In honor of Thanksgiving and the busyness it (and the next six weeks) will bring, I decided to take a week off from posting a recipe. Ok, ok, I’m also super swamped and didn’t have good lighting for the post I wanted to do this week. We’ll stick with the theme of gratitude though.
As some of you know, I’m a psychologist and maintain a private practice with it’s own blog apart from this one. So I’m stealing part of the post I wrote and putting it here. It’s good to find different ways to experience gratitude. I’m giving you five.
Get specific. Think of someone you are thankful for in your life. Bust out some ink and paper (or a Word doc, if you prefer typing) and write a letter expressing how much they mean to you. Again, get specific! Write down details, qualities, stories, and memories that make this person so important and dear to you. Then, when you’re done, invite friend out for coffee or ice cream or a meal at a favorite spot and read the letter aloud to them. Use the opportunity to connect with them on a quiet, personal level to let them know how much they mean to you. Give them the letter afterwards and talk about how it was to share it (from your POV) and to receive it (their POV).
Make a list. Another one involving ink and paper. Write down a list of what you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be short. After you’re done, you have a few options. You can share it with others. Or you can place it in a spot that is easily accessible and see it daily as a reminder of all the great things in your life. You can even write it on a small piece of paper and slip it in your wallet or put it as a note in your smartphone to use as a pick-me up on a stressful or bad day.
Journal. Journaling is a great way to get out thoughts and feelings that accumulate during the day. Keeping a gratitude journal helps focus your thinking onto things that are positive in your life. It can be however you want it to be, whether it is making a short list every night or writing full entries complete with details and examples. This is particularly helpful if you’re having some trouble with sleep. Journaling about what you are thankful for helps your body and your mind relax.
Get creative. A fun activity centered on gratitude is the gratitude mandala. Pull out some colored pencils, pens, and clean sheets of unlined paper. Write “I am grateful” in a circle in the middle of the paper. Then, like the rays of the sun, write out all the things you are thankful for. It can be as broad or as specific as you like. Because you’re going around the circle, it gets to be a pretty long list and makes you think hard about all the things you may take for granted on a daily basis.
Be mindful. Being mindful has so many great benefits in itself, but this specific way is focused on gratitude. Take a few minutes to slow down in a quiet place where you have your “me-time” and think about what you are grateful for that day. Give thanks. Pray for the ones you you love. Count your blessings. Give gratitude a specific place in your day.
Try some of these out and see how your attitude and your outlook on life changes as you focus your thoughts on what is wanted rather than what is unwanted. When you think about the things that make life wonderful, it also makes the obstacles and the hardships a little more bearable. Let gratitude, blessedness, thankfulness, and thanksgiving be more than just hashtags in a social media post and see how it opens up your life.
Check out the rest of the post here. And Happy Thanksgiving!!