If You Develop One New Practice This Year, Let It Be Gratitude
By Allie Huss | HealthCorps Coordiantor 2019
“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.” You can find this quote framed above my bed, the perfect place for the daily reminder of all the things I have to be grateful for.
I’ve always tried my best to be thankful for all that I have. I’m fortunate in more ways than one, but it wasn’t until after my month of backpacking solo through a third world country that I realized just how lucky I really am. Let’s just say, after returning home I’d never been so thankful for a hot shower in my life.
In a society where we are taught to always aim higher and strive for more, it can be hard to feel like we have, or are, enough. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more. Setting goals and having ambitions is important for personal growth. But let’s not forget to appreciate what we have now while working towards what we want in the future. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present and cultivate positive emotions. Even in the midst of hard times, gratitude reminds us that maybe the things aren’t quite as bad as we make them out to be. Which is why I encourage you to practice gratitude every single day.
So, how exactly can you practice gratitude?
- Keep a gratitude journal – writing down what you’re grateful for slowly changes how you perceive your life by shifting the focus towards the good. Journaling every day is a great daily habit to develop. If you need a little help getting started, try “The Five-Minute Journal.” I can confidently say that this book is one of the best investments that I’ve made. It helps me start and end each day with a sense of appreciation.
- Be more mindful – have you ever gotten to the end of the day and thought “wow, where did the time go?” Some days, our lives pass us by and we forget to embrace the moment. Try sitting down every day and take note of five to ten good things that happened that day. Maybe it was something small, like a stranger giving you a compliment. Whatever it is, take the time to acknowledge it and you might just realize how often good things really transpire.
- Volunteer – it can be so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives with all of the items on our to-do lists. Volunteering allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself and take a step outside of your normal day-to-day perspective. It can be a great reminder of all that you have to be grateful for, and believe me, there’s always something to be thankful about.
- Say “thank you” more often – seems simple enough, right? We might think that we’re expressing gratitude, but when is the last time you really thanked a friend for being a great support system? Or a coworker for taking a load off your shoulders when you really needed it most? Write a note, send some flowers, or do any small act of appreciation that lets others know just how thankful you are.
Practice at least one of these things every day and watch how your life changes. The simple act of gratitude goes a long way and requires no money, just a little bit of time and effort. What do you have to lose?