It’s nearly Thanksgiving, so gratitude is top of mind. But feeling grateful need not be a once-a-year occurrence. That’s why we loved the gratitude challenge that recently swept through social media. Did you spot it on Facebook? Participants used their status message to post their gratitude, featuring friends, family, benefits, and everything that made their days better.
As it turns out, being grateful is more than just a social stunt or yearly ritual—it’s good for your health. A 2008 study of children found that “counting blessings was associated with enhanced self-reported gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction.” Make those positive attributes part of your life. Be grateful every day! Here’s how.
1. Count your blessings
It can be as simple as remembering to take a moment to think about the good things in your life. Does this seem cheesy to you? If so, think how easy it is to complain: it’s Monday; it’s raining; the post office line is long.
Given how swiftly complaints come to mind and trip off the tongues, the notion of purposefully taking time to acknowledge moments of appreciation may seem less silly. You can make a gratitude list, or, make like Oprah and keep a daily gratitude journal. Or, go around the table at dinnertime and have every family member mention a positive thing that happened in their day—after all, why restrict this lovely ritual to one day a year?
2. Flip your complaints around
On Momastary, Glennon Doyle Melton writes how offers to redo her kitchen turned her own gaze critical, with a focus on the negative, needs-improvements aspects of her cooking space. But when she looked with fresh eyes, seeking the positive, she found much to be happy about, from a space for her children’s artwork to working appliances and running water.
Sometimes gratitude is as simple as turning a complaint around, and reminding yourself of what you do have. Put another way, on a day with heavy traffic, be grateful for a working car.
3. Bring cheer with you
Bring gratitude not just into your own life, but those of others. As Mark Twain said, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” Don’t keep your positive thoughts inside; share them. Give good compliments – specific and genuine. Tell friends when outfits are attractive; let coworkers know when emails are effective.
On a similar note, consider taking a complaint break – the period of time can be as long, or short, as you’d like – and banning complaints and unnecessary statements from your days.
4. Give back
To help solidify your ability to think of your haves, instead of your have nots, prioritize experiences over things. This can be particularly hard during the holiday season, and also, often a challenge for children. But in truth, it’s the intangibles – health, relationships, a happy home – that are far more important on a day-to-day basis than the latest video game, the “it” purse of the year, or the latest cell phone.
Donating time, or money, to a charity can help heighten your awareness of all the things you have yourself, both tangible and intangible, that are valuable and worthy of gratitude.
What are you grateful for this year? How often do you think about the positives in your life? Use the hashtags #thankful and #blessed to share the things you appreciate.