Beyond Thanksgiving: How To Make Daily Gratitude A Habit
Does this scenario sound familiar? Every year, each person at the Thanksgiving table shares their appreciation. And, every year, you tell yourself that you’re going to make daily gratitude a more integral part of your life?
There are so many benefits to acknowledging life’s blessings, but many of us move through our days unaware and detached from the gifts we have all around us. When you become more attuned to your gratitude, you can harness greater happiness and fulfillment. Let’s get into how you can start.
Write Down Three Positive Things Each Day
You’ve heard of gratitude lists, but this exercise is slightly different because it’s structured and bite-sized for even the busiest of people to accomplish.
Start by writing down three positive things that went well for you that day. Don’t worry about the significance of each event. Catching your favorite song on the radio counts! For each item, indicate what happened and write down your thoughts and feelings using as much detail as possible. Keep these entries in a journal to reflect whenever you need a mood boost.
Carry A Tangible Token of Appreciation
The demanding grind of work, errands, family obligations, and daily chores can consume our days, weeks, and years. Your busy schedule can make it seem like life is one large game of catching up on your to-do list.
A physical token of gratitude can help center you when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It can be a tiny pebble, marble, or coin. Put this token in a place where you’ll remember it. Carry it with you in your pocket, leave it in your car cup holder, throw it in your purse. When you need a reminder to shift into gratitude, reach for this token.
Meditate For Two Minutes
You have probably heard the numerous benefits of meditation. Building a meditation practice can take time and discipline. Many people find themselves feeling discouraged because the idea of stillness and turning off the mental clutter is challenging.
If you are a novice to meditation (or you feel like you can’t meditate), two-minute breaks are an excellent way to start this positive habit. Start by setting a timer on your alarm for two minutes. Move into a comfortable lying or seated position and take several deep breaths.
Begin by reflecting on your internal gratitude. What’s happening in your body that you appreciate? Is it the air you are able to breathe? The clothes you are wearing right now? The legs that allow you to stretch, dance, and run?
Extend your gratitude outside of yourself and into what’s immediately surrounding you. Maybe it’s the bed that provides you with a good night’s sleep. Perhaps it’s your child playing in the next room. Allow yourself to reflect on all the external gratitude you feel.
If time allows, practice stretching the gratitude further. Move into the outside neighborhood, your country, or even the planet. Can you feel appreciation for the roads that take you to your favorite places? For the doctors and nurses keeping your loved ones safe? For the sun that keeps us all alive?
Practice Positive Affirmations
When you feel insecure or inadequate, it can be difficult to feel positive about the world around you. Rather than experiencing gratitude, you’re more likely to experience frustration, shame, and irritability.
Self-affirmations can help boost your self-esteem. They allow you to reflect on your own positive strengths and attributes. Start by using the words, I am. Keep the affirmation brief, positive, and realistic. Some examples include:
- I am enjoying my amazing family
- I am blessed for a job that pays me to do what I love
- I am growing physically and emotionally
- I am learning new things about myself every day
- I am worthy of love and affection
Affirmations work in different ways. You can say them out loud each morning, or you can write them down and glance at them at a set time every day. Just make it a habit to integrate them into your daily routine.
Daily Gratitude And Your Mental Health
Life can be undoubtedly hard, and we are all guilty of losing sight of the blessings all around us. Thanksgiving is a wonderful starting point, but it’s not enough.
The practice of daily gratitude allows you to recognize good things in your life on a regular basis. While gratitude doesn’t negate or disregard the hard and stressful realities we all face, it does provide space for acknowledging life’s positive moments. This habit can lead to more happiness and confidence, which can do wonders for your emotional well-being.
Are you struggling to find gratitude or acceptance of the circumstances in your life? You’re not alone. Traumatic experiences and other mental health conditions can impact our ability to experience joy and meaning.
Therapy can help you if you’re feeling stuck. Are you interested in learning more? Schedule a session with Willow Counseling today.
Willow Counseling, PLLC, Nashville, TN
Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.