#grateful is always kind of trendy this time of year. But do we actually take the time to foster an attitude of gratitude? Or do we just add it to our perfectly filtered photos on Instagram? How do we make gratitude practice a habit so that it impacts our real life?
In a previous post, we explored the connection between gratefulness and its ability to improve our well-being. We even took a look at a scientific study that showed that gratefulness may actually cause better well-being. Today, we hope to offer some practical suggestions for how to be more grateful, and how you can really make it a habit that sticks.
- Gratitude journal. Also somewhat trendy, but it actually can work. Get in the habit of physically writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for each morning. Do this before you do anything else. It will get your mind right for the rest of the day.
- Phone alarm/reminders. Now, this may be cheesy, but we've tried it and it works. Set reminders on your phone to grab your attention and shift your mindset toward gratitude throughout the day. Is there a time of day you consistently struggle to be happy? - Maybe this is a good time for the "gratitude notification."
- Mealtime with family. Think about starting your family meal with each family member sharing something they are grateful for and why. Your kids may groan, but it's a great way to impart a good and helpful habit to the entire family.
- Gratitude list on the wall. Hang up some poster board somewhere in your home with a marker nearby. Challenge your family to fill the poster board before the end of the month with different things they are thankful for. Post-it notes around the house are fun too!
A few tips before we close:
• Usually just simply quickly listing your grateful "things" isn't as effective. For maximum effectiveness, try to"feel" your gratitude. Spend a minute or two meditating and thinking about why you're grateful for that particular thing. Make it real in your mind. Do you love hearing your kids sing in the backseat on the way to school? Use your mind to transport yourself to that place and "feel" the reasons you're grateful.
• It's great to be thankful for all things. But challenge yourself to stay away from repeating things too often, the obvious ones, and the big things. Look for small things you have to intentionally look for in your daily life (examples: a hint of fall chill, how your favorite soap smells, your husband putting the toilet paper roll on correctly - with the end pointing down of course, etc.).
It's been shown that gratitude can improve your well-being. It's more than exercise, healthy eating, and good posture. Improve your well-being through gratitude, and enjoy life! Remember, you can be grateful for the tough things in life too! After all, it's those things that push us, change us, and grow us!