By: Elizabeth Topp
Expressing gratitude is practiced regularly around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. But the reality is that gratitude should be practiced every single day by all of us. We are all challenged with something at any point in time: deadlines at work, bills due by Friday, expectations set by those we love; but we also have something to be grateful for. Even on your toughest days, you’re alive and that is always something to be grateful for. Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation and to return kindness. Simply, it is your attitude and outlook on your life. You have one shot at this life, you deserve to be happy, be optimistic, and to live a life you’re proud of.
We spend too much time making up excuses and wondering what we will get from it. Expressing gratitude has been shown to significantly improve many aspects of your life and benefit you in multiple ways including your physical and psychological health, your mental and emotional health, relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and others, your sleep, and your self-esteem.
Gratitude is not complex, expensive or time-consuming, it just requires a little effort. So, simplify, simplify, simplify – do not over think it. Start small! Like anything new, you can’t jump right into the red zone and expect to reap benefits and be great at it. In other words, don’t add two hours of meditation into your morning routine starting Monday. Start small. Say thank you at least once a day, and mean it. Take ten minutes in the shower or on the drive to work and verbally recite your blessings. Instead of scrolling through Facebook before bed, grab a pen and jot down what you’re grateful for in that moment. Give yourself a 30-day challenge. As these motions become habits, and the habits become your regular, do a little more – make it big. Start a gratitude jar and write something down every day for a year, then reflect. Meditate each day. Create a list of prompts and journal on a weekly basis. Send a letter or email to someone you’re grateful for. Make a reverse bucket list and post it where you read it regularly. Create a collage board in your home or office with items and images of what you’re grateful for. Integrate gratification into your life.
Not only is it important for you, but important for the children we raise and care for. They deserve a happy life expressing gratitude, too. Teach them manners and to express thanks. Create a gratitude flower or garden that they can design with their imagination and grow with. Ask them each morning while brushing their teeth what they’re grateful for. Providing a positive and grateful environment will instill gratitude in them, and it can change their life.
So, I challenge you! Start small. Write it down. Say it aloud. Pause and reflect. Then make it big. Get a journal, create a board, mail a letter. You are in control, and you have the opportunity to change your life. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.