I had a very dear friend who’s answer for every one of my problems was, “Try to keep an attitude of gratitude”. At the time it sounded a little patronizing, like she was minimizing my struggles. But I realize now she was just trying to divert my attention to all of the many blessings I had in my life.
That moment really came full circle for me about a year after my Dad’s passing. I was talking to my husband about him, something reminded me of a favorite memory I have of my Dad, and in that moment I realized I wasn’t sad to have lost him, but rather, extremely grateful to have had so many wonderful memories with such an incredible man.
Life can get crazy busy and it seems it’s never been easier to get caught up in the things I don’t have, trips I’m not taking, things I can’t afford to buy in the age of social media. Sometimes I need a strong reminder about what kind of attitude I want to have so here are a few things I do on a daily or weekly basis to practice gratitude.
- Affirmations – We all have negative self-talk. You know the kind you’d never say to anyone else but say in your head as you look in the mirror, or fail a test, or make a mistake, etc… For me lately, I’ve been super critical of my body. So instead of saying, “You’re so fat” I’ve been saying, “You worked out 4 times this week! You’re getting stronger everyday! I’m so grateful to have a healthy body to carry me through my day.” Whatever it is you’re the most critical of about yourself, find the inverse affirmation and practice it every morning and night in the mirror. It’s amazing what a little positive affirmation can do!
- Lift Up A Friend – Most of us are out here trying to have our presence and work acknowledged. Maybe you have a friend who just launched a new podcast – try sharing it on your social media and spread the word! Maybe someone else you know just decided to go back to school/work – send them a congratulations card (by mail, not email!). Create a cycle of positive energy out in the world!
- Keep A Gratitude Journal – This one seems obvious, and sometimes a little silly, but it really works! Each day I try and write down 5 things I’m grateful for in my planner. If you’re feeling stuck or having a particularly hard day where you feel there is little to be grateful for, think about some of these examples: clean drinking water, safe shelter at night, a place to shower, shoes on your feet, a friend you can always call on, a favorite childhood memory, your bad days (because they make the good days even better).
- Give Back – Speaking of all of those small things to be grateful for, think of all of those without a shower, roof over their head, and shoes on their feet. Start a food drive in your community, donate last year’s coat to a local homeless shelter, mentor a child in a tough situation, visit an Assisted Living facility as a family on the weekend. I can guarantee you’ll feel 100x better afterwards and want to keep doing it.
- Turn Everything Into A Gift – Go throughout your day as normal, but try thinking of it a little differently. Instead of a morning coffee, think of it as the gift of coffee. The gift of being woken up at 5am by your children. The gift of laughter. The gift of work. The gift of routine. The gift of chaos. The gift of ______. You name it!
Photo by Julia Elizabeth for Lucky Penny.