As Thanksgiving approaches, this is a time to acknowledge and savor the beauty and pleasure in our lives and reflect on what we are grateful for. A time to go beyond just occasionally feeling grateful and to actually becoming a more thankful person.
For myself, I find that life is filled with circumstances, which no matter how hard I do my best to be positive about, I catch myself using negativity to cope with the situation. I have a saying in my home that says, “It took more than a day to become who I am now and it will take me more than just today to change”.
One effective tool for changing my thoughts is that I have committed to keeping a gratitude journal. Every day I write down what I am thankful for. This practice supports us in having a more positive and grateful attitude.
These studies have found that people who regularly express gratitude have stronger immune systems, exercise more and take better care of their health. These people are are more alive, alert and awake.
Gratitude is among the highest vibrational energies and focusing on gratitude regularly assists all levels of healing and opens the door to personal transformation. When we are in circumstances that are filled with joy, freedom or love, it is natural to express gratefulness, the key is being able to do the same in all situations.
The great teacher Viktor E. Frankl, taught us in his amazing book Man’s Search for Meaning about gratitude in the midst of our greatest obstacles. He said, “we who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.
They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”.
As we align with this way of being, our life will change almost immediately, even if the circumstances don’t change. Gratitude eases the mind, calms the emotions and soothes the soul.
As you tap into gratitude, you will feel more optimistic. Your eyes and heart will open to more blessings and opportunities in life.
Here is my list of things that you can do in order help you to be more grateful:
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Take time each day to remember moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes or weaknesses, or valued people.
2. Remember circumstances you consider to be obstacles
As you embrace the lessons that you want to learn while you are experiencing a negative circumstance, if you can remember one or more reason to be grateful, you will develop a strength that will sustain you. Gratitude is supportive; when life gives you another hard times and you can reflect on an even harder experienced you had in the past where you were able to reframe a negative experience into a positive one with gratitude you will have a higher sense of self-worth. When you remember how difficult life circumstance used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness and well being.
3. Ask yourself three questions
“What can I learn from these circumstance?”; “What have I given of myself to be thankful for because of these circumstances ?”; and “What belief systems or event from my past allowed me to create these circumstance?” As I journal these questions I become more aware of the challenges that get in my way because of ingrained belief systems from the past.
4. Stop and focus on your senses – breathe and focus on anything positive
Through our senses—the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear—we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. As I learn to see through the lens of gratitude, I appreciate my body as a miraculous gift.
5. Use visual reminders
Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude.
6. Make a commitment to practice gratitude
Research shows that making a commitment to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Therefore, write your own gratitude commitment, which could be as simple as “I promise to count my blessings each day,” and post your promise somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
7. Use mindful language
Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that starts with directing pleasant thoughts through the mind. If you tend be a negative person or have negative circumstance on a daily basis to deal with, writing pleasant thoughts enhances this process.
Begin by observing your immediate environment and gently notice something that pleases you. Hold your attention on this pleasing object as you consider how wonderful, beautiful, or useful it is. Express out loud and then express gratitude for the object. Then, again observe you immediate environment and notice something that does not please you. Consider how to reframe the negative thought until you are able to have positive thoughts and gratitude for this unpleasant object.
As you embrace the lessons that you want to learn, you will develop a strength that will sustain you beyond the circumstances, allowing you to deal with stress more effectively. “Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.”
8. Go through the motions or, as the saying goes, fake it ’till you make it
If you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude will be triggered. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude.
9. Think outside the box
If you want to make the most out of opportunities to flex your gratitude muscles, you must creatively look for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful. Mother Teresa talked about how grateful she was to the sick and dying people she was serving because they enabled her to grow and to deepen her mindful behavior and spiritual awakening.