9 Ways to Focus on Gratitude This Month
With the holidays approaching, you might find yourself asking one question more often. You might be asked the question, “What are your thankful for this year?” Because Thanksgiving is almost here and the holidays are a time to show appreciation.
You may struggle with gratitude this year, despite all the other things going on in your life, including school and work. It’s okay to feel that way. It can be difficult to feel grateful when life is stressful. There are steps you can take that will help you feel more grateful.
Keep reading for nine tactics that can put you back into a more appreciative mood.
1. Start a Gratitude Journal
You’ve probably been told to write something down if you want to remember it. This applies to all the positive things in your life. It can be easy to forget or overlook the wonderful things in your life during busy days. To keep it all in perspective, consider starting a gratitude journal.
Make it a habit to write down something every day. You can even make a daily appointment on your calendar for writing. One rule applies: only think positive thoughts! Focus on positive words and you will begin to shift your attention away from negative experiences.
The journal is a double-win. You capture all the happy things, and you can re-read them on days that don’t seem so good.
2. Don’t Forget the Bad
This might sound like a completely opposite idea from the gratitude journal. You won’t dwell on past negative events. It can help you to keep your life in perspective by remembering the negative things that happened. This is especially true for those who have been through difficult times. Take a deep breath and pause when life seems overwhelming. Recall a time when it was more difficult. You can focus on the positive things you did to make it all easier. Look at your “then” and “now” side-by-side — it’s an easy way to feel grateful for where you are today.
3. Watch Your Words
When it comes to expressing yourself, words matter. A few simple language choices can set the tone for a conversation. The same applies to your attitude and mood. Choose words that reflect your gratitude if you want to feel happier.
Many people choose to talk about the blessings they have received or the gifts they have received. You can also use “fortunate” if you prefer. The idea is to focus on the good things that you have received. It takes the focus off things you’ve done and puts it on the kind things you’ve been given.
4. Give Your Time
For many people, giving back to others is a huge part of capturing gratitude in their own lives. There are two possible responses when you help others in need. First, it can make your own problems seem less daunting by seeing the hardships of others. Doing something nice for someone else can make you feel better about yourself.
During the holidays, there are dozens of ways you can volunteer your time. Consider delivering meals to elderly adults who are housebound. Volunteer your time to help in a homeless shelter. You can even volunteer as a social buddy at a nursing home orphanage for one day per week. You can save your time by making a note of the day. You definitely don’t want to be late!
5. Focus on the Small Things
To be honest, if you’re waiting for something huge to happen to feel grateful, you may be regularly disappointed. Big things, such as new jobs, bucket-list vacations, or new houses, don’t always happen every day. It’s a good idea not to focus on the big things.
Did the grocery store carry your favorite ice cream flavor in the past? Or was it just right to plant your flower garden on a weekend? These are simple things that can improve your day-today life. These are not to be overlooked. They can go a long way to elevating your gratitude.
6. Pay Attention to Intentions
When someone gives you something or does something for you, pay attention to their motivation. Focus on the reason they did it. This can be a great way to show appreciation.
It doesn’t matter if the cake looks a little odd on one side. Perhaps the pattern on the scarf is not quite right. What if they brought you a French Vanilla Latte when mocha is your favorite? You should be grateful for their willingness to do something extra for you. Their kindness may even inspire you to do the same thing for someone else.
7. Learn to Meditate
You’ve probably heard that meditation can help you handle the stress in your life. That’s true. It can also be an effective tool to increase gratitude. Make it a habit to make it a priority to set aside some time every day for it. You can choose to meditate in the morning or at night.
There are plenty of guided meditations you can use. You can choose the ones that help you think more about kindness and love. They can help you to accept, forgive, and even be grateful. If you can, think of specific instances where you have been grateful. Those thoughts can promote more positive thinking.
8. Thank Someone New Each Week
It’s easy to thank your partner for loading the dishwasher. It’s easy to express appreciation to your coworker for taking your cup of coffee from the breakroom. These simple, quick thank yous can become a routine. They may even begin to lose their impact. If this is the case, it’s time for a change.
Think about all the people you interact with every day. It could be your postal carrier or your bank teller or the officer who directs school pick up line traffic. Show your gratitude based on their actions. Showing your gratitude could be simply smiling and saying hello. You could also bake cookies to surprise someone. The choice is yours, so get creative!
9. Create a Bedtime Thankfulness Routine
After a long, stress-filled day, it can sometimes be tough to focus on the positives. However, there is a way to create a grateful attitude. It’s about constantly reminding yourself of all the good things that have happened. You can do this by setting aside time each day to remind yourself of the good things that happened. You can set a reminder on your calendar to remind you of this daily time each night.
Take time nightly before you go to bed to ponder the good things from the day. You can either write it down or say it loudly. Yes, you should lead with the important things. Don’t forget the little things. It’s great when you can stop at a stoplight on your commute. This means you can grab a cup of coffee and read the news before your morning huddle.
Life can be hectic. It’s easy to lose sight on the good things when there is so much going on. It’s important to slow down and notice the positive things that happen. When you take the time — and use these strategies — you’ll probably realize you have bunches of reasons for gratitude.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by George Dolgikh; Pexels.com; Thank you!
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.