In this country, most people focus their attention on gratitude in the month of November when we celebrate Thanksgiving. But, what if you could channel those positive feelings year-round by adopting an attitude of gratitude and finding something to be grateful for each and every day? Feeling and expressing gratitude, even in life’s tiniest pleasures, has been scientifically proven to boost your physical and mental health.
This may seem easier said than done. As we age and find ourselves feeling lonely, facing health challenges, and feeling the loss of loved ones, we need to make a concerted effort at gratefulness. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude—and that doing so raises our own happiness.
Here are some suggestions to get you started. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I welcome hearing from you on how you incorporate gratefulness into your everyday lives.
- Keep a daily gratitude journal. Make a point of writing in this journal each evening to reflect on the simple joys (or great big joys!) that you experienced that day.
- Turn an unused cookie jar into a Gratitude Jar. Write a one-line sentence on a small piece of paper and put this into the jar. At Thanksgiving or on New Year’s Day, open the jar….read all the notes and see all the beauty the prior year brought you. I have a colleague who does this and encourages the entire family to drop notes into the jar throughout the year.
- Thank others with a note, email or phone call. Not only will you lift your own mood, but you’ll be enhancing the mood of the person receiving your thanks.
- Use the power of prayer to ground you in the present moment.
- Cultivate opportunities for joy and happiness in your life by surrounding yourself with positive, upbeat friends who bring laughter into your life. Also, look back at your life and reflect on those people in your past who brought a smile to your face. Be thankful that they touched your life in some way.
It takes as little as 21 days for a newly formed habit to stick. Are you willing to try an attitude of gratitude for 21 days? What have you got to lose? The way I see it, you have everything to gain!