If you’re a fellow Canadian, Happy Thanksgiving! It’s Thanksgiving Monday and one of my favourite times of the year. The leaves are changing, the crisp feeling of Fall is in the air, and long weekends like these are perfect for bringing family together. Regardless of whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, it reminds us to practice gratitude and both feeling and showing appreciation for all that we have.
But what does “practicing gratitude” even mean? And how can we make it a daily habit? Here are five easy ways to inject more gratitude into your everyday life.
1. Reflect on What You’re Grateful For
Carve out a few minutes each day to reflect on at least three things you’re grateful for. These can be small things (a kind woman holding the door for you or the fresh flowers you found at the market today) or big things (having a supportive partner or a roof over your head). The key is that they are things that you are truly grateful for.
I typically do this reflection at night in bed before going to sleep. Looking at the day I had, what I accomplished, and what I have to be grateful for is a positive practice that makes me feel centered and at peace.
You can also try this reflection exercise first thing in the morning (a great way to start your day!) before you get out of bed. (And check out this post for some other great ideas for morning habits!)
Lastly, I’d suggest subscribing to an inspirational email newsletter like Notes from the Universe for daily reminders about how things connect and why we’re here.
Doing this daily will turn gratitude into a habit, and before you know it, you’ll have entrenched this practice into a part of everyday life.
2. Write it Down
Yes, keeping a gratitude journal sounds cliché, but it’s a great way to formalize your gratitude practice and keep track of the amazing things that happen to you. Whether it be a gratitude journal, notebook, or just the Notes app on your phone, writing down your reflections makes them more real.
Feeling down? Grab your gratitude journal and read through the hundreds of things you have to appreciate. It will be an instant happiness boost!
3. Thank Someone
Along the same lines of making your gratitude more “real” is expressing it.
Shoot a text, send an email, write a handwritten note, (or even better, pick up the phone!) and thank someone. It doesn’t matter how small their action may seem, your gratitude will boost both your happiness and theirs.
My great aunt was a teacher and Vice Principal for years and recently received a beautiful email from a former student about the impact she had on his life. The note was based on her actions from decades earlier, but the student still took the time to reach out to her. It has such a profound impact on my aunt that months later, she’s still talking about it and gets teary eyed recounting his kind words.
This stuff works.
4. Practice Gratitude to Spot Treat Challenges
One of my favourite ways to use gratitude is by what I think of as “spot treating” challenges. In other words, zooming in on a challenge and working through it with an attitude and mindset shift. (For more mindset inspiration, check out my post on 6 Simple Truths to Help You Conquer the Monday Blues.)
A recent example is a challenge I had in my Etsy shop. I had listed one item at a heavily discounted price and therefore didn’t accept coupon codes to be applied. Despite clearly communicating this in the product photo and description, I still had people buying the product with a coupon code. Every time it happened, I had to go back to the customer and have an awkward conversation around them either paying the difference or removing the item from their order. It was uncomfortable and a bit stressful each time.
The last time it happened, I took a step back and truly appreciated the fact that I have amazing customers who have helped me build my shop to what it is. And to ultimately allow me to leave my corporate job to pursue growing my own businesses. With a mindset of gratitude and appreciation for them, I tried putting myself in their shoes. I stopped focusing on the frustration of customers not “following my rules” and instead appreciated their confusion at my shop’s seemingly odd conditions.
This made me realize that I should simplify things. I decided to allow coupon codes on all items and simply increased the price of that one item so that even with a discount I’d receive a reasonable margin.
Had I not felt gratitude towards my customers and tried to walk in their shoes, I would have continued down a path of confusion and anxiety every time the challenge arose.
Giving back to others is a great way to make an impact and experience gratitude. Not only will it cause you to appreciate what you have, but it will broaden your horizons to different people and experiences, giving you even more to be grateful for. My post about giving back to society shares ideas of how you can make a difference in your community.
This year, I volunteered with Dragon’s Nest, a Toronto-based program focused on teaching high school students about entrepreneurship. I loved it! It made me grateful for my business education and career experience (and the teachers and mentors I had myself along the way). It made me appreciate incredible programs like these that inspire today’s youth. And it made me grateful for getting the opportunity to coach and mentor others. A feel-good experience all around!
With the busy-ness of life, it can be easy to rush through every day, trying to tackle out to-do list and juggle many balls. Taking a moment to practice gratitude each and every day can have a profound impact.