Let’s face it, there is a lot going on in our world today. There seems like there’s always something that needs to be done, somewhere we need to go, and we are constantly on the run in our personal lives. Then when you add are all the things that go on in our town, our country, and all around the world that we hear about it can be downright overwhelming, leaving you wanting an answer on how to have peace in your life.
A lot of what is going on around us can be unpleasant, to say the least, if we allow it. We can get consumed by spending too much time on social media, watching the news, and listening to all the negative things people are saying. After a while all the negativity can wear on you and you find yourself feeling down, sad, or even depressed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Your can choose to make a very simple change, and boost your mood, your energy, and your life for the better. What’s the secret? It’s really not a secret – it is gratitude – one of the most important items in my tools for a peaceful life
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. She wrote in Psychology Today that there are 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, which include more relationships, improved physical health, better psychological health, improved empathy, better sleep, improved self-esteem, and increased mental strength.
With all the benefits Amy Morin listed, why wouldn’t you want to practice more gratitude in your daily life? Here are some ideas to help with your daily gratitude practice:
Keep a list
You probably have a lot more to be thankful for than you realize. Begin counting your blessings by making a list of all the things for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as the sun shining, the smile of a child, or catching up with an old friend. You can keep your list in a notebook, or wherever is convenient for you.
My list is kept in a gratitude journal. Each day I write three things on a line of the journal. The only rule is it can’t be something I wrote previously on that page. My list is getting quite long as I’ve been doing writing in this particular gratitude journal for a little over three years.
Whenever I feel frustrated, down, or lacking anything at all, I just need to look at my gratitude journal and be reminded how blessed I really am.
Set your first thoughts of the day
What is your first thought when you open your eyes in the morning? It may be one of the most important thoughts of your entire day, so be careful what you think.
The first twenty minutes of our day set the tone for the entire day. If you wake up groaning about having to get out of bed and get ready for the day, chances are it won’t be your best day. If you change that thinking to focusing on the positive, you may be surprised how well things come together.
When I wake up in the morning, I usually say something like, “this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It reminds me I’m waking up for a purpose. You may find other ways to express gratitude in the morning. The important thing is to do it in the first twenty minutes.
It also helps to set aside a few minutes before you get going to review the positive things in your life. This is when I like to write in my gratitude journal.
Watch for the good. When you are in the car, notice the people driving that allow others to pass or get in front of them to make the exit. When you are in the store, notice the people that are helping others. Listen for the laughter of children as you drive by a playground on a warm day.
There is good all around us, all the time. It takes some effort to find it at first, but soon becomes automatic and you see more and more good around you. You may also notice that you attract more good in your life because we attract what we focus on.
Be someone’s reason
Help others to be thankful. A simple random act of kindness not only increases your own gratitude but the gratitude of the person receiving your kindness. Random acts of kindness can be any size. They can be as simple as paying for someone’s coffee order or as big as helping someone in need by refilling their pantry.
Sometimes it’s even better when you can practice random acts of kindness anonymously – especially if it is something that may make the recipient feel self-conscious or awkward.
Save the memories
In today’s world almost every phone has a camera. When your find something that makes you feel gratitude, snap a photo and save it so you can save the memory. You may also want to share it on social media if your’re comfortable because we need more positive posts. If someone does something kind for you, send a photo along with your thank you and they will feel your appreciation in a deeper way,
Get a gratitude jar
Consider starting a gratitude jar for you and members of your household to share. Whenever something happens that makes you thankful, jot a quick note and put it in the jar. On those days someone needs an encouraging word, just pick a note out of the jar to lift your spirits.
If you have a gratitude jar as part of a family project, consider reading the notes at Thanksgiving or the end of the year as a tradition. It is great for sharing memories and making holidays a bit brighter. It’s hard to have family tension if you are all feeling gratitude.
So, if you’re looking to boost your mood, improve your health, and reap the benefits try some of these tips to increase the gratitude in your life and the lives of those around you.
Find your purpose – find your joy!