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Gratitude: Taking Time to Reflect on What You Have

Paula Gurnett, C.C.C. October 1, 2021

If you ever get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, you know how out of touch you can get with the things that really matter. But you actually may have more to be grateful for than you think, regardless of the circumstances in which you may find yourself.

Each person has their own unique list of things that bring simple pleasure, feelings of pure joy, or just a sense of comfort each day.

You can be grateful for physical blessings like where you live, the climate you reside in, or for your home. You might be thankful about certain people being in your life. This may include your kids, your grandparent or your best friend.

Research shows that practicing gratitude can result in:

- Improved sleep and mood

- Decreased stress and depression

- More positive relationships

- Increased life satisfaction

If you’re unsure how to intentionally cultivate gratitude, consider these suggestions:

1. Take five. Allow yourself five minutes each morning to experience thankfulness. Take these moments to simply think about the past day or the present moment. Say to yourself, “One thing I’m thankful for is___”. Fill in the blank with something you noticed from the last 24 hours. Think on it for a minute or so. Smile about it. Then go on with your morning.

2. Appreciate your world openly. Share your gratitude with others. For example, if you’re chatting on the phone with a friend, you could say something like, “I went shopping with my sister yesterday and she was so helpful when I wanted to pick out a new dress”. When your verbal acknowledgements to others demonstrate the gratitude you feel, you’ll develop a habit of recognizing what you’re thankful for.

3. Notice the small stuff. Promise yourself you won’t take little things for granted. Because life becomes crowded with people, tasks, and objects, you may feel challenged to notice small bits of wonder in your day. But if you put your mind to it, you’ll be astounded at what you see.

· Open your eyes to the wonders all around you. They won’t cost a dime. A sunset, the first sip of your morning coffee, the smell of fresh cut grass, your puppy’s greeting after a long day, or your child smiling up at you. The small things in life really turn out to be the big things…the more you notice, the more you become aware of your blessings.

4. Learn to turn your thoughts around. When you discover you’re thinking negative thoughts, imagine a big stop sign and say, “Stop” out loud. Then, replace the stop sign with an image of something around you that you’re grateful for right at that moment. Think about that object, experience, person, or situation and bask in your positive experience.

5. Keep a gratitude journal. If you find you’re having difficulty remembering to notice the things that stir your inner thankfulness, perhaps starting a gratitude journal would help. A journal is a tangible visual aid that will trigger you to think about what you’re grateful for.

· Try just putting the date on the page and jotting down what you’re grateful for at that time. You can write as much or as little as you wish. Place your journal in a spot where you’ll see it frequently, like on the dining room table, the kitchen counter, or near your favourite chair. This way, you’ll be prompted to experience your gratitude more often.

· Writing in a journal not appealing to you? There are many alternatives and you can be creative as you find something that feels like a good fit for you! Some ideas to try might be:

- Art journal (express yourself through art…no words needed!)

- Gratitude jar (put your gratitude statements on a slip of paper and collect them in a jar)

- Positivity folder (collect things that remind your of something you are grateful for …like the fortune from your dinner with a dear friend)

- Habit tracking (track your gratitude practice)

- Visual journal (capture moments through snapping a photo - build a collection of photos that are moments in your day you were intentional to notice through a lens of gratitude)

- Tweet or post a gratitude thought or moment

Being grateful is truly one of the things that makes life worth living!

Open your eyes and mind to the people, places, things, feelings, and experiences that you are grateful for. You’ll feel so much better about your life.

“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny”. – Robin Sharma -

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