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There is just something about Fall that really gets me thinking about thankfulness and ways that I can be more thankful in my own life.
Maybe it’s because summer is finally giving way to cooler temps and beautiful days. Or because the mad rush of spring and summer has finally slowed and there is time to take a moment, breathe and appreciate. Maybe it’s just because Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we feel almost obligated to be thankful on thanksgiving.
Whatever the reason, having a grateful spirit should not just belong to Fall.
Did you know that studies show that those people who have and express gratitude live longer, happier lives? Not making that up. You can read up on some of those studies at https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.
According to these studies; people who practice gratitude regularly experience more positive emotions, meaning they are happier. They have better health with fewer doctor visits and tend to be more active. Gratitude between partners or spouses has been shown to improve those relationships and gratitude can even improve your relationships with your co-workers or employees.
So, what exactly is gratitude or thankfulness?
As a kid growing up in the South, gratitude meant saying thank you. For everything. And Heaven help you if you forgot to say thank you. Because mama’s glare was enough to cut down a bull buffalo at 500 yards. A southern kid didn’t stand a chance.
But a quick thank you, while polite, is not the same as being thankful.
Thankful is a choice. It is a decision that you make every day to appreciate and be glad for something in your life.
Sometimes finding gladness or appreciation can be tough. especially if you aren’t in the habit of looking for it. We all have a tendency to let the bad days, the deadlines, the things we didn’t get done or the things we failed at pile up until that is ALL we can see.
We become buried under such a huge pile of our own negativity and feelings of inadequacy that we forget to look around for the things bring joy into our lives.
Big things like family, health, a job that pays the bills. Little things like a beautiful sunset after a rough day, a first bloom, a happy baby or even just a cool breeze on a blazing hot afternoon.
If all we focus on are the negatives in our lives, we are setting ourselves up for at best, mediocrity and at worst, total misery.
So how can we cultivate a grateful spirit?
We have to find ways and moments to create gratitude. And there are probably hundreds of ways to do that, some more involved than others. Below are some of the ways that I try to cultivate gratitude in my own life: 8 simple ways to be thankful everyday.
1. Be thankful for something, every day!
Sounds kind of stupid simple doesn’t it? But it isn’t always as easy as you’d think. Especially on the hard days.
Strive to be thankful for something everyday. Not just on occasion or at Thanksgiving, but every day. You don’t have to over think this, there is no pop quiz. Be thankful for a beautiful evening or that your children made it home safe and sound from school. Be thankful that your husband wasn’t injured at work or that you were able to talk with your mom for a bit. Around here we are all thankful when I don’t set the smoke detector off while cooking.
In southern speak, ‘Honey, you better count your blessings.’ -Southern Women Everywhere
2. Be a have, not a have not.
This goes hand in hand with being thankful. Be aware and thankful of the blessings that you have in your life. Don’t focus on the things you lack or think you lack. For example, if you come home and feel gratitude that your family all made it home safe from their day’s activities but then turn around and feel misery over the fact that the neighbor has a new car and yours is a 15 year old clunker, you are missing the point.
It is human nature to want the things we don’t have. And that is okay, we all suffer from it. Want is what drives us to work harder and do better for ourselves and our families. The problem is when we forget to appreciate the things we already have in our lives and only focus on what we don’t have.
Be thankful for that clunker car. Hey, it’s most likely paid for and you don’t have to wash it as often. Be thankful that you have the opportunity to change your circumstances if you so choose tomorrow. You’ll probably find that the new car isn’t all that high on your priority list anyway.
3. Be expressive in your gratitude.
Show others gratitude. Not only will it improve their day, it will improve your own. Thank your co-worker or barista or the guy who held the door for you.
Say thank you to your spouse.
Sometimes we forget exactly how much our spouses do for us. Especially when we are on our 12th load of laundry, dinner burned again and hubs is watching tv in the recliner. Say it anyway because it will remind you that hubs got up before daylight and worked in 100 degree heat all day and still came home and helped you feed up the animals so you wouldn’t have to do it in the dark. And only cracked a couple of jokes about charcoal for dinner. Again.
That example might be based on real life. Just saying.
4. Share your thankful spirit with your children.
Tell them what you are thankful for and ask them to do the same for you. Find creative ways for your kids to express their gratitude.
If you are like most of the rest of us parents and still can’t find the owner’s manual kids should come with; check out Kristen Welch’s book on “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World.” Ya’ll I was hooked at the boot story. Seriously a good read.
5. Take a breather.
Just stop. Take 5 minutes to be still and reflect. Sometimes we just forget to be grateful because we are so busy doing everything else. So stop doing and just take a moment to think about things you are grateful for.
6. Keep a gratitude journal.
This could be a simple note about something you are grateful for in your planner or farm journal. Or you can go a step further and use a journal specifically for developing gratitude as a daily habit. I particularly like this one.
Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal Paperback – September 16, 2017
by Pretty Simple Press (Author)
7. Give back.
8. And last but not definitely not least, Pray.
It’s hard not to be thankful when you realize that everything you have is because of God’s graciousness.
Pray and say thanks. Some days for me that is just saying thank you for family or jobs or whatever. Some days it is because we had a good day. And some days it is for the strength and patience to get through the bad days.
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was “thank you” that would suffice. Meister Eckhart
If you want to be more intentional try using a devotional or prayer journal to help you develop daily prayer and gratitude.
Daily Gratitude Journal with Bible Verses: 1 Year | 52 Weeks of Gratefullness, Daily Practices and Reflections – Exercise Your Happiness Daily Paperback – November 8, 2018
by GreatPress (Author)
A thankful spirit can take time to cultivate and grow, especially if we aren’t in the habit of being grateful. Try these 8 simple ways to be grateful everyday and it won’t be long before you have changed your mindset and cultivated your own thankful spirit.
What are some things you are doing in your own life to cultivate a thankful spirit? What moment of gratitude really sticks out in your mind? Comment below and let me know.