There is something about this time of year that brings out the reflective, pensive side of myself. Maybe it is the longer nights, the anticipation of another year passing by, or the nostalgia that comes along with the holidays – but I am in full-on Oprah mode right now. I have been reflecting on my own ‘what I know for sure‘ really trying to create the intentional and happy life I want. I may be late to the party, but I have found myself coming back to gratitude. There has been a lot a buzz around the word ‘gratitude’ lately and I think it may be finally sinking into to my head that there is actual weight to that word that is casually thrown around. Practicing gratitude has really helped me to hone in on that fleeting idea of happiness and grounded me with a new perspective on what my own happiness looks like. Here are five ways that have helped me to practice gratitude. What are some of the ways you express gratitude?
Keep a journal – It doesn’t have to be a commitment – it can be just your stream of consciousness, a list, a random assortment of words – whatever way you find it easiest to get down on paper the things you are thankful for each day, just start writing. At first I found it hard to begin, but once I started making it a habit, I found my thought patterns throughout the day were naturally gravitating toward those positive things my life.
Reframe your thoughts – I know for me, when I let my negative thoughts run away with me, it is hard to gain a clear perspective. The trick is identifying when you are having a negative thought and trying to reframe it by seeing how it is probably based on a nonsensical idea to begin with. More importantly, you have the ability to call out those negative thoughts and replace it with a positive one. It may seem silly to engage in your thought patterns, but once you start doing so, you will notice the power of the positive thoughts as you go through your day.
Help out – It is amazing how you can learn so much about yourself by helping out others and in turn realize how much you really have in your life to share with the world. It could be walking dogs at an animal shelter, helping out with an organization like Habit for Humanity, or as simple as opening a door for something – it is these little things that help us realize the power of being connected to those around us.
Smile – Simply putting a smile on your face can brighten your mood and create a more positive outlook. Seeing things in a positive light illuminates all of the good things you have in your life and can bring a sense of gratitude towards the things you encounter. So aim to just smile a little more – to yourself, to your dog, to complete strangers and see how it feels.
Become present – As I have talked about before, practicing to be more present in your life can have great affects on your overall sense of happiness as well as help to reconnect with that which you are grateful for in each moment of your life. I know for me, it is so easy to get caught up in worry about the future or be stressed out about past events, but by being present those things fall away to reveal what matters in each moment.
Image / via /