Thanksgiving may be over, but you can still create a practice of gratitude. Read how to be grateful, even when you don’t feel that great.
2017 has been an interesting year. First of all, I was still recovering from the asthmatic effects of pneumonia, recovering from grief over my dad passing, and adjusting to the jarring reality of full time entrepreneurship.
I would love to say that I am grateful for every day. Yet, I didn’t FEEL so great every day, which makes it harder to see the silver lining.
Yes, even an optimist like me can acknowledge there are days when I struggled to see the blessings in my full life.
This past year has also been a year of discovering new habits that focus more on mental practices rather than physical practices. Yes, I still exercise and prepare healthy meals. And, I now see the value of a regular gratitude practice.
Before we get into what a gratitude practice is, what is gratitude?
According to Harvard Medical School, gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. It has long been cited as THE WAY to increase happiness in positive psychology research.
Forbes even released an article that shares the 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, which include sleeping better, winning more friends, decreasing stress, being more physically healthy, enhance empathy and increase self-esteem.
All of this is great- and you probably already recognize the importance of feeling gratitude. However, not all of us can tap into boundless reserves of it, especially if we are struggling with physical or mental challenges.
You may wonder why a health coach is even talking about gratitude. After all, doesn’t weight loss and improving how you eat and move have to do with physical habits, not mental ones?
Here is my own personal experience with gratitude. (Yes, I only recommend habits that have improved my own life and/or have significant research to back it up).
Back in May, I made a regular habit of writing down 10 things I am grateful for EVERY DAY.
- Partly because I was told by my coach that this is important for a healthy mindset.
- Partly because I was feeling frustrated with the course I was on in my life.
- Partly because it’s an easy habit to get into.
- Partly because I had never tried it before.
Since that time, I have experienced minor miracles in life, including more green lights on the road, unsolicited hugs and “love yous” from my daughters, clients who want to work with me, and opportunities that I never would have seen previously.
Here is one of the coolest parts about starting a gratitude practice– THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO DO IT!
All I do is write down the 10 things every day I am grateful for. Generally, I write these things down either first thing in the morning, or last thing before bed at night. I have a dedicated purse-size journal I keep it in, because I also write constructive questions or affirmations to boost my overall mood.
As you can imagine, this is barely scratching the surface of a consistent gratitude practice.
What can your gratitude practice look like?
- You can simply say “thank you” while praying or reading the Bible.
- You can meditate quietly and simply imagine the feelings and events that you are were most inspired by.
- You can do a physical movement like stretching or yoga while thinking on the positive highlights of your day.
- You can look in the mirror and say positive things about your appearance.
- You can pause in the middle of a happy moment and say “I am grateful”.
Here are more ideas from Tiny Buddha on how to stick to a gratitude practice you can love.
I also reached out to my connections on Facebook to see what THEY are grateful for, and wanted to kick start your own ideas to start a gratitude practice.
Not to mention some shares from my family’s new tradition of a Thanksgiving gratitude box, which is a new tradition we will continue year after year.
What my Friends are Grateful For:
I’m grateful for my kiddo’s giggles and the freedom my business gives me to spend time with my family. ~ Anna Frandsen of the Heart Centered Entrepreneur.
I am grateful for yoga, my expressway to inner peace. ~ Liz Lear of SpiritSpur.com
I am grateful for my cuddly dog and that she works by my side. ~ Kathy Miles Wheeler of Www.the90daybook.com
I’m grateful for peppermint soy lattes, hugs from my kids, having a ridiculously supportive husband, and getting into a freshly made bed at night. ~ Carri Mansfield
Grateful for my families health, my doggie a chow chow who is in his late teens, my work in doing what I feel called to do and that I enjoy. ~ Angela Watson
I am grateful for the daily experience of living. Every single day has something to delight and find joy in. So, I’m ‘grateful’ for feeling… every single emotion and learning from it. ~ Cherise Greski of www.JoyfullyCreateYourLife.com
I am grateful for the situation in 2013 that was absolute HELL because it caused me to develop myself so much more spiritually and find my true purpose in life, which I am doing right now. This includes my gratitude that my daughter is now happy and healthy and our relationship is better than ever. ~ Heather Cypel of Acadianaenergyhealing.com
I am grateful for my journey and the transformation I’ve been through. Also, my dog. Always my dog. ~ Emily Socha from www.emilysocha.com
I am grateful for a morning ritual of breakfast, tea, contemplation and meditation. The repeating rhythm of morning light, candle light, solitude. It’s been my anchor for years and been a great comfort and space to grow from in some very tough times. ~ Patti Villalobos from www.pattivillalobos.com
Grateful for a nice day spent at home, catching up on laundry & watching Macy’s Parade. ~ Korki Blodgett
It’s so hard to pick just one! Of course, there are the big things like health, family, and home. I am so thankful for those things. I’m also thankful for little things like spinach to mix in my eggs and warm water for my shower. I’m incredibly lucky. ~ Mary Canfield
Big- healthy marriages, happy children, a roof over my head, Smaller- hot coffee in the morning, gas in my car, strong legs to take me on my morning runs. ~ Joan Dostal from Fit4Mom
Here’s what you may notice. Many folks are grateful for their babies (fur-covered or not), the freedom to live their life how they choose, and small luxuries that make life easier.It doesn't matter how BIG your #gratitudepractice is- it only matters how #thankful it makes you feel.… Click To Tweet
What I am Grateful For (since May):
Snuggles with my kids and Betsy
Not working full-time anymore
Meal prep complete
Paint by sticker book
Reconnection with husband- couple time
What my Family is Grateful For:
Thankful that God has given us everything we need.
All the support I get for my art and abilities.
Our home, our daughters and heat.
My world; my family.
Belly rubs (courtesy of Betsy 🙂