You are so ungrateful! Having been a teenager chances are you have heard it occasionally from your parents. Truth is, wanting to spend time with friends or doing whatever you believe it is the best or coolest thing to do without caring about others – especially your parents – is part of going through your teens.
What happens though when you grow-up and keep not caring about others or even about yourself? You go through the motions, complaining non-stop and blaming everyone including yourself for your bad fortune and poor decisions. Or you turn your focus into every single negative thing that happens and keep feeding those negative thoughts and feelings.
I get you! You turn on the TV and all you hear are bad news. You go outside and all you see are people covered in masks walking away from you. At home, boundaries are blurry and there is barely enough space for two people to work, let alone when the kids cannot go to school. Last time you visited your loved ones seems so far away that memories start to fade.
Let us try to put the gratitude lenses for a minute. You turn on the TV and tune to a different channel or you read a book instead. You walk outdoors, gaze up the sun and observe the flowers blossoming, or you wave to your neighbor crossing the street. Prioritizing your tasks, you grab lunch with your partner and enjoy a nice conversation. You finish work earlier and go play with your kids outside. Thinking about how much you miss your family, you pick up the phone to video chat with them or maybe you start a scrapbook and mail it to them.
You get to decide how to behold and interpret both your inner and outer world. This week, I share with you 5 actions to bring you closer to gratitude in your daily life.
1. Keep a gratitude journal: We have talked before about the power of journaling, how writing down your thoughts and emotions in a piece of paper can be helpful, even therapeutic. You can easily dedicate a section in your journal to gratitude. First thing in the morning or before you go to bed, write down the top 3 of things you feel grateful for. Remind yourself of the gifts and joy in your daily life. It can be anything from the smallest moments to personal attributes, to people you value and appreciate. Do it consistently, see how it influences your mood and your overall wellbeing.
2. Notice the good in life: Not particularly easy when bad news are constantly being broadcasted, or when you step outside and all you see are faces whose smiles are unrecognizable behind the masks. If you look beyond though, there is beauty to behold. Appreciate nature in its splendor, feel the wind on your face, the fresh air running up your nostrils, gaze up the sun or get wet under the rain. Recognize how life is a gift and every day a chance to start anew. An opportunity to be kind to yourself and to others, to show grace and gratitude, to be part of the good in this world.
3. Savor the little moments: Live mindfully, be present in everything you do. Often we run from one thing to another, forgetting to savor the moment no matter how small it may seem. If you are sipping a cup of coffee, just sit quietly while enjoying the warmth it exhales and leave the other million tasks aside for 5 minutes. When you are playing with your kids or grabbing lunch with your partner or friend, engage in the moment and feel grateful for taking the time to be available. Instead of taking these moments for granted, embrace them from a place of joy and gratitude.
4. Practice daily acts of kindness: Giving to others without expecting in return is one of the biggest forms of gratitude. Tell someone you love them and how much you appreciate having them in your life. Write a gratitude letter to a loved one or perhaps to someone you haven’t been in touch for a while. Help a neighbor carrying his/her groceries or let a stranger go in front of the line in the supermarket. Thank a colleague or a client for the great work done. Donate money or volunteer for a cause you believe in. Whatever you decide to give, give it heartily. Whatever you decide to do, do it from a place of gratitude. Wait and see the positive energy you generate from these acts of kindness.
5. Stop complaining, start complimenting: We all carry stuff. We all have bad days, ones worse than others. How does it help if you keep complaining to yourself and to others? Leave complaining and gossip aside. Appreciate yourself for your many blessings, talents and strengths. If you made a mistake, turn it into a growth opportunity. Compliment a loved one when they look good. Say or text something nice to a friend to show how much you value them. Give a compliment to a colleague or to the shopkeeper. Pay attention to your language and communication style. It does not mean eradicating an occasional curse, especially when you are angry or tired. What you say and how you say it matters though, so avoid negative self-talk and bring more positivity to your conversations.
By embodying these actions into your daily life, you get to feel grateful. You are inviting gratitude into your life. Savor the gift of giving without expecting in return and open yourself to receive love and joy in abundance. Do not fear scarcity for it is a product of your imagination. Be kind, be curious, be open. You have a lot to give, the world has plenty to give too. Be a generous giver and grateful receiver.