Gratitude: A Habit You'll Love to Practice
I was recently having coffee with a friend and she said something that stopped me dead in my tracks - "It's not just the last month of the year, but the last month of this decade." I took a moment to let that one sink in. After I let that hit me hard, I immediately decided that I was going to really dedicate this month - the last month of the decade - to practicing gratitude. I want to come back to centre, to focus on all that is good, and to really take time and energy to be appreciative and thankful. And with the holidays around the corner, what better time than now to focus on the most important things in life? Gratitude helps us appreciate the life we lead, improve our health, build strong relationships, and handle adversity. In fact, research shows having an attitude of gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness.
I'm going to share with you some of the ways that I am practicing gratitude this holiday season (and carrying through into the new year!)
“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.” -Unknown
1. Get grateful
I've committed to starting off my day by writing down 10 things that I am grateful for. These can be as intricate or as simple as you'd like. For example, today's list could look something like this:
I woke up before my alarm today and felt refreshed after a good night's sleep.
I am grateful for hot coffee in the morning.
I am grateful for my husband, who cleaned up the kitchen last night before coming to bed. I love coming downstairs to a clean kitchen in the morning and I was too tired to finish it last night.
I am grateful for the Christmas tree we got over the weekend, which is filling my house with an amazing smell.
I'm feeling motivated to work out today and I am grateful for my strong, healthy body.
I am grateful for my kids' sweet voices that fill my kitchen in the mornings.
I am grateful that I get to do what I love for work and connect with amazing, badass people.
I am grateful for the community of strong women I have surrounding me.
I am grateful for the pile of laundry I have to fold because it means my family has an abundance of winter clothes to keep us warm.
I am grateful for the new diffuser blend I have going. It energizes me and makes me feel focused and ready to take on the day.
This can be done at any time during your day! It doesn't have to be in the morning. Play around with it and see what works best for you. There are no rules here! What's important is that we recognize that we aren't only grateful for the big things in life, but that we're appreciating every little good thing in our life. There is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Don't leave anything out when practicing gratitude.
2. Pay it forward
This doesn't necessarily mean giving financially. Just try doing something nice for someone else - it will brighten your mood to bring someone else a bit of joy. It could be as simple as giving someone a compliment, lending a listening ear for a few minutes, or giving a stranger a smile. Giving your kids extra patience today or holding the door open for someone. Bring all your old clothes and donate them. Donate your time by working in the soup kitchen or helping a friend or family member. If your budget allows, donate to a local charity or tip your barista.
Don’t underestimate how much simple kindness can do - both for someone else and for your own gratitude practice. Every little bit counts, and you CAN make a difference!
3. Focus on what you have, not what you want
During the holidays we can get so focused on what we need to buy or what we want to receive. Flip that thought and make a list or think about all of things that you already have. How does it make you feel to have these things in your life? Really sit with that feeling of gratitude and happiness.
4. Inspire gratitude with essential oils
It can be hard to get into the right mindset to feel grateful and practice gratitude. When this happens, I like to turn to essential oils. Frankincense is most known for bringing about feelings of positivity and peace. That truly is a gift and it makes it easier to be grateful. Frankincense has long been treasured for its healing and soothing powers. It can calm the mind and slow the breath, making it ideal for meditation. It can even boost creativity and induce feelings of joy, making it even easier to enjoy the benefits of gratitude!
Incorporating gratitude into your life is easy and fun and the benefits are endless. Your best awaits you.
“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”
- Oprah Winfrey