Around this time of year, I start hearing more and more people talking about gratitude. But once the holiday season is over, it leaves me wondering: Now what? How can I stay thankful through the year instead of just one day (or weekend)?
Here are some ideas that work and are easy to implement:
1. Tell someone.
Share with one person a day when you are grateful for them — give a genuine thanks. Extra points for directing your gratitude toward a relationship in which you're struggling. This can also help redirect your brain when you're frustrated, as it steers the focus toward the positive efforts the frustrating culprit is likely trying to make.
2. Keep a gratitude jar.
Start on January 1, your birthday, or any day you want, really. Every time you feel the urge, make a small note of what you're thankful for, place it in the jar and read it when the year's through (or earlier if needed!). This gives back twice: once when you write it, and once when you read it.
3. Say it out loud.
For most people reading this, the list of reasons to be grateful is lengthy. Whether it's your health, family, friends, home or simply being grateful for today and tomorrow, saying it out loud can cement that feeling of thanks. I wasn't raised in a religious household, but I imagine it to be similar to praying and can be practiced at night before bed, or in the morning to start the day if desired.
Travel often puts our good fortune into a bigger context, and it doesn't have to be a far-away place. If you're strapped for time, money, or ability to travel, try people watching in a coffee shop or park in another neighborhood you'll likely get some fresh perspective.
5. Help someone.
Volunteer, or call that great aunt who has trouble getting around, or that friend without a ride. Even if your help isn't needed, the gesture will be appreciated!
Don't be afraid to call attention to those things that make you feel blessed — in fact, why not celebrate them? Whether it's a toast at dinner or just a moment with loved ones to reflect, sometimes we shouldn't hold back our sense of gratitude and should share it instead.
7. Notice the small things.
Sometimes life can seem brutal; big pieces of the mosaic seem to be crumbling, and it tests our ability to stay thankful. In these times, make an active effort to count the small wonders around you. Perhaps it's the free toothbrush from your dentist, the smell of flowers in your grandma's hospital room, or simply the sun shining — sometimes the little things are the last fragments of glue that hold us together.
8. Get off the screen.
It's doubtful that a screen will help you in your quest for greater gratitude (aside from this post of course!). So make sure you set aside time to live screen free, ideally getting out into nature, to appreciate the wonder of life!
9. Keep a journal (obvious, I know).
But consider it a gratitude journal … and be sure to add to it once in a while, too!