It’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving is a great holiday to kick off the season because by its very name, it encourages us to take note of and be grateful for what we have.
Stopping to give thanks during this season is a wonderful concept. But do we do it? Research says we should. In fact, it has been said we should focus on gratitude year-round. Maybe we can use this season of Thanksgiving to cultivate a new habit – one more tool that may get us through some of our tough days and may help us foster a persistent, more positive viewpoint.
Here are some simple tips to practice bringing more gratitude into your life.
1. Put down the phone. Practice connection with someone that matters to you. Give each person the gift of your full presence and let them know that they are more important than anything else during that time you are together. I get it, this is tough! Get some practice with this baby step approach: make a point to not use your phone when you’re in a checkout lane. In most cases, the cashier can’t use his or her phone while working, so you won’t be the only one without a distraction. Give this person your full attention for the time your order is being rung up. I can almost guarantee you will be a bright spot in their workday and may make you smile too.
2. Notice kindness. Look for the news stories that report acts of kindness. Don’t miss a chance to congratulate yourself for the kindness you share with others and make a point to notice the words and acts of kindness around you. This can be hard if you are not feeling great, but it is worth the effort.
3. Keep a gratitude journal. Some days you may simply be grateful that the day is over, and that’s ok. Write it down. Allow yourself to be open to even the seemingly inconsequential things (I’d bet there are gratitude lists that include ‘comfy sweatpants’ and ‘grilled cheese’). And don’t hesitate to repeat things day after day. If you’re grateful for your cat, you can and should list your cat every day. Forcing your mind to seek and remember the good things around you will gradually shift your perspective – you will start seeking and seeing the things that bring you happiness.
4. Thank someone. We sometimes take the kindness of our friends and family for granted. Take the time to really notice when someone has done something they really didn’t have to. Let them know you recognize it and appreciate it. It may take a little practice to get comfortable doing this. Just start by saying ‘thanks’. It may be easiest to do this by text to get started. And try writing old fashioned thank you notes after you receive a gift. Simple gestures can really mean a lot.
Science tells us that purposely shifting our thinking from negative to positive can elicit a rush of feel-good hormones like serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine and allow us to connect to others more fully. Research goes on to say that our connections helps us feel more alive!
It isn’t easy, and it is just one of many tools, but it’s worth the push. Step outside of your comfort zone, try to change your mindset. Who knows, you may even motivate those around you!
Lisa Honcharuk, Manager of Marketing and Engagement