By Molly McGillicuddy
Sometimes gratitude is easy. The sun is shining. Your partner had dinner ready when you came home from work. Your co-worker bought you a coffee “just because,” and at yoga, the teacher seemed to know all of your favorite poses. You had time to take a walk in the woods, see a show, or enjoy a good meal with good friends.
There are countless things in our lives we can be grateful for. But sometimes we can get stuck in a cycle where gratitude might be the last thing on our minds. It’s pouring and you forgot your coat. You open the fridge to make dinner after an exasperating day at work and only a jar of pickles stares back. You spill the coffee or burn your tongue, and at yoga, you wonder exactly how it is that the teacher seems to know all of your least favorite poses. There is no time for a walk, or a show, and you haven’t connected with your friends in far too long.
Yes, sometimes it might seem like we’re chalking up more tallies in the “things to complain about” column than its opposite, but if we actively practice gratitude, we can start to shift that perspective.
I’m no expert, and I know that there are a hundred things I could do differently to practice living with more gratitude, but I thought I’d share with you a start. I tried to make these simple tips that you could begin incorporating in your day right away.
STRETCH IN THE MORNING. I’m not saying you need to set your alarm any earlier or roll out your yoga mat and do a full practice. In fact, you can even stay in bed and just do some simple movements to wake up. Stretch from fingertips to toe tips. Bring your knees to your chest. Do anything that feels good and notice that feeling. Notice your body and say thank you.
GET OUTSIDE. Nothing fancy, just open the door and walk outside (put your coat on! It’s November.). Outside, notice how the sunlight filters through the trees, the way the clouds glide quickly on a windy day, the crisp and earthy smell of leaves. Reconnect to simplicity and the natural rhythm of the earth.
ASK WHAT YOU CAN LEARN. When you meet an obstacle, ask what you can discover. Maybe an injury teaches you about patience and self-care. A hard-to-deal with co-worker could help you learn empathy. Encountering harsh self-talk and noticing it could teach you compassion.
SHARE YOUR APPRECIATION. When you are thankful, say thank you. When you notice something beautiful, kind, interesting, amazing, or funny, voice that appreciation and allow others to share in your gratitude.
NOTICE WHAT YOU HAVE. Shift your perspective so you can see your life and experiences from a point of gratitude. Recognize all that is full and abundant in your life, rather than what you lack. And start small with the day-to-day world and all the many good things that fill your life.
BEFORE BED, TAKE STOCK. You can use a journal and write your thoughts or you can just note quietly to yourself something in your day for which you are grateful. Close your day giving thanks.