Because this month ends with Thanksgiving, a holiday focused on gratitude, this is the perfect time to turn your thoughts toward all you have to be thankful for. Why not wait until the actual holiday, and merely celebrate with turkey like many people do? Because when we spend more time focused on feelings of gratitude, and in fact build gratitude into our lives to a greater degree, we are more aware of the many blessings in our lives, feel a greater sense of optimism, and gain many other benefits as well. Also, more people will be in this frame of mind, so they will be more likely to support you and perhaps join you in shift your thoughts to the positive. (And positive peer pressure can be a very effective tool for reaching healthy goals!)
So how can you make gratitude a more significant part of your life, starting now? Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep A Gratitude Journal: Maintain a journal where you record three items at the end of each day that you really appreciated that day. Not only can this feel good and bring you to a more positive frame of mind while you are counting your three items, but you will likely find yourself noticing the positives in your life more throughout the day, as you mentally decide what you might want to list in your journal that night. This can bring a greater gratitude mindset for the entire day.
- Tell People: As you go through your day and find that people are doing things you appreciate, be sure to tell them! Even if it's not something that someone is doing to purposely affect you, letting them know you appreciate them can make them feel better, and that can make you feel happier as well. So if your barista remembers your regular order, if your friend shares a joke that makes you smile, if your kids do something wonderful (and most kids usually do at least something wonderful most days), be sure to share with them what you appreciate, and how it makes you feel.
- Tweet About It: Or make it your Facebook status. You can share your gratitude with like-minded others by tweeting with the #gratitude hashtag (I'm @elizabethscott if you want to follow me on Twitter), or you can post it on my Facebook page. Putting it out there via social media brings three benefits: first, announcing what you are grateful for brings the same benefits of recording in your journal (see above). Second, if you establish a pattern of sharing your bits of gratitude (say, for the month, or until Thanksgiving), your friends will come to expect these posts, and you may be more likely to stick with the habit, especially if it's something you are doing for a few weeks to get yourself into the habit. (You can transfer your practice to a private journal at any time.) Third, and very importantly, sharing with your friends what you are grateful for helps them adopt a mindset of gratitude as well! This can be good for them, and having a group of more positive friends can be good for you, too. It's a win all around!