It’s the time of year where we are all reminded to give thanks for the good fortunes and people in our lives. This is a time for family, fun, and feasting. We gather around our tables with our loved ones and say thank you for all the blessings that the past year has brought us.
This year I would like to challenge you to take your Thanksgiving a step further. Being thankful and having gratitude is not something that should be limited to just one day of the year. Having gratitude all year long can benefit your life in numerous ways.
In a 2012 study, a group of Chinese researchers discovered that higher levels of gratitude were associated with better sleep. They also found that people who practiced gratitude in their daily lives had a lower risk for anxiety and depression (more here on Psychology Today). Simply Googling “benefits of gratitude” will bring you countless more results.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our wants and desires that we forget to appreciate the things we do have. When we focus too much on the things we don’t have it becomes impossible to live in the present moment.
Chasing things will always leave you empty, longing and waiting for the next new thing to come around.
Living in the present, being grateful for the good fortunes we have right now, even if they are small, instead of worrying about things we feel are missing, could be the key to living a happy life.
How can I live my life with gratitude every day?
- Live in the present moment. It’s been said that “if you are anxious, you are living in the future.” When you catch yourself fretting over that missed promotion at work make a decisive effort to change your focus. Instead of dwelling on a perceived missed opportunity, think about all of the things you love about your job.
- Keeping the focus on your goals without letting your desires overcome you. You can have goals, hopes, and dreams without constantly longing to be your future self. Enjoying where you are in life now doesn’t mean you can’t set goals. Work towards your goals one step at a time, knowing what your next move might be, but paying attention to where you are today. Don’t forget to be grateful for all the work you’ve already done as you keep moving forward.
- Learn to let go when you don’t get what you want. Things don’t always work out the way we hope they will. When situations don’t go your way realize that new opportunities appear every day. Everything is temporary even disappointment. Someday you may be grateful your life took you down a different path.
- Remind yourself to be grateful. Live a joyful life. Any time you find yourself feeling sour about your situation make an effort to change your focus to all the good things in your life.
- Starting a gratitude practice. Working gratitude into your daily life is not difficult.
- Start a gratitude journal. Challenge yourself to write down the things that you are grateful for every night before bed (or whenever you have time). It’s easiest if you write at the same time every day. If you meditate try writing in your journal before and after meditations. Pay attention to how your meditation affects your journaling and vice versa. If you don’t want to write down your blessings – try listing five things in your head every day before bed.
- Use technology to your advantage. Another great way to work gratitude into your day is to set reminders on your phone. You can choose how often you want to be reminded. When the reminder pops up on your phone stop whatever you are doing and think of at least one thing that you are grateful for. Don’t snooze your gratitude alarm.
Keep working until gratitude becomes an automatic response. Rewiring your brain takes time, but the changes in your life are worth the work.