“The world owes you nothing, it was here first.” – Mark Twain
Thanksgiving is the time of year we make an active effort to express what we are thankful for. During this time, have you ever noticed how happy and how full your heart feels (not just in regards to excessive amounts of turkey)? Surrounding ourselves with family and friends while make memories and reminiscing in old ones around a lavish dinner just has a way of making us smile.
Personally, I am very guilty of dwelling on what I don’t have and pushing aside appreciation for what I do. I’m human, sometimes I just really want some nice clothes, or a grand vacation, or just a day to myself!
When I was pregnant with my second child, I was really struggling emotionally so I began practicing yoga, meditation, and really focusing on mindfulness. I feel that gratitude definitely falls under the mindfulness category. This means two things: that it is good for your soul…and that you have to make a conscious decision to do it (which can be the hard part).
But I want to suggest a different approach to a “list”. Instead of listing one word at a time, I find reliving memories and experiences tends to be a great way to be gracious towards the life you have. For example, have you ever came upon a car crash right after it happened and think, “that could have been me, thank God I had to run back into the house to get my phone”. That extra 30 seconds was given to you, and potentially saved your life.
These are the kinds of things that are good to think about when we feel we have “nothing” to be thankful for. There is always something, we just need some help getting into that mindset sometimes. Hey, we are all human!
Find an Inspiring Quote
Who speaks to you AND makes you listen? Is it bible verses, a favorite author, a philosopher, or something your mom always said to you growing up? Whatever the case, a quote is a simple thing you can look at everyday, memorize, and use as a guideline in your life. You can find thousands of gratitude quotes out there, here are some good life quotes.
We have a tendency to live inside of ourselves (introspectively), especially with the ability to not even leave the house to do your grocery shopping. It’s easy to get lost within yourself. So try a different point of view. Put yourself in perspective with the world around you. You are a human, in a town, in a state, in a county, on a continent, on the Earth, in our solar system, in the milky way, floating in a vast infinity 99% unexplored. Feel small? That’s a good thing. Your life is part of a bigger, grander plan, and you can (and should) reveal in that.
Use Thoughtful Questions Instead of One Word Answer Questions
It is easy to answer “What are you thankful for”, or “who are you thankful for”. And those are absolutely fine! But I encourage you to think deeper, use memories, descriptions, and reminisce in feelings to further your experience while making your list. For example, we are all thankful for our mothers, but we are truly thankful for the long nights she spent with us when we were sick, or the small notes she left in our lunchboxes that used to be so embarrassing. Don’t just write a list, experience it.
Turn off ALL Media While Completing Your List
Media (social, news, or otherwise) can have an unseen impact on our lives. Personally, I can’t concentrate on reading or writing while the TV is on because it affects the way I take in the material. Not to mention its just distracting. Going without Facebook for a day will really make you see how much time you actually spend on Facebook!! And you’ll get bored…fast…but that’s OK, it will allow you to think more deeply about gratitude and ultimately have a positive effect on your day.
Post Your List
Not talking about Facebook here. Post it somewhere physical that you see everyday. Some good places are: a mirror, a doorway, the refrigerator, the microwave, etc.
It takes practice to have gratitude, just as its takes practice to be mindful.
Be patient, don’t get overwhelmed, enjoy the experience, and write what you feel!
FREE Gratitude List Printout
Just click to print!
If making a list isn’t for you, there are other ways to express your gratitude regularly: