Easy Ways to Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is important, but how do we practice it
Believe it or not, there are so many easy ways to practice gratitude in your daily life. Last week we talked about how important it is to live in gratitude. All the benefits it can have over your mental and emotional states, self-esteem, and relationships. Yet, you might find yourself at a loss for how to start living a life in gratitude. Don’t worry I would never leave you hanging! Here are some simple ways to get started in your own practice of gratitude.
The Small Things Count
Truthfully when most of us sit down and think about what we are grateful for we jump straight to the big things. The roof over our head, our close friends and family. Jobs and being able to pay your bills might be up there on the list too. These are all great things, and you should absolutely be thankful for all of them! Yet there are so many small things that we take for granted on a daily basis.
Simple things like waking up in the morning from a good night’s sleep. For me, a big one is seeing the sweet face of my german shepherd when I open my eyes. His goofy face makes my morning right away. Maybe it looks like a hot cup of coffee and some quiet time before the rest of the house wakes up.
Take a moment at the beginning of each day, or at the end of each night, and start thinking about the small things that you find yourself thankful that you have in your life. Often times we get so stuck in our worries about what we need or don’t have yet that we take for granted all that has come to us throughout life. Trust me if you’re looking for ways to practice gratitude then counting the small things is the best way to start!
Find Gratitude in the Struggle
We are all overwhelmed right now. 2020 has definitely been a sh*tshow of a year. Covid, lockdowns, furloughs, and politics. Seriously I’m ready for a new year! Mixed in with all of that are the things we are worried about. Jobs, food, bills, the new school system you name it we all have the struggle.
Personally, I’m working through my experience with covid right now. It has its ups and downs. I find myself complaining a lot about what is going on. Things I have no control over. Not having control is something that scares me. I decided this was a good time to look at the struggle I’m going through and turn it into something positive. This year has yielded so many things for me to be thankful for. I have found my vision for the future, started this blog, and am working on my new podcast Plus Size Project! More importantly, I was grateful to spend most of the year at home with my sweet dog! Not to mention I had some cool people to spend the lockdown with.
We already know that struggle teaches us growth. We learn, adapt, and change through every encounter we have. Take time to look back at these struggles and find the ways you’ve grown. It’s there you will find a way to practice gratitude. The kind of thankfulness that is deep and everlasting.
There is gratitude in the present moment
Being mindful is something we have talked about a bit here at Amberable. I’ve been practicing it for a few months now and it has had some significant changes in my life when it comes to anxiety. Color me surprised when I found out it’s also a way to practice gratitude.
We know that when we spend time worrying about the future or obsessing over the past, we can’t focus on the present. We lose so much of what is going on around us on a daily basis that it’s no wonder we struggle to find joy in our lives. When you can’t change the past, and you can’t control the future what do you have left? That’s right, you have this moment, this day. You woke up! You have 24 new hours to love, laugh, and grow in!
Take a few minutes a day and think about what at that moment makes you happy. What are you grateful for today! Not tomorrow, not what happened yesterday, just today! Learn to enjoy the richness and beauty that is the life you are living now! Find time to do this when you start to feel overwhelmed about things you can’t control, things you are worried about. Use the practice of mindfulness as a beacon of light to pull you back from the darkness.
You might even want to take this a step further and create a list or write in a gratitude journal. Adding something new each day. Over time you will find yourself amazed at all the pockets of gratitude you have come to be thankful for in your life.
Take a Break From Social Media and the News
This one should be a golden rule kind of deal when looking for ways to practice gratitude. We are bombarded every second of every day with negativity! It doesn’t stop. What’s worse is that if you don’t actively work to get away from it, social media and the news follow you! It’s in your pocket chirping at you with every new notification.
Social media can be addictive. Addiction Center defines it as a behavioral addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas.
If you hadn’t caught on yet, today’s culture pushes discontent. Why is this you might ask? Simply put if they can target feelings of negativity or struggle, then it makes it easier for them to sell us a product or idea that will “fix” the problem. The bottom line is your misery makes them money.
When you find yourself falling into this kind of pattern it’s time to turn it off. Put the phone down (heck turn it off if you can), turn off the tv or at least the news for a little bit, and just get lost in what you can do at that moment. Busy work, get creative, or perhaps spend some time with family or friends. Take some time out to work on you and the goals you’ve set out. You don’t need to buy into some miracle to fix your life. The power for that is all in your hands!
Treasure Your Tribe
This one is pretty simple but really gets overlooked. Think about your circle or tribe. When you’re down who is there to listen to you? If life is good who is there to share in your fortune. All of us have that friend, or if we’re lucky that group of friends, that become family. Therapists, support systems, and even reality checkers are all things we need in great friends!
Make some time to spend with these people. Build that bond and most importantly don’t be afraid to tell them that you are thankful for them. It’s in these friendships that you nurture your own personal growth.
The more you spend time with your tribe, the less you can worry about the “what if’s” in life. We weren’t meant to spend our lives alone without human contact or support. Yet the reality is most of us overlook how important these connections can be. If you’re looking for easy ways to practice gratitude think of your friends. A few hours with a close friend is worth hours of therapy. In fact, it IS therapy just the less expensive kind!
The Bottom Line
You can find ways to be more grateful in your life every day. From the big things down to the smallest of life’s little surprises. Learn to find the lesson in the struggle. The gratitude you can pull out of those lessons is a well that never runs dry.
We get so overwhelmed and caught up in ourselves that life can be bitter and rough, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When those feelings start to take over and seem never-ending, stop, and look for the things that bring joy into your life. Those are small treasures of gratitude that beat back the overwhelming darkness.
Most importantly, make time for yourself. Any of these practices can have long-lasting effects on your quality of life. It’s just up to you to remember that you are worth putting in the work for. As always, until next time, remember you are not alone!
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