Around this time of year, we often take time to stop and reflect what we are thankful for.
The real question is, why does it take a holiday with “Thanks” in the title to remind us of all we have to be thankful for?
Here are some ways to be thankful for what you have year-round.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. At the beginning of every week or month, write down all the good things that happened the week or month before; big or small. I.E. “Successfully trained dog on how to roll over”, “Caught up with old friend over coffee”, “Brought up concerns with boyfriend as they happened, rather than as a passive-aggressive explosion”. These don’t have to be monumental victories, but every small item counts. Do this as often as makes sense for you.
- Use the right words. If you walk around saying everyone and everything “sucks”, you will always have a negative mindset. For example “my crappy job” can become simply “my job”. This won’t make your job any better, but it will change your attitude.
- Practice being present and mindful. Multitasking is no longer a fancy skill, but a necessity in today’s busy world. Take something mundane, like washing the dishes, and focus on simply washing the dishes. Don’t watch TV or check your phone while you’re washing them. Focus on the feeling of the warm water, the smell of the detergent. Yogis will understand, but for the non-yoga people of the world; this is an exercise in concentration. This task can help you relax.
- Practice meditation. Learn to stop and breathe. Check out this guide to meditation for beginners.
- Tell a different person every day why you appreciate them. This can be a coworker, your neighbor who never throws loud parties, your best friend, or your partner. These small acts don’t cost you anything but will remind you of the simple kindnesses in life.
- Find the thankfulness in each “negative” experience. Go to a theme park and stuck in long lines? Remember that many people will never be able to afford to go to that park, or aren’t able-bodied enough to ride those rides. It can be hard to think of these problems when your own problem seems so large, but having some perspective can be priceless.
- Volunteer your time. Volunteering is a lot more powerful than simply donating money (although this helps too!) because you see the impact of what you’re doing directly. For example, many animal shelters require volunteers to commit to 4 hours a month for a year. If you simply can’t make this commitment, ask if you can simpl volunteer at events or help do something easy, like post adoptable animal profiles online. Check out this list of ways you can volunteer in your community.
- Look around you. It can be so easy to be angry that you don’t get paid more, or that you are stuck in a bad situation. The hardest part is looking around you and realizing what you have. The things we take advantage of: running water, a roof over our heads, electricity, etc.; are things people in third world countries would cherish. That new iPhone doesn’t seem so important now does it?
Never forget to be thankful for what you have, even if what you have may not seem like the best. There’s always someone out there who has less than you.
Have a great, thankful Thanksgiving!