Why Practice Gratitude?
How to Practice Gratitude
Think about something you are grateful for in the moment. Close your eyes and think of that time. What comes up for you? Where do you feel it in your body? Do you feel warmth spreading across your chest, or some other part of your body? Do you feel lighter and easier? Perhaps a specific scent comes to mind when you think of that time. Take time to sit with these warm feelings. My guess is your mood will improve.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, gratitude seems like an appropriate topic. What does your family Thanksgiving look like? My hope is that it is filled with wonderful traditions and warm memories. Even if some weren’t the greatest, my guess is that there were some really good times.
Those traditions are something to be grateful for. You may not think you have many traditions, but my guess is that you have more than you realize. For instance, who cuts the turkey? In many families this job is relegated to one person. Does someone typically cook the turkey? Does someone make the best stuffing, pumpkin pie, or sweet potatoes? Perhaps your family changes locations. Even so, maybe others bring a dish and have a traditional dish that they bring.
In addition to food, another tradition may be, what you do for the day. Do you go outside and play football, or watch games on TV. Do you watch the Macy’s Day Parade? Perhaps you do puzzles or play board games. Are you helping in the kitchen all day? Maybe some people cook and others clean up later.
Does you family have a special tradition for what you do at the meal? Maybe everyone goes around the table and says something they are grateful for. Perhaps you have other traditions you do at the table.
There are many things to be grateful for. What about the people at the table? Many families have several generations of people. Maybe you are lucky enough to have your parents or grandparents alive. You may only see these people once a year, or a few times a year at holiday times. Do you have a special person that you look forward to seeing?
Ways to Practice Gratitude
Here are some additional ways that you may practice gratitude. Some people have a gratitude journal. Every day they write at least 1 thing they are grateful for. If you think about it, when you look for the small things to be grateful for, they are all over the place. For example, did someone let your car in, while in traffic? Maybe someone smiled at you or opened the door for you. They don’t have to be major things to count.
Another idea is to have a gratitude wall. Whenever you have something to be grateful for, you can write it on a sticky note. Then put that sticky note on the wall. Soon you will have a wall filled with sticky notes.
I even heard of someone having a gratitude tree. They painted a tree trunk with branches on their wall. Then they bought leaf shaped sticky notes and filled their tree. You can even have friends add sticky notes to your tree or wall.
Perhaps you can even share with your partner or family members’ one thing you love or appreciate about them on a daily basis. Maybe you could do this at your family dinner, or right before going to bed. Who wouldn’t want to hear that? Imagine what it may do for your relationship(s).
The nice thing about having a gratitude journal or wall is that you have something to look at when you are having a rough day. Perhaps you are feeling sad or blue. Looking at your wall and remembering some of the things you are grateful for may help change your mood.
If you struggle with the holidays, as they weren’t filled with wonderful memories, or have a hard time when you are about to see family members, please give me a call at 713-304-6554.
Debbie Grammas, PhD