ATTITUDE OF (PRACTICING) GRATITUDE – “You can’t have a rainbow without the rain!”
2020 has been a difficult year for many. The ups and downs and the uncertainty that COVID has brought into our lives pulled many people into a place where they are struggling to see the positives that life has to offer, and I totally get that!
But adopting a positive mindset for sure is a critical piece of finding peace and happiness in this strange new world. Part of creating a positive mindset is all about practicing gratitude. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a great time to think about the things we are grateful for and put gratitude into practice.
And if you ask me, Thanksgiving or any other day, November or any other month, take 5 minutes to look closely at what’s going well in your life and express gratitude for them. Trust me, even on a really bad day, you will still find plenty!
Having practiced gratitude almost my whole entire life, I cannot tell you how much it has contributed to my overall happiness and wellbeing. Thanks to my parents for instilling this in me and my brother since birth (they didn’t even have to teach us, we watched them and followed suit) our days begin and end with being thankful for everything that we have been blessed with, and that is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world!
But what really is the attitude of gratitude?
First, let’s talk about what gratitude is. Simply put, gratitude is a mindset and an attitude toward life and is the act of purposely thinking about the things in your life that you have, whether that is friends and family, a job you love, what you are proud of about yourself, or possessions you own (including your physical and mental health).
This thankful appreciation for the things in your life will in turn help you to create a positive mindset in your life. And this positive mindset will always create a positive life around you, and no better way to get started on it than practicing gratitude!
Why is practicing gratitude important?
There have been many studies done about practicing gratitude and the effect it has on your life in both mental and physical ways. As you begin to regularly practice gratitude you’ll find that your happiness levels will increase dramatically and the feelings of positive emotions you experience will also increase in frequency. Practicing gratitude also has a positive effect on your physical health and your ability to process/manage stressful situations.
A grateful heart also has the ability to form and maintain strong relationships with their loved ones.
When you focus on creating a grateful mind and heart, the world around you begins to change, you’ll begin to see the good parts in your life, even on the bad days. Situations like COVID-19 create a variety of struggles for everyone in one way or another. Whether you’re struggling financially, with your mental health, physical health, or something else there has never been a better time to get started on practicing gratefulness.
By making gratitude a part of your daily life, you have more control over your mind to focus on the positives. And yes, it does need to be something you take an active role in.
Gratitude helps you to connect with something larger than yourself because you begin to recognize that the positives in life exist partially outside of yourself. People, nature, and a higher power are all common to show gratitude to.
Journaling Ideas To Help You Get Started
Journaling is one of the best ways you can begin to practice gratitude and a gratitude journal is a place where you can record the good things in life. Yes, it really is that simple to get started!
When getting started with a gratitude journal, remember that it can be anything that you want it to be, whatever works for you. You can write a shortlist every day about the things you are grateful for or you can go more in-depth into the details. Whatever you choose, choose something that works for you and how you’re feeling each day.
5 ideas to get yourself started with a gratitude journal
1. Take a look at yourself. When you first start journaling, start with questions about yourself. Ask yourself: ‘what do I like about yourself?’, ‘what are my strengths?’, ‘is there a particular skill you excel at?’, or ‘what accomplishments are you proud of?’. This is a simple way to start focusing on what you are grateful for and it gives you a reminder to feel good about yourself, too.
2. Think about how you would feel if you didn’t have certain things in your life. Reflect on what life would look like without a certain person, or item that you say you are grateful for. By focusing on how life could look very different without specific things, it’s easy to see what you are truly grateful for.
3. Focus on the element of surprise. Surprises are either loved or loathed by most people. Think about a time that you were surprised and the outcome was a positive one. Writing out life’s unexpected, can be a great way to break up the routine of everyday life and give you a new perspective on what you are grateful for.
4. Focus on the good. This one sounds simple and it is. When you want to shift to a more grateful mindset, actively look for the good in the world. You can focus on the good that you do in your life or that others do for you or you can even focus on the good you see in others. Maybe you noticed a stranger helping someone cross the street, or your neighbor shoveled your sidewalk for you. Even the smallest good deeds shouldn’t go unnoticed.
5. Flip the switch on challenges. We are conditioned to focus on challenges being a negative part of life. Use your journal to flip that switch. It can be helpful to focus on the positive learning experiences from the challenges we face.
When we practice gratitude it’s not to say that we never have a bad day or a negative mindset, but having a journal full of things you are grateful for can be a really great way to snap out of it quickly.
Practicing Gratitude As A Family
When you are a parent, there are always a million things in your mind and now you may be wondering how to practice gratitude with your family. Here are some simple ideas to practice gratitude from Positive Psychology that you can do with your family, even when your kids are young!
1. Start a gratitude jar. Find a jar or container of some sort that will be your dedicated gratitude jar. Take some time to decorate it with your kids and prepare slips of paper. Once the crafting part of this activity is done, everyone will commit to writing out one thing they are grateful for and adding it to the jar. Periodically, sit down and read the notes in your jar as a family or pull out the jar on a particularly bad day.
2. Go on the hunt for gratitude rocks. Take the kids out for a walk and search for the perfect gratitude rock for each member of your family. These rocks serve as a physical reminder of all the things you have to be grateful for. The nice part about this activity is that rocks can be any shape or size so it’s easy to keep them right with you in your pocket or purse, on your desk, or on a chain. Whenever you see or touch it, think about at least one thing you are grateful for and at the end of the day remember the things that came to mind throughout the day.
3. Create a gratitude box. This is similar to the gratitude jar, but it can be used as a way to share your feelings with loved ones too. This idea works great in families. Create a box for each person in your family and at least once per week commit to adding a note to each family member’s box. If you’re stuck with what to write here are 3 prompts: “Thank you for…”, “What I love about you…”, and “My wish for you is…”.
4. Gratitude prompts. These prompts are perfect for families, and they cover a wide range of topics. Prompts can include “I’m grateful for 3 things I can touch”, “I’m grateful for three friends”, and “I’m grateful for three items in my house”. There are a ton of prompts you can put together and it makes it easy to sit down and talk about them or write them out as a family.
5. Put together a gratitude flower. This is a fun craft activity that can make learning gratitude fun for even young kids. Cut out the center of your flower and write, “I am thanks for” on it. Then cut out your flower petals. On each petal write something that you are thankful for. This craft is great because you spend 1:1 time with your family, do something fun, and learn to be grateful all in one shot. It also serves as a reminder that can be displayed in your home.
Not sure these are the right fit? Check out the full article on Positive Psychology for more ideas!
Practicing gratitude takes patience and commitment but I promise that if you take an active part in it, your mindset will change and mindset is a powerful thing.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”