Six Tips to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
In November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, which is a time to celebrate with family and friends and be grateful for blessings in their lives. At Time Timer, we want to help you make every moment count with tips for cultivating an attitude of gratitude you can use this Thanksgiving season and beyond.
Scientists have found that practicing gratitude has genuine health benefits, shifting the heart to a healthier rhythm. Focusing on positive thoughts can also rewire the brain and change body chemistry--shifting our neural wiring from a negative bias (on the lookout for threats) to a positive bias, reducing stress.
In order to help you embrace this positive outlook, we wanted to make it easy for you to get started. Here are six easy tips to begin your gratitude practice, in 5 minutes or less!
1. Begin the day thinking of what you are grateful for.
If it’s hard to get started, take the negative emotions you are feeling and shift them to positive thoughts. Are you stressed about making school lunches for kids? Shift to being thankful you have the resources to feed your kids, and that you have a healthy family. Do you have a long commute? Be grateful for the podcast you can listen to or the companionship of a carpool buddy.
2. Thank people throughout the day.
Thank the person who saves the elevator for you as you run in and the mail carrier who checks to see if you have anything outgoing. Thank the barista, even if they spell your name incorrectly.
3. Focus on one person to be grateful for each day.
Kim Ridley on beliefnet.com calls this “Seeing the giver behind the gift.” As you practice finding someone to be grateful for, include your friends and family but also think of everyday people you don’t even know who provide benefits to you, from the person who delivers your dry cleaning to the toll booth collector who lets you continue on your journey.
4. Avoid comparisons.
Comparing what you have to what your neighbor has can steal your joy. Don’t let it. When you find yourself feeling jealous of what someone else has, steer your thoughts back to what you do have, and be thankful.
5. Give back.
Volunteering is an excellent way to practice gratitude by reminding you of the blessings you have. If you’re strapped for time, you can still make time for a financial donation or even practicing simple random acts of kindness to the person behind you in the drive-through.
6. Keep a gratitude journal.
Write at least three things you are thankful for at the end of each day. This not only seals your new gratitude practice but also can help ease the tension you might feel about the following day. You’ve made it to the end of the day, and you can do it again tomorrow.
These tips are suggestions for your gratitude practice. Whatever you do, focus on consciously recognizing your blessings until it becomes an effortless practice.
Next week, we’ll take a look at tips for helping our kids practice gratitude.