It’s not always easy to feel gratitude, but when we’re thankful, we’re a lot happier. Here are three tips to help us feel grateful every day.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I’ve got gratitude on my mind. I’m a huge believer in the power of mindset, and I think it all starts with gratitude. When we’re grateful, we’re more likely to be happy. And when we’re happy, we’re more likely to do good.
But that’s all easier said than done. It’s a lot easier to find the negative, focus on what we lack, and get lost in the everyday struggles of life.
I’m trying really hard to make gratitude my go to. I’m nowhere near close, but I’m not letting that stop me from trying. Here are three things that help me stay thankful.
1. Keep a gratitude journal.
As part of my journaling with a purpose routine, I write down at least three things I’m grateful for each morning. I think about the day before and hone in on what made that day extra special. What conveniences made it easier? What did my kids or friends or spouse do that filled me with joy and love? What happened in the world that gave me hope?
Sometimes I write down silly things like Dr. Pepper, cheesy chick flicks, or polka dotted shoes. Other times I write down things we often take for granted like clean water, cars, or a refrigerator. And other times I write down bigger things like my family, my religion, or acts of kindness.
I find that having a dedicated time to think about all the positive things in my day helps me recognize how blessed I really am.
2. Find the Positive.
This one is much tougher than the first, and one that I struggle with. But when something goes wrong in my day or my life, I try to find the positive spin on it or look for the blessing.
Sometimes this means finding the lesson I learned. Like when we’re late to something, at least I learned that I need to add an extra 5 minutes to the time it takes us to get out the door. Or when I drop the ball and forget something I was supposed to do for someone, it’s awkward and embarrassing, but I now know I need to tweak my to-do list system so I don’t forget other important tasks. Or maybe start saying no more in that season of life.
Sometimes finding the positive means turning around our thinking. The mess of toys strewn all over the house means I have children. Dirty dishes mean we have food to eat. Bills to pay means we have a house with water and electricity.
And finally, sometimes this means looking for the blessing in disguise. Often we never fully see these. Or we realize them after the fact. A few weeks ago over fall break, I was planning on taking my kids to the aquarium and the zoo on back-to-back days. We were so excited! Both places were a 20-30 minute drive away, mostly on the freeway. Just minutes before I began loading us up for the first outing, I out-of-nowhere got super dizzy and came down with a fever. I laid down for awhile and quickly realized it wasn’t the best idea to go walk around the aquarium that day. Nor the zoo the next.
A couple days later when I was feeling better, I took my car in for an oil change and found out my brakes were metal-on-metal and needed to be replaced, along with three of my four tires that were close to popping. I don’t think me getting sick that morning was a coincidence. And now, instead of being upset we had to miss out on two fun outings over break, I feel grateful that we didn’t get in that car on the freeway.
Finding the positive isn’t easy, especially in the moment, but it always helps me see life with clearer eyes.
3. Focus on Your Strengths.
This one is perhaps the hardest for me. I tend to focus on my weaknesses or the things I’m NOT doing, rather than the things I am–looking at the items on my to-do list that weren’t checked off, not the ones that were. Or ignoring the twenty billion fires I put out that weren’t even on the list, but still had to be dealt with. Things like dirty diapers, making snacks, carpool, putting a bandaid on an owie, giving a pep talk to a nervous child, rocking a baby, dropping something off to a neighbor who needed to borrow it, the list goes on.
We do so much as moms, and yet we tend to focus on all the things we feel like we aren’t doing. We see that we’re feeding our kids Happy Meals yet again, when we feel like we should be feeding them all organic, made-from-scratch meals. But we DID feed them. We see that we didn’t make it to the gym for our one hour lifting session, when we DID run around the backyard with our kids for twenty minutes. We see that we didn’t get the laundry done, but we DID do the dishes.
We spend so much time focusing on the un-done, the still-to-dos, the maybe-one-days that we forget to focus on the NOW. And when our focus is on those, we lose sight of the good. We get stuck in a negative mindset. It’s hard to feel thankful when we aren’t able to see how amazing we are.
To combat this way of thinking, at the end of the day, instead of looking at the unfinished to-do list, grab a journal and write down a list of all the things you did–even the tiny ones that don’t seem like a big deal. Do this for a week or two and see just how much you really do in a day. Then anytime you start to feel yourself focusing on the undones, do this exercise again.
Attitude of Gratitude
Life is much more joyful when we have grateful hearts. With a gratitude journal, finding the good within the negative aspects of our lives, and putting our focus on our strengths, we can increase our thankfulness.
What do you to have an attitude of gratitude?