Create an Attitude of Gratitude
With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s a great opportunity to look back at the last year and realise how much we can be grateful for. We can get so caught up in the problems and stresses of life that we don’t take the time to notice the good things that happen to us or the people that add happiness to our lives. As an added bonus, practicing gratitude can
actually rewire your brain!
A daily gratitude practice has been scientifically proven to help you:
- see past your anxiety
- open the door to new relationships
- improve physical health
- increase happiness and empathy
- reduce depression and aggression
- increase self esteem
- become more optimistic
- alleviate stress and
- help you sleep better!
Researchers in a 2003 study randomly assigned the task of a short weekly gratitude list to one group of study participants. Other groups were asked to list any hassles or neutral events they’d had during the week. Ten weeks later, the gratitude group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others.
I have a gratitude journal that I try to write at least 3 things I’m grateful for each night. I’m not great at being consistent but on the nights that I remember, I really do feel like I go to sleep with a smile on my face and sleep better. Perhaps you could ask for a journal or notebook as a Christmas present from your loved ones, or personally choose one with a cover that really resonates with you and gift yourself a Christmas present! I chose a journal with Klimt’s The Kiss artwork on the front. When I look at the beauty of the picture, it creates a feeling of appreciation and love, so it’s a great way to get my mind in the gratitude zone.
What am I grateful for?
You could start your new year by reflecting on the last year and what you can be grateful for.
Here are some questions to help get you in the gratitude zone:
- Who or what has inspired me and how?
- When was I challenged and what was one positive outcome from it?
- Who or what made me laugh a lot?
- What did I most enjoy about my work?
- What I have added to my life that makes me smile when I think about it?
- What’s one thing that I worked hard to achieve?
- What book/movie/song did I fall in love with and why?
- What new and familiar relationships am I grateful to have in my life and why?
- What is the kindest thing that someone did for me?
- What is the kindest thing I did for someone else?
- What new skills or qualities did I develop and how did they help me?
- Where was my favourite place to travel and why?
- Where did I love to spend time regularly and why?
- Who did I love to spend time regularly with?
- What food did I love to eat or enjoy for the first time?
- What gifts (physical or nonphysical like time, understanding or support) did I receive?
- What have I seen/read/heard that reminds me that there is good in people?
- What have I done to improve my mental/physical/emotional/spiritual health?
- What is something that I expected to turn out badly but didn’t?
- Who has shown me appreciation and why?
- Who do I appreciate most in my life and why?
- What is something that always improves my mood positively?
- How did I feel when something bad happened to me and how do I feel now in comparison?
You could use all of these or just some of them for your full year reflection and then going forward, try committing to writing at least 3 things you’re grateful for each day. It could be as simple as: What made me smile today? How was I challenged today and what did I learn from it? Who did I connect with? You can write about everyday things or life
changing moments because every day is made up of small and big things to be grateful for.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts
are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
Other ways to practice gratitude
Gratitude affirmations can be expressed at any time. You can download apps that send you customised gratitude affirmations at set times during the day or you can decide to say them at a specific time that works for you. I scoured the internet and found some morning and evening affirmations that resonated for me. I printed and laminated them, and they live
my bathroom, so that I start and end my day in a positive frame of mind. There’s so many predesigned gratitude lists out there that you can print and put up around the house, car or workplace so you can tap into gratitude regularly. Or just create your own personalised list of
things you’re grateful for using Notepad or Word. The list doesn’t have to look beautiful (though it helps), it just has to be easily visible so that you can enter a grateful state whenever you read it.
Gratitude for the caffeine in your morning coffee is a no brainer but why not delve deeper and be grateful for the warmth of the coffee mug, the smell of the coffee, the time to quietly observe your morning while drinking your coffee, another day on this earth to enjoy coffee….you get the idea! Or just dedicate your coffee drinking time to thinking of at least 3
things you can be grateful for in your life in general.
A gratitude collage can be a wonderful visual cue for us at home or work. You could put photos of your loved ones, a place that you loved visiting, your favourite place in your home, the food you love to eat, activities you love to do. Try to include yourself in the photos so that
it really connects you to the feeling of gratitude for having these people or experiences in your life. You can also create an online gratitude collage to use as your computer desktop background using Canva, PowerPoint, or Fotor. Every time you turn on your computer, you’ll be reminded of everything that you can be grateful for.
Gratitude rituals involve your friends and family to really get the gratitude amped up and flowing. A great Gratitude Activity for the Christmas table is to give everyone a card and pen and have them write the name of the person that’s sitting to their left at the top. They then
write something about that person on the card that they’re grateful or thankful for, passing on the card on until everyone has written on it and it makes it way back to the person you’re sitting next to. Everyone takes turns reading their own cards of appreciation aloud. Or even easier is just designating an Appreciation Chair. Each person takes a turn sitting on it and the rest of the group tells the person why they appreciate them and expresses their gratitude for any kindness, help or support that was shown during the year.
Carry a gratitude stone/rock/pebble/crystal in your pocket or purse and give thanks for something every time you touch it. It will instill a gratitude attitude so often, that it will positively influence the feeling of your day. You can buy stones that have ‘gratitude’ written or engraved on them or if you’re feeling arty, you could always hand paint your own gratitude stone (great project for the kids too!)
The ABCs of gratitude will really open a child’s eyes to what they can be thankful for. Whenever you’re stuck in traffic with the kids or waiting with them in line or at the doctors, start going through each letter of the alphabet and find something beginning with that letter that you’re thankful for. Take turns with the kids so that they can hear what you’re grateful for in your life too!
A gratitude box is the last suggestion I’ll give you today and if these don’t connect with you, there are so many other fantastic ideas out there in internet-land. A gratitude box is a great project to start at the beginning of the year – get a large box and designate it as the gratitude box. Maybe stick the words ‘Be Grateful’ on the front and place it on a side table in
your home, next to a notepad and pen. Every time you or your loved ones have a grateful thought or have an experience to be grateful for, write it down on a piece of paper, fold it and put it in the box. On the following New Year’s Eve, open the box and read how many things you all can be grateful for during the last year!
Everything gets easier when we change our focus from what’s wrong in our lives to what we can be grateful for. Our attitude lens is cleaned, and we can see the sun shining brightly again.
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