Busyness can be one of the greatest enemies to gratitude. When faced with incessant demands and miniature crises that pull us in a million different directions, it becomes all too easy for us to descend into indifference and even outright pessimism. Too often, we flit from task to task without taking moments to pause, ponder, and appreciate the good that surrounds us.
Fortunately, gratitude always remains within our grasp. By reorienting our thoughts from what drains and discourages us to what enlivens and energizes us, we begin to develop a mindset of thankfulness, which in turn inspires greater happiness and purpose.
Gratitude is contagious. Not only does it better our personal well-being; it encourages others to adopt a posture of thankfulness, as well.
Season your day with gratitude by embracing the following disciplines:
Write it down.
In the moments that you’re battling apathy or exasperation, grab a notepad and jot down a list of people, places, experiences, etc., that bring joy to your life. Instead of fixating on your momentary frustration, focus on the good that awaits on the other side.
- Each time you practice this, try to think of new things to include. Look to blessings past, present, and future for inspiration. Compile your lists into a journal of some kind, so that you’ll be able to refresh your memory from time to time.
Begin each day on the right foot.
Instead of dreading what lies ahead of you, think of three things you’re looking forward to --- the sight of your loved one at the breakfast table, that comforting cup of coffee on the drive to work, your dinner tonight with old friends.
- Pose the right questions to yourself, right from the start. Rather than asking yourself how the coming day could get any worse, think about the opportunities that lie ahead, whom you’re excited to see, and what little victories you’re excited to achieve.
Keep your senses open to life’s everyday wonders.
In my experience, one of the greatest antidotes to negativity is a short walk outside. Look around you and delight in the marvels that we often ignore --- the beauty and scent of spring blossoms, the symphony of a breeze rustling through leaves, the vast expanse of our blue sky. It helps me to keep my “big” problems in perspective when I pause to consider my relative smallness.
Be the good you wish to see.
If you find that the world around you is lacking in positivity and compassion, be a part of the solution. Lead by example in how you serve those around you and care for the least of these.
- Never underestimate the power of a simple gesture of kindness. Compassion has a ripple effect, engendering gratitude in the hearts of all individuals involved.
Begin a visual record.
When you stumble upon something or someone in your day that uplifts you, consider snapping a picture to serve as a reminder of the good when you’re suffering from discouragement. If you’re active on social media, perhaps share the photo along with a concise caption that captures the reason for your gratitude. Doing so may cause others to do the same.
Hold on to “warm fuzzies” for future encouragement.
It’s a term I borrow from my mom, who firmly believes that saving any notes of affirmation or acclamation (“warm fuzzies”) from others is indispensable for the cloudy days.
- If you ever feel disheartened or underappreciated, return to these tidbits of encouragement to be reminded of your positive impact.
- An uplifting year-end practice is to look back at the “warm fuzzies” you’ve received in the last twelve months and take inventory of the good you’ve helped to generate for the past year. It’s a simple ritual that’s sure to bring a smile to your face and a boost to your spirits.
Gratitude is perhaps the greatest weapon we have in the battle against weariness and discontentment. For all its benefits to you and all whose paths you cross, make it a daily discipline to express, and inspire, gratitude. For more ideas, check out our 31-Day Gratitude Challenge.