mopey and reluctant to see it. Back in the ages when Facebook notes were a thing, I would publish them and look back on them often. Once I had my own blog, I would right them there. I’m sure they’re scattered throughout decades of journals as well. This is something I still practice in my life. They may not be official public works at this point, but that's because the habit is in place. I must confess that often times my initial, flesh reaction is not what I would hope for, but I’m usually able to pull it together pretty quickly and see all the good things even in hard moments. But let me be clear--that’s not because I’m just some super human, peppy, positive person. It’s taken years of practice and habit forming. So start simple. If you find yourself all grumpy and grumbly at the end of the day or maybe in the middle of the day, or heck, maybe even at the very start of your day...pull out your journal or a sheet of paper or write it on the family whiteboard. Make a quick simplicity list. I promise that once you start you’ll be amazed at how quickly the list grows! There really is so much to be grateful for!

2. Gratitude Mantras
You’re going to know exactly what I’m talking about as soon as I say it….we all have them, I just know it. Those cute and catchy succinct little sayings that are just ours. The ones that just flow our of our mouths without any thought. Like the way your mom can’t help but add, “BE CAREFUL,” to the end of every statement ever. Is that just my mom? Anyways, I think that having these is essential in regards to gratitude. I’m not sure where I picked mine up, but it’s certainly stuck.

“Worse things have happened.”

That’s my bad day, find the beauty, grateful heart mantra. When I get all stuck in the icky days, I force myself to say this. This is not the worse thing that has happened to me nor is it the worst that eve will, and it’s absolutely NOT the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world. And then from there, I start listing all the okay things about it--all the things that could have gone wrong or been worse. For example, when I left my wallet on the bus a couple of months ago. I was so annoyed with myself and worried because I really couldn’t do anything about it until the next day. It was quite literally out of my control. First there were some tears, of course there was anxiety, and then I took the deep breaths and centered myself. I told myself that it was not the worst thing that had ever happened. I reminded myself that i was lucky all of my cards weren’t in there, that I lived in a city that has a really effective and efficient lost and found system for our public transit, and that I was blessed to have other resources to live on in the meantime. And then I waited and I dealt. If you don’t have a gratitude mantra or song or speech, I suggest you get one and get it on in your head and i your heart on repeat each and every day--even when it seems unnecessary--because that’s the only way it’s going to kick in when you really need it most!

3. Pass it On
Gratitude is absolutely contagious--like a bad cold but in the best way possible! If you are having a day when you’re feeling particularly on top of the world and super thankful for life in general, SHARE IT! Don’t keep it to yourself! Make a quick post or share a blessing you’ve received with someone else. Get that grateful spirit out into the open air where everyone can breathe it in! The world needs so much more of that. You may think it’s a silly, simple, unimportant thing, but you never ever know who might take it to heart. It could turn someone’s day or week or even month around to see how you are practicing gratitude in your own life. To be honest, the simplicity notes were mostly for me and my own personal heart status, but I know they so often encouraged so many other people because I shared them. And not only sharing our gratitude, but sharing our struggle to be continually grateful! It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we’re grumpy or ungrateful, but remembering that it’s something we all have to practice and fight for on the daily is relieving and refreshing for everyone!

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