It’s a new year, and the holidays are over – time to set goals, write down those resolutions, and think about what we want to improve or change. Maybe it’s going to the gym more, drinking less caffeine and more water, or even setting a goal to take that vacation that you have always dreamed about finally! Making resolutions and setting goals are great ways to continue to grow as a person, as well as beautiful ways to motivate yourself or others to make positive changes. So, while you are reflecting and making that list, there is a goal to add that is often overlooked but is a great pairing – practicing gratitude. Thanksgiving is over, sure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a goal to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life! But what does that really mean? Sure, saying thank you to the barista in the morning is a big part, but gratitude is a mindset that takes practice. This practice will lead to better overall mental health and a domino effect that creates a more content and happier environment and life.
While being sure we let others know we are grateful and appreciate them and what they do for us is important, it is also about realizing that we have so much to be thankful for. Even the seemingly little things like getting a cup of coffee in the morning, someone letting you merge while driving, or being alive at the same time as pizza rolls. Gratitude is how we slow down and make sure that we are present in the moment and making space for the positive in our lives – even when we might be having a bad day, and it’s hard to see that light still there. When we notice the seemingly little things and celebrate them, we start to see the world in a different light. As host homes, this is also a great way to center yourself and help consumers through challenging feelings and moments. By practicing gratitude, you create a deeper connection with yourself, and it is a great way to regulate those negative feelings when they come up and bring you back to the center.
Way to Practice Gratitude in Your Everyday Life
Robert Emmons, psychology professor and gratitude researcher at the University of California, Davis, explains that while gratitude has numerous mental, physical, and social benefits, it’s not always easy to do – which is why it takes practice! Here are some ways to start incorporating gratitude into your life.
1. Start a Gratitude Journal. There is no right or wrong way to do this – get a notebook or start a Word document on your laptop – as long as you get to writing! Try to be as specific as possible about what you are grateful for, but don’t feel like you have to write a novel. Try to aim for writing a few times a week, and don’t worry about word count; just try to give detail and depth to your entries.
2. Ask yourself questions. Consider three questions to ask yourself when you are having a rough day. Maybe questions like, “Who am I thankful for in my life?” “What in my life am I grateful to have?” “Who has helped me in my life or continues to do so?”
3. Remember the not-so-great times. This is especially great to do when you are having a bad day. Think about a time in your life when things weren’t great, and then think about how far you have come and where you are now. Remind yourself of what and who in your life makes it better, and then come back to the present moment and see how your current perspective shifts. Yeah, not everything is going well, or you are upset, but you have felt like this before and got to where you are now and will do it again.
4. Be mindful of your words. We think of words and language as something others hear and react to or are affected by, which is true, but we are also affected by our terms. Try to change how you speak about situations or yourself when you talk negatively. There’s always a time and place to vent, but when we are constantly negative about our environment or ourselves, we can start to see only that and miss out on all the good.
5. Take time to notice what is around you. Take a minute and stop and look around you and list all the things that you love, bring you joy, or that you can’t imagine living without. We are very busy in an equally busy world, so it is easy to take for granted even the simple things that make our lives full. However, you might be surprised to see how those little things add up and mean much more to you than you think!
6. Share your gratitude with others. Telling someone thank you is obvious, but it makes a big difference in someone’s day and yours! Let people around you know you are thankful for them or something they do for you. This not only creates a chain reaction of gratitude, but it will make you feel even better, too.
7. Create reminders. It might take some cues to help you practice gratitude, such as visual reminders to help you recognize moments you remember to be mindful and grateful.
8. Make it a resolution. Just like setting a goal to work out five days a week or to cut down on screen time – setting an intention to be more mindful and practice gratitude is a doable habit that you can incorporate into your life. Promise to stick to it and make it a daily routine by making it something to work towards.
Just like any new habit, it takes some work to make it a part of your everyday routine, but once it is part of your mindset, you will be surprised how your thoughts will naturally look for the positive and give you a new perspective. If you are a host home or relief home, this is also another way to help consumers process bad days or negative emotions, as well as help them see all of the progress they are making.