With Thanksgiving right around the corner, a lot of Americans will soon be sitting at a table surrounded by loved ones and thinking of all the things they are thankful for. This year will be a little different in our house as we’ve started making gratitude a part of every dinner. Not just the ones that involve copious amounts of cranberry sauce.
I think that there are a lot of people out there that want to practice gratitude and be more thankful on a daily basis, but don’t know how. We’ve put together a list of 10 things that you can do on a regular basis that will help you be more grateful for what you have.
Take turns sharing what you’re thankful for at dinner time.
We started going around the table with our kids and each finding at least one thing from that day that each of us was thankful for. It’s not made into a big event, and we don’t make everybody wait to eat while we do it. We simply use it as a casual conversation starter to talk about the positive things from our day.
In addition to teaching the kids to be thankful, it has also helped them open up about their days at school. We used to ask how their day went or what they did and get a lot of “I don’t know” and “I forget”. Now the kids are excited to open up about what happened that day because it has become a little bit of a game for them.
Perform one act of kindness each day.
Not everything that makes you feel grateful is directly about gratitude. Look for one small act of kindness to do each day. It could be as simple as getting a door for somebody with a lot in their hands. The other day somebody in front of Angela at the drive-thru paid for her coffee. It made Angela’s day, and I can only assume that the other person felt a little better about themselves that day.
When you feel better about yourself, you’re more likely to focus on the positive things in life. Again, it may not be directly about gratitude, but the overall feelings it provides will definitely make you feel thankful.
Try to eliminate negative news and media.
This is one I’ve been working on for a couple years now ever since I read “The Four-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. He made the suggestion to cut out news as a way to be more productive. His argument being that the things that were truly important and that mattered to him, would make it to him in some fashion anyway. Removing news media from his daily routine did not disconnect him from the world or have a negative impact at all.
I’ll argue that removing news media from your life does the exact opposite. It actually has a positive impact on our lives. News outlets tend to focus on the sensationalized ‘bad news’. Oftentimes after absorbing a lot of this negativity, we are left with a feeling of depression. A feeling that all hope is lost in the world and there is very little to be thankful for. Obviously this is the very opposite of what we are trying to achieve.
Give it a shot for a week – try to avoid all news. This includes the negative articles that pop up in social media!
Hey, I didn’t say it would be easy.
Perform some volunteer work.
There is no better way to make you feel grateful for what you have than seeing other less fortunate be grateful for things you take for granted. Volunteer at a soup kitchen just one time and you will see what I mean. Before I first did volunteer work like this, I was afraid it would have the opposite effect. That seeing these people who had next to nothing to their names would depress me rather than lift me up. It can certainly do that – don’t get me wrong. More often than not however, the people you’re helping are happy and thankful for what you’re doing for them. Seeing them happy and thankful for something as basic as a warm meal really puts into perspective all the things you should be grateful for.
Obviously, it’s also a great way that each of us can make the world a better place, so… win-win.
Create a gratitude list and add at least one item each day.
Grab a notebook or journal and challenge yourself to write down each day just one thing you are thankful for. Here’s the catch though – you must try not to repeat anything. It will start out pretty easy and get difficult very quickly. Think about it though, after only one year you will have over 300 things that you are thankful for!
If you want, take it one step further and use loose sheets of paper. Then tack them to your vision board as you fill each one. You will be reminded daily of all the things – big and small – that you should be grateful for.
Catch yourself being negative and try to find a positive spin.
This one takes practice and a fair amount of self-awareness. The act of gratitude strengthens when you have a positive outlook in general. Try to catch yourself being negative in any way. Stop, take a deep breath, and change your thoughts to something more positive. If you can think of something positive in relation to the negative thought you were having, then even better.
If you do this often enough, it will become habit. The side effect will be an increased thankfulness for all those positive things you will be thinking of throughout the day.
Challenge yourself to not complain about a single thing one day a week.
Can you go a whole day without complaining about anything? Not only that, can you do it one day a week? When you are complaining, you are focusing on the negative. You rarely have anything to be grateful for when you are focused on the negative.
If you give this challenge a shot, be very careful of sarcasm. Sarcasm can often be complaining in disguise. I am a very sarcastic individual myself by nature, and I know that when I am being sarcastic, my underlying thoughts are generally negative. Nip this in the bud as well.
Be a positive influence on your friends.
This is similar to some of the other things we’ve talked about, but it’s very important to spread positivity to those around you. I am not talking about helping others when they are down – though that is important to. Rather, the focus here should be when people around you are doing some of the things we’ve discussed here, turn the conversation to something positive. For example, if your coworkers are complaining about the new TPS reports everybody has to complete, maybe try to steer the conversation towards the big win the local baseball team had the night before. If your relatives are over on Thanksgiving talking about the latest bad news, steer the conversation towards that ‘feel-good’ story you saw on the internet.
Make a gratitude board.
Similar to a vision board, this is a great way to remind you quickly of everything you have in your life to be grateful for. Where a vision board is full of pictures that you want however, make this gratitude board a collage of all the things you already have. Another thing you could do is mix the two. This way you would have a collage of things that you have and can be thankful for amidst the things you are still trying to attain or achieve. The balance of both of these is a combination of gratitude, motivation, positivity, and the law of attraction. That’s a pretty powerful thing to incorporate into your life.
Share a positive social media post each day.
We saved what we feel is probably the easiest for most people until last. I may be making an assumption here, but I am guessing that if you are reading this, you are probably active on some form of social media. I’m guessing that you also visit said social media site at least once a day.
Once a day try to find positive posts to share with your social media friends and followers. This can be a positive quote, a link to an inspirational article, or even just a beautiful picture. If you’re struggling to find something positive to share, you can always hop over to our Facebook Page!