Each November, many of us gather around a table, passing delicious food to our loved ones and expressing what we are thankful for in our lives. Here at Family Guiding, we believe that gratitude is not something to be expressed just once a year, but every day, in the smallest of moments. Being grateful is more than just positive thinking; it is a true understanding of what is important in your life. Living in gratitude helps to change your perspective and with this comes more abundance and fulfillment.
This month’s compass gives you five ways to practice gratitude in your daily life.
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Whether you can carry it around with you or keep it by your bedside, use a journal or a notebook to capture five things that you are grateful for each day. What you are grateful for will vary every day. It might be the funny thing your daughter said that made you laugh, the traffic-free commute in the morning or the 10 quiet minutes you spent alone. Regardless of what you write down, keeping a daily log of what you are thankful for is a nice reminder of what is important.
2. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
You've heard the sayings “Turn that frown upside down,” or “its a blessing in disguise.” Basically, these phrases ask you look at a negative situation in a more positive light. Sure, this sort of optimism can be annoying when you are in the middle of a stressful or heartbreaking experience; however, the difference between people who get depressed over their life circumstances and those who are more resilient, is this ability to change their perspective. To have a genuine attitude of gratitude, ask yourself: “What can I learn from this experience?” Finding something to be grateful for in every situation can help you keep your sanity in the most difficult of times.
3. Say “Thank you” every time someone pays you a compliment.
It is easy, almost too easy for many of us, to dismiss a compliment from someone by coming up with a reason why the compliment is not true. If your boss acknowledges how hard you have worked on a project and you say “oh it was nothing” – you have missed the point! If a stranger says you are beautiful and you think he must be a sleezeball – you have missed the point! When someone pays you a compliment, they have made an effort to notice something positive about you and most importantly, cared enough to let you know about it. Savor it! Say “thank you” out loud and “I know its true” in your head. Or better yet, write it down in your gratitude journal, so that you can see how much others notice how wonderful you are.
4. Open yourself to the beauty around you.
Take a moment with nature. Notice the world around you. There are so many amazing phenomena that surround us – the colors of the sunrise, the way a bird can fly and the changing of the leaves in Fall, to name a few. There is no better example of synergy and abundance than mother nature. If the thought of being out in nature gives you hives, then there are other ways to notice the beauty around you – listen to the sound of children playing or marvel at the ability of humans to build a skyscraper. Either way, by stopping to notice the beauty in the world, you open your heart and mind to energy and gifts of the universe.
5. Pay it forward.
There is an international movement, spawned by the book, Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A young boy takes a social studies assignment (e.g. come up with an idea that will improve mankind) and turns it into a movement. He does three good deeds and then asks these people to pay the good deed “forward” to three more people rather than back to him, in the hopes of creating positive change in the world. Just like this story, living in gratitude involves sharing your gifts with others. If someone does something nice for you, do something nice for someone else. Giving with a free heart allows you to receive more gifts from the universe. (For more information about the Pay It Forward movement check out their website: http://www.payitforwardfoundation.org)
Happy thanksgiving! We hope that our tips for grateful living inspired you to make gratitude an every day practice, rather than reserving it for a special occasion. If our article helped you, please consider paying it forward to the Create A Path program, to help young girls break out of the cycle of abuse, poverty and imprisonment.