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With the holiday season rapidly approaching, November is the perfect month to turn inwards and reflect upon the many blessings we have in our lives. Studies have shown that those who take the time to be thankful sleep better, have stronger immune systems, and feel more energized on a daily basis.
Don’t limit your expressions of thanks to just the holiday season, though! Follow these simple suggestions to begin integrating gratitude and generosity into your daily life.
Be present, loving and respectful in your daily interactions with others.
Gratitude doesn’t need to be expressed through grand and sweeping gestures! On the contrary, the ways in which we merely interact with others can show that we care. Convey respect and gratitude for others’ words and actions by putting your phone away and making eye contact with them when they speak. Whenever a friend or colleague does something that has a positive impact on your life, respond with a verbal or written expression of gratitude. When appropriate, use body language to signify your thanks. A tight embrace, a warm clasp of the arm, or an enthusiastic kiss on the cheek can express gratitude in ways that words cannot. Go the extra mile by asking questions about others’ lives, assisting them in little ways, and being there when they need someone to talk to. Your presence truly is one of the greatest presents you can give those in your life.
Mind the impact of your words and mindset.
In a world that is both chaotic and challenging, it’s easier than ever before to slip into a pessimistic mindset. Speaking negatively and judgmentally has become second nature to many of us; we often complain at the slightest hint of inconvenience. Though changing these habits is far more easily said than done, we can all become more mindful of the ways in which we speak and behave. Become aware of the situations in which you tend to enter a negative mindset. When challenged by negative people or difficult situations, strive to find different perspectives on the issues. Instead of being judgmental, appreciate the new insights that others have to offer. What lessons might be learned from this challenging time in your life? Instead of judging others, challenge them in loving ways, offering solutions whenever possible. Offer your assistance to others freely without expecting anything in return. By bringing encouraging words and a positive mentality to the table, you can express gratitude even in the face of life’s many challenges.
Reflect on what you usually take for granted.
From modern conveniences to the generosity of our families, nearly all of us are guilty of taking much of our lives for granted. How often do you reflect on the miracle of having running water in your home? Do you spend much time thinking about the rushed efforts of the restaurant staff serving you during a hectic lunch hour? Consider starting a daily “gratitude journal” to document all of the little things that you have to be thankful for. Remind those who take care of you on a regular basis that you’re grateful for them and appreciate their efforts, too. Take the time to craft hand-written letters to your closest friends and family members, simply thanking them for the many things they’ve done for you over the years. When you experience good service in a restaurant, express your thanks by posting a positive review online or offering a generous tip and personal note to your server. Slow down and inwardly praise the miracle of nature itself. Our world is one that is truly worth appreciating.
Engage in random acts of kindness.
Thankfulness for life’s bounty doesn’t need to be directed solely towards those that you know. Get engaged with a volunteer project or express gratitude through random acts of kindness. Smile at everyone you see on the street, even if you’re met with confused scowls. Post a few encouraging sticky notes in public places or inside popular books at a bookstore. Hold doors open for others, assist a stranger with a flat tire, treat a homeless individual to a meal, or provide a credible charity with an anonymous donation. By expressing kindness towards humanity as a whole, you’ll be making the world a better place.
When was the last time you expressed gratitude towards yourself? Many of us rarely consider this concept, acting hatefully rather than gratefully towards our own beings. Instead of falling into this trap, take some time to reflect on the ways in which you are grateful for yourself. Your body and mind have supported you and carried you throughout life. Your efforts and positive decisions have led to many successes. Celebrate these things! Treat yourself to something nice and set aside an afternoon to do something fun and self-indulgent. Speak kindly to yourself in the mirror and graciously accept compliments from others. Treat yourself well; you are worthy, just as you are.
Though starting a gratitude practice is fairly simple, sticking to it can sometimes be tricky. A bad or particularly exhausting day may leave you feelings as though you have nothing to be thankful for. If it helps you stick to your practice, consider publicly sharing the things that fill you with gratitude. Take a daily picture, for instance, and post it on your favorite social media site, describing in the caption your moments of thanks for the day. If you’re a more private person, simply journal your moments of gratitude or place a few notes in a “gratitude jar.” Whatever you choose to do, simply stick to it! You’ll soon find that gratitude has changed your life for the better.
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