Practicing Gratitude Will Change Your Life - Here's Why
It’s November! You know what that means right? Yes, the last remnants of auburn autumn colors gracefully falling to their place of rest, leaving space for barren branches to be seen as they kiss the sky. Yes, winter has purchased her return ticket and may be on that red-eye home sooner than expected. Yes, that crispness in the air that used to flow deeply in, expand your lungs and revive your soul is slowly turning into a stream of steam on your exhale. But more than that, it’s National Gratitude Month! And I know what you’re thinking: it’s a global pandemic, what time do I have to think about National Gratitude Month when I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that my world has flipped upside down, been put on pause, fast-forwarded and played in slow motion all at once?!?...while also trying to survive!? But did you know that many studies have found that gratitude is consistently and stoutly associated with increased happiness? That's right! Gratitude is valedictorian when it comes to qualities that are beneficial to individuals as well as collectives. A quadruple threat that helps people better deal with adversity, feel more positive emotions, boost health and build healthy, strong relationships. What’s not to love (or be grateful for), right? And you don’t have to be a Guru in an Ashram with no worldly possessions to feel and express gratitude on a daily basis.
Here are 3 simple steps you can take everyday to remain grateful this month (and in your future)! So go on, read more and give your mental health a little lovin’!
1. Remain present for a meal every day
Do you eat to live or live to eat? Food should be a basic human right. However, not all of us are blessed with hand-pulled noodles or curried goat readily available for your consumption at the click of a button. And did you know that a simple healthy eating habit is to remain present while you savor (and yes, that’s the key word here...SAVOUR) your meals? Studies show that those who take the time to experience their meals with all their senses, that is to eat mindfully, make healthier food choices as a result of their awareness of the food they are eating and the way said food makes them feel (including a heightened recognition of their fullness). So take the time, once a day to sit and feel grateful for the food you are about to consume; because not everyone gets to go to bed on a full stomach. This reality alone will kick-start your consciousness to recognize how lucky you are to have this meal in front of you; which will make you grateful for the small blessings receive every day. So put your phone away, get comfortable and experience your meal with all your senses. Process how each bite, in flavor and texture, excites you and be thankful for this very human experience.
2. Say “Thank you”
Ok, I know you’re thinking: “well that’s a no-brainer”... but I’m talking about saying “Thank you” with intention. Yes, you should thank the barista who handed you the last pumpkin spice latte of the season, or the kind stranger who held the door open as you were juggling your groceries, keys and cellphone while simultaneously trying to adjust your mask with awkward grimaces and nose-crinkles. These should already be incorporated into your day-to-day activities (and if not, well...I don’t really know what to say...). But more than that, take the time to think of 2 (or more!) people in your life who inspire you, support you, love you (or any other thing that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside) and thank them, once again, with intention. Be specific on what it is that these individuals do, give or represent to/for you and how it makes you feel. Giving to others actually has a boomerang effect; consequently making us happy in return. And don’t let consumerism fool you into thinking this has to be associated with a dollar sign. Giving thanks to someone uplifts their mood which in turn makes you feel good too! Thankfulness is a feeling whereas gratitude is an action. So take the time this month to combine the two! Let someone know what they mean to you and see how it makes you feel! It doesn’t need to be Mother’s Day to tell her how much she means to you or reiterate why you’re grateful to have people in your life!
3. Practice self-love
“Comparison is the thief of joy”. I know we’ve all heard this quote before, but its resounding truth is undeniable. Think of a time that you were overcome by that green monster. I’m sure we can all recognize that if we dwell on our mishaps, misfortunes and shortcomings through comparison with others we lose out on maximizing our potential, manifesting into a self-fulfilling prophecy. So this month, write down some qualities, characteristics, accomplishments or ambitions that make you uniquely you; make you feel good, feel proud, or just smile. Maybe you mastered a TikTok dance, or baked your first batch of cookies. Maybe you got a promotion or you failed a project miserably but took it in stride. Maybe you’re a great provider for your family, maybe you’re an empathetic listener to your friends. Maybe you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone or maybe you started to set aside a little time each day to pamper yourself. Whatever it is, take a moment to bring these wonderful things to the forefront of your mind and recognize how amazing you really are. Be grateful for being YOU by showing yourself a little love and see how these simple affirmations and realizations positively impact your self-confidence!
See? It's as easy as 1, 2, 3! Gratitude doesn’t have to be a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro; it’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, like baby steps, walking towards the light and love of the essence of your being. Happy National Gratitude Month to you all! Let's give thanks for our blessings and guidance will come!
Written by Bayza Mirotchie