Being thankful can be hard because life can be hard. At this time of year we’re supposed to break bread, be nice and give thanks for what we have. For some of us this will come naturally but for others it can be a challenge or even seem impossible. Times of illness, loss, or loneliness can’t be removed from our realities but we can learn to find space within pain to take solace in gratitude. Looking on the bright side wherever possible has been scientifically proven to yield numerous health benefits. The most significant of these is resilience. The ability to bounce back is strengthened when we take the opportunity to cultivate a sense of appreciation for even the smallest positive aspects of life. Read on for a few tips on how you can begin to master the art of thankfulness.
- Decide to say THANK YOU as often as possible. Go out of your way to find the people who deserve your thanks. Send an old fashioned note in the mail, pick up the phone and call someone who deserves a thank you, or do it in person. Don’t forget to thank yourself. Yes, you deserve thanks too.
- Instead of simply listing what you’re grateful for, try to deepen the experience. Doing this helps to install what you’re grateful for into your long term memory. Our brains naturally hold on to negative experiences but positive ones tend to slip out of our awareness. The good news is that we change this. For example- suppose you see a beautiful sunrise. Adding it to your gratitude list is a start but what if you took a picture of it and shared it with someone you care about? Imagine if you described the sunset to a co-worker and went into detail about the colors? Taking it a step further, count your blessings aloud -“Waking up to a beautiful sunrise really set the tone for my day.”
- Start small. Look for the smallest things possible to be thankful for. Picking the right jacket for the weather, remembering to charge your phone, or having plenty of gas in a traffic jam can be cause for celebration.
- Start and end your day with gratitude. In the morning write down 3 things you’re grateful for and in the evening take note of 3 good things that happened during the day.
- If all else fails, turn to wonder. On the days when gratitude practice just isn’t happening, call upon curiosity. Ask questions that take you away from frustration or anxiety and toward a sense of awe about the world around you. Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving and a heart filled with gratitude!