While I believe it is important to remain in a grateful state all year long, there is no denying that November is definitely the month of gratitude. It is the time of year when we are reminded to count our blessings. I always tend to get a little more sentimental during the holiday season and Thanksgiving is all about, well…giving thanks of course. But the reality is that the holiday season can be very stressful too. So, I want to give you a few tips to help you remain in gratitude amidst the hustle and the bustle of the holiday season.
If you picked up a copy of this month’s O, The Oprah Magazine you may have read my overdue thank you titled Dear Mom. I revisited my biggest personal struggle and thanked my mom, who I didn’t see as a support at all during my teenage years. Our strained relationship (which my teenage self also played a huge role in) felt more adversarial back then. But the reality is that sometimes we really can’t see the forest for the trees. When you are in the thick of things everything can look different but when the clouds (or trees) clear you can see everything a little more clearly and with a little more grace.
So, while we all know that it is easy to say how grateful we are for things or people in our lives when things are going well, it can be harder when things aren’t coming up roses.
Here are three simple steps you can do throughout the day to foster an attitude of gratitude- even during your most challenging days.
Start each morning with gratitude journaling-Even on my toughest days I always start my day by listing a few things I am grateful for. Some people actually journal about their grateful thoughts, but for me I commit to simply writing down a few things I am grateful for in that very moment on that very day. Sometimes its a few sentences if I want to focus on an event happening but many times it just a name or a word or two. I do this in my planner because it is part of my ritual. Even if your planner doesn’t have a space specifically for gratitude it probably has some white space next to a to do list area. I simply title it Gratitude and jot down a few things that bring me a feeling of warmth or joy right then. This shifts me to a grateful state before even starting in on my to do list. If you aren’t planner obsessed that’s okay too. Simply take a moment and acknowledge a few things you are grateful for before you start your day.
During the day send an email, text or simply phone a friend or family member with a compliment or a simple I am thinking of you or I love you-thinking about a positive trait that a friend or a loved one has makes you feel a sense of gratitude for having loving, encouraging, inspiring or positive people in your life. When we focus on the shortcomings of our friends and family members (and trust me we all have shortcomings) it doesn’t really do much for our overall state of joy or happiness. When we shift that focus to the positive it helps to move us into a more grateful state. Taking the time to send a quick message about those thoughts not only uplifts the recipient but it does the same for you. It also creates a space where you become accustomed to communicating that way and it won’t be long before you are reminded that you’re being thought of warmly by a friend or family member too.
End your day by thanking yourself (your body, your mind, your creativity…) –This one can be a little tougher than the others. We have been taught to thank others since childhood but it is a little harder to learn to extend that same courtesy to ourselves. Come up with an affirmation or challenge yourself to thank yourself for something new each day. It is often said that the voice in our head is the one we hear most often. How true! Make sure you hear a daily thanks from you to you!
Those are my three little steps to remaining in gratitude. The headline of the November O Mag says that Gratitude Shifts your Attitude! I couldn’t agree more and I think that doing what you can to remain in a grateful state all the time, and not just when you’re winning, is the real way to live in harmony!
I would love to hear your thoughts and let me know if you read the article in O Mag too!
Until next post,