Alyssa has studied psychology, philosophy, religion, and the arts. She loves sharing her thoughts, ideas, and papers with the world.
Paying Attention to Our Blessings
November is the month where we all start to pay attention to our blessings. We try our best to infuse gratitude into our daily lives, and some of us may even join gratitude challenges. Once Thanksgiving is over and Christmas planning is abuzz, however, many of us throw daily gratitude to the wayside. We fall back into our old habits of saying thank you only once in awhile and forgetting to take the time to appreciate the small things.
Daily gratitude doesn't have to take up a lot of time or be a chore. It is easy and simple to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life. A little mindfulness and a little attention will help you create a gratitude practice that suits your schedule and life.
Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything.
— Alan Cohen
1. Start Your Morning Right
"When you arise each morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." -Marcus Aurelius
Every morning, as you wake up and get ready for the day, head out to work or get started on daily tasks, find three things for which to be thankful. It can be anything, big or small. Maybe you are grateful for employment when so many people are still searching for work. Maybe you are thankful for that hot cup of coffee that helps you get moving. It can be as simple as being grateful for being alive today.
This simple practice takes little effort, but can be life changing. When you start your day with gratitude, you are beginning the day with the right mindset. You have a better, more positive outlook, your mood shifts, and you are more likely to have a good day. As you continue to develop this morning habit, your appreciation for life will spread to the people around you and you will find that you are more successful in your daily tasks.
Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
— Dalai Lama XIV
2. Appreciate Small Gestures and the Everyday Tasks
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we often take our spouses, parents, roommates, and children for granted. They do little tasks for us and we come to expect them to continue doing those things. For instance, maybe your spouse always takes out the trash or does the dishes for you. These simple, mundane household chores need to be done and we come to expect others to do them for us.
Everyone wants to be appreciated. It feels good when we are thanked for our efforts, and it's nice to thank our loved ones for theirs. Saying thank you to your spouse for starting the car for you on a cold morning, will let him or her know you appreciate his or her effort. Say thank you to your child for vacuuming the floor for you. It takes little effort and shows your family you appreciate their efforts. You don't have to say thank you for every little chore; Yes, everyone should be doing their part. But saying thank you more often shows that you recognize their efforts, and they may be more likely to pitch in on other chores and tasks without prompting or nagging.
3. You're Never Too Old
Get outside and act like a kid. You're never too old to enjoy the sunshine, run around, and play. Take advantage of a beautiful summer day and go swimming in the lake. Visit a local park and have a picnic. Rake up those leaves in the fall and jump into the pile. It's a lot of fun! If you live in a place where there is snow in the winter, go out and make snow angels. Build a snowman. Get creative and build a different snow sculpture. Engage your kids or neighbors in a snowball fight.
No worries if you don't want to engage in those activities. A simple walk outside is enough. Connecting to nature ignites gratitude in us all.
Hang up bird feeders near your windows so you can sit and watch the different birds visit. I love my hummingbird feeder. I hang it up outside my dining room window each May, and pause each time a hummingbird visits. If I listen closely, I can hear them chirp. Sometimes, they will hover and look in the window as they chirp. I like to think they are saying a friendly hello.You can also watch the squirrels and chipmunks. My family likes to name our backyard wildlife. In addition, keep your eyes out for unexpected visitors, such as Katydids, friendly spiders, or deer. These simple ideas don't cost much, but will bring a lot of joy.
4. Before I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Set yourself up for a good night's rest and end your day with gratitude. Before going to sleep, mentally express thanks for your day. You might be thankful for the time you had to spend with your loved ones; for the delicious meals you ate; for something wonderful that happened at work; for your spouse; for your children; for your parents or grandparents; for your house and your car; for having electricity, internet, fresh running water; anything and everything. I also like to mentally prepare myself for the next day by thinking of all the things that I am going to accomplish.
"The mind is everything. What you think, you become."
This is a simple, yet powerful idea that will help you sleep better, improve your attitude, and help you practice gratitude each day.
"Close each day with a smile and paint the sky with your dreams."
Gratitude is a powerful practice and can have a positive impact on your life. A daily gratitude practice will shift your perspective, improve your mood, and change your mindset. Gratitude has the power to change your life.
It is simple and easy to incorporate gratitude into your every day life. I hope you found the above suggestions helpful.
The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.
Oprah's Gratitude Journal from OWN
© 2016 Alyssa
steve on April 22, 2018:
Superb article. I read your others too. They were helpful to me. Thanks.
Sally High from Orlando, Fl on November 23, 2016:
Thank you for this article. It is so true. If we are our thoughts than we create heaven or hell here on earth. Change you attitude and bring gratitude into your daily life.