Every holiday season, we’re told to reflect more on the things we’re thankful for. But it doesn’t just have to be in the holidays. Developing a gratitude mindset can be enjoyed all year round. “We need to make expressing gratitude a daily practice. It would make us and our interactions, not just our holidays, much more positive,” says Pinellas psychologist Valeria Moore. Not only does it give way to positive thinking and happiness, but it also promotes cooperation and kindness within a community. Here’s how you can start to cultivate this mindset.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Let’s start it off easy. Grab a simple notebook or journal you can write on. Find a comfortable spot to sit on and think about the things you are grateful for. It may be difficult for some people to do this as they may not be comfortable confronting their own emotions, but remember that this is private time. You don’t have to let anyone read your gratitude journal if you don’t want to.
Some people may also find it difficult to turn this into a habit. After all, it may seem like another chore you have to do every day. It doesn’t have to be that way. Work through it gradually. You don’t have to write every day, just make sure to make an entry at least once a week. You can do this at the end of the week when you’re looking back at everything that had happened for the past days.
To make things even easier, you can write about one specific something you’re grateful for. Then, you can add details. Why are you thankful for this? Who was involved that you should give thanks? How can you help pass this on to others? You’ll soon find that the writing will just flow naturally.
Write Someone a Letter
It’s time to go old-school. Sit down at your desk and bring out the lovely stationery. Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D. wrote, ” In all of the studies, people felt significantly happier than normal after they had taken a few minutes to write a gratitude letter.” Think back to someone who has made a positive impact on your life. It could be a parent, a significant other, or even a grade-school teacher. Reflect on how they have influenced your life and write that down in a letter. Be specific and add in as much detail as you can. Tell them about the good that you’ve done because of it. It’ll make their day, and it passes on good vibes around to everyone.
Take a Break from Life
Sometimes it’s hard to take a step back when you’re all caught up in life. In the digital age, everything happens so quickly. So put the phone down, step away from the computer and enjoy some downtime.
Putting yourself in a situation where you’re not so distracted by everything will allow you to think clearly. It’ll give you time to focus on things that have happened, making you remember past events you may be thankful for. Doing this also allows you to live in the moment, enjoying the now and being grateful for it. On the other hand, Alena Gerst, LCSW says, “Consciously acknowledging gratitude first thing in the morning sets the tone for me to be aware of everything for which I’m grateful throughout the day.”
Give Yourself Credit
Like RuPaul likes to say, “If you don’t love yourself, then how you gonna love someone else?” It’s the same for being grateful. You have to give yourself credit for the things you do and for getting by. Acknowledge your achievements, and don’t compare yourself to others. Recognize that you are following your own pace. Learn to look at even the little things and self-appreciate.