Hope you are all doing well!
The Thanksgiving Holiday is coming up very soon here in the United States. In keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, I wanted to write a little about gratitude.
Gratitude means different things to different people. Some people may be grateful to God while others may thank the Universe still others may be grateful to the people in their lives. Some people may express their gratitude by counting their blessings while others may take a more active approach. Some people may express their gratitude simply by savoring the special moments in their lives and not taking anything for granted.
For me personally, expressing gratitude helps put things into perspective. Whenever I am going through an especially difficult time I try to think about everything and everyone that I do have and everything that is going right in my life. As cliché as it sounds I also try to think of those that are less fortunate. Thinking about these things really helps me put my life into perspective and often I realize that my problem is not that big of a deal or it could be a lot worse.
There are countless ways of expressing gratitude. Here are a few suggestions:
If you enjoy journaling/writing feel free to dedicate a few minutes to think of (and write down) three to five things that you are thankful for. These things can be very simple things and they don’t have to be grand or extraordinary.
If you would like, you can dedicate a small journal specifically for gratitude. If you feel that this strategy might be helpful for you try to do this on a consistent basis but don’t do it so often that it becomes a chore. Studies have shown that doing this once a week is especially helpful however, feel free to do it more or less often.
Alternatively, instead of writing feel free to sit down and simply think about everything that you are grateful for. Try to set a fixed time to sit and think about everything that you’re grateful for. Or, you could think of one unhappy or ungrateful thought and replace it with a grateful thought.
As another option, choose a friend or family member as your gratitude partner. Share with each other what you’re grateful for and if one of you forgets to express gratitude the other can remind them.
Are you grateful to someone or a group of people in your life? Then, express your gratitude directly to them. This can be done through a wide variety of means. However, studies have shown that this can be particularly effective when done through phone, letter, or face to face. I personally think that in this day and age of quick emails and text messages there is something extra special and sincere about taking the time to write and send a letter of gratitude to someone.
Interestingly, studies have shown that if you write a letter but for any reason you choose not to send the letter, you will still reap the well-being benefits of gratitude.
On a final note, feel free to choose only one of the above strategies. Don’t ever force yourself to do any of these (or other) gratitude exercises. Because expressing gratitude in a fixed and consistent manner may not suit everyone. However, I truly feel that even occasionally expressing gratitude can be helpful in putting things into perspective.
Also, If you choose a strategy and after a while it feels like a chore feel free to spice it up and try another strategy instead of this one.