You see this as you watch parents and other caregivers with small children; as they tell the little one to "Say 'thank you'" or prompting "What do you say?" But it also holds true for adults. If we don't practice being thankful, it is easy to slip into a pattern of complaining, comparisons, and discontentment.
At the beginning of the year I made the choice to begin publishing my Spirit of Gratitude posts only once a month instead of weekly. It wasn't a good choice. As I spread out those thankful posts, I began to write less and less often in my gratitude journal (something I had been doing daily) I started scrambling to try remembering several things I was thankful for each month to get the post written. Last month, I even ended up skipping the post all together.
It occurred to me over the weekend that this is NOT living a spirit of gratitude. I'm getting myself back on track. I invite all of you to join me in cultivating an attitude of gratitude in your own lives.
Not sure where to start? I've got you covered!
Here are a few practical steps to cultivate gratitude in you daily life:
- Say "Thank you"
- When someone does something nice, or helpful, be quick to say "Thank you". Everyone like to feel appreciated.
- Start Your Day With Gratitude
- Take a few moments each morning to give thanks for good in your life. A positive start sets you up for a positive day. When gratitude becomes a part of your morning routine, you will find yourself more aware of the good things in your life instead of focusing on the negatives.
- Stop Complaining
- Try to stop complaining and criticizing for an entire week. Complaining feels good while you're doing it, while you're soaking up the sympathetic attention you receive from doing it. But in the end it just fuels negativity - not just for you, but also for those you complain to or criticize!
- Keep a Gratitude Journal
- Every day write down 5 things you are thankful for. They might be general or specific. They may be big things or small little things. It doesn't matter what it is - just write down something! This weekend I was talking to a friend who told me that every day her husband mails her a post card at work with a list of 5 things he is thankful for. And #1 is always "You". - I KNOW!! How sweet is that!?!?
- Remember What You're Thankful For
- We all have them - those days when you just don't feel especially grateful for anything. Maybe everything feels like it's going wrong and you're struggling to find the good. On those days, read through your previous entries into your gratitude journal to remind yourself of all the good things in your life! This helps you to move past the negativity and shift your focus on gratefulness.
These are some guidelines I try to use for living a life filled with thankfulness. Do you have any special tips for helping keep your mind and spirit focused on gratitude?
PS: The Spirit of Gratitude posts will be returning as a weekly feature beginning this Thursday!
PSS: THANK YOU to Jenny for letting me share the story of the daily postcards from her hubby!