Let’s face it. It’s cool to be grateful. Oprah made it a worldwide phenomenon when she started keeping a gratitude journal way back when. And, there’s a reason it’s so popular. Focusing on what you have and not what you lack is one of the most simple and profound ways to learn to appreciate your life and the people in it.
For some, gratitude comes easily. For others, it takes work. Here are some ways I’ve found to revive the gratefulness perspective:
Go for a Run. I know I am preaching to the choir here. Pre-run you are down on your life, annoyed by your family and friends and generally irritated by everything. During your run something happens. Life opens up. You get perspective. You start to notice the beauty around you. You appreciate the strength of your body. Post-run your head is clear and you are often able to feel and see the gifts around you.
Stop comparing yourself to others. This is the single most important thing to do if you want to feel better about your life. This is your day, your journey, your race, your family, your relationship, your job. Make it a point to be the best person you can be, and refuse to feel less than because someone else is stronger, richer, prettier, faster, smarter or more intelligent. If you feel envy, use it to your advantage. Being jealous of someone tells us what we might want more of in our lives. Figure it out, and go get it.
Do it at the same time everyday. Make being grateful a part of your day just like brushing your teeth. I do an inventory every morning before I get out of bed of the things that are going right in my life and the people who I cherish. If I’m dealing with a particular struggle - a problem with a friendship, an injury or a misbehaving child, I try to think about what I can learn from the situation to make it make me better. I try to be grateful for the challenge.
Stop looking at Facebook. FB is a wonderful tool for reconnecting with old friends and staying in touch with family. But, it can be the perfect breeding ground for feeling less than (Suzy ran another PR! Johnnie’s marriage is so perfect! Mary’s kids are all geniuses! The Smiths travel all of the world every other month!). If it brings you down, stop going there.
Give to others. Sometimes we get so stuck in our heads about what our personal challenges are. When we reach out and take time for others, gratitude and a sense of well being creep in. Send a friend a card. Volunteer at an old folk’s home. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee.
Stop thinking it should be a certain way. When we get caught up in an ideal of how we think life needs to be, we become inflexible. We get let down. We forget to be grateful. Do your best to accept how life is unfolding for you right now. This doesn’t mean you can’t have dreams and a preference for how you would like things to go. But, do not be tied to that plan. Go with the flow, be adaptable.
Lower your expectations. We are taught to have very high expectations for ourselves. That is all fine and good, but it can ultimately breed dissatisfaction. If your expectations are low, you will rarely be disappointed. You will be grateful for any positive outcome that comes, no matter how small.
Any other tips for how to feel grateful?
What’s one thing you are grateful for on this Thanksgiving Eve? My quirky, funny, loving family, safe and sound within these four (or more) walls.