This is part two of Gratitude Can Change Your Life where we explore six practical applications of gratitude in everyday life to obtain true change.
1. Write it down. Call it your gratitude journal, thankful journal, or whatever you wish. Just make sure that it’s solely devoted to jotting down ten things you’re thankful for every day. While ten things may at first seem like a stretch, challenge yourself! Pushing yourself to write ten things you’re grateful for does much more than just help you fill your daily quota for this challenge; it trains you to see the beauty in the things that are right in front of you that you don’t even realize you’re missing.
2. Go Public. Share three of the things you’re grateful for on social media. Yep, let your Facebook and Twitter world see why you’re thankful and trend with #givethanks. Encourage your family and friends to do the same and make it an engaging discussion.
3. Have a grateful family. Make this a fun activity for the whole family by getting them involved. Use a dry erase board as your gratitude board where everyone in your home writes down their own number of grateful items each day and keep the board in a visible location. Use the list as a conversation starter allowing your kids the opportunity to discuss why they’re grateful for the things they listed. It becomes interesting as each member of your family gets to see what the others are grateful for. Your kids mimic you; practicing this new habit with them fosters an attitude of gratitude in them that will remain with them.
4. Fend off Negative Nancy. There are ample opportunities in the course of the day for things to go awry and when they do, those automatic negative thoughts can creep in and threaten control. This is a fantastic time to revisit the lists in your gratitude journal as an aid in switching those negative thoughts to positive ones. If one of your little tykes is having a rough day and struggling with negative or counter-productive emotions, remind him of what he listed on the gratitude board and why, helping him to shift focus at least for the moment.
5. Give the gift of gratitude. Make it a habit to send thank you cards and notes every chance you get. Remember, you don’t have to wait for some grand gesture. It can be as simple as thanking your kids’ teachers or day care workers for showing up every day. If you see a regular cleaning crew at your place of work, hand them a card as thanks for keeping your space clean. Thank the security guard at the door for keeping watch even! Leave a thank you note for your spouse for picking up his dirty laundry or for doing the dishes! Can you imagine what that sort of validation and encouragement can do?
Everyone wants to feel appreciated – even for the little things they do – and when they are, they’re more likely to feel empowered about what they are doing, and are more likely to want to do it even better! Think about how it feels when someone takes the time to thank you for something that you do, especially if you feel that it goes unnoticed or unappreciated, and imagine what you can do for someone’s day by handing them a handwritten note demonstrating that you notice what they do and you are grateful for it! So pass it on!
6. Say It Loud! Too often we silently acknowledge the good situations and people in our lives but are quite vocal with our dissatisfaction with the same. Seek out opportunities to be in the non-eventful routines you follow to say, “Thank you,” to the people in your life. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you speak with your best friend every day. You enjoy your talks; it’s something the two of you have been doing for years, and today is no different. You know you love this time with her, so acknowledge the pleasure you get from speaking with her, and take the time to actually say that to her! Thank her for what her friendship means to you despite the fact that your chat today isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Practice this with your family and friends and see what gratitude does for them! There’s a common saying that a merry heart is like a medicine, and gratitude certainly keeps your heart merry! Get everyone involved and make it a habit to give thanks!
Vocalizing, visualizing, and focusing on all the positive things in your life invites more of the same. Now, that’s a cycle I don’t mind getting caught up in, how about you?