It’s tough to feel grateful when everything around us seems to be crumbling. This year in particular has felt especially challenging. From existential fear about our health, to stress over finances, to political and civil outrage – we have had our dose of feeling let down. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still feel grateful. In fact, practicing gratitude has never been more important.
Here’s the deal: we have enough negative things to focus on. We can spend all of our days ruminating on how this year treated us poorly, or how things just didn’t go our way. Every single one of us has darkness in our lives. Which is why it’s essential to ALSO focus on the positive. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean we ignore the darkness – it just means we find space to feel incredibly thankful for the positives in our lives that we do have.
So, we have compiled five steps on how to efficiently practice gratitude early and often. We also have a video of Coach Elise going over her tips – so if you prefer to watch, click below!
Take Time to Reflect
Practicing gratitude is not something that happens in five seconds. Sure, you might have pangs of overwhelming gratitude whenever you look at how cute your kitten is, or whenever the grocery store has the item you’ve been searching for – but otherwise, it takes time to sit and reflect in order to make this work.
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So find some quiet time in the morning or evening, and reflect on anything and everything you feel grateful for. Think about your ability to move your body, the friends you keep, the biological or chosen family you surround yourself with, and what you provide to the world. Think of the little things, think of the big things, and everything in between. There are no wrong answers. As long as you reserve some dedicated space for it, you are on the right track.
Write Five Things Down Per Day
The key to learning how to practice gratitude is to be consistent. While five things per day might seem like a lot in the beginning, with each day, it will become easier and easier.
You’ll discover so many new things you’re grateful for that didn’t even cross your mind weeks ago. I find that most people start to discover pleasure in the little things — the fact that the sun is shining in the morning, or that a sore muscle finally healed, or that they have something on their schedule that day.
Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to consist of lofty opportunities in your life. Your life might actually be in shambles right now (been there), but I promise that you can find five things to be grateful for.
If you’re struggling – start with the basics. Health (you are alive as you write down your list!), shelter (you are hopefully in a safe space), people (think of one person there for you right now), motivation (you are currently trying to practice gratitude – cheers to you), and opportunity (it can only go up from here, girl).
Write a Gratitude Letter to Someone Else
We love this quote from Ed Mylett, “The antidote to feeling helpless is helping others.”
Same goes for practicing gratitude. The antidote for feeling ungrateful, is to feel grateful for others.
Pick someone, anyone, who has had an impact on your life, and let them know. Detail how you feel about them, what you learned from them, how they made you feel, and how you value them. Shower them with love, thanks, and affirmations. Practicing gratitude when it comes to others is just as important as practicing it when it comes to ourselves. Gratitude keeps our relationships strong and healthy.
And, once you have gone through the list of impactful people in your life, I have another idea.
Hot take: You can write a gratitude letter to someone who hurt you.
Seriously – feel free to write gratitude letters to your enemies and haters. Let them know how thankful you are for their presence in your life, because without them, you wouldn’t be half as strong.
And then burn that letter because we don’t need to be reaching out to assholes.
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Try to Find The Silver Linings and Lessons
This leads us into our fourth tip for practicing gratitude – finding the lessons and silver linings along your journey.
Even if it’s been quite a shit journey.
I don’t mean to be negative, but after 2020, I can’t sit here and pretend like everyone has these incredible, goal driven, productive years. But regardless if you’ve had an amazing year or if this year has been crap – I can promise you that you’ve learned a lot along the way. Especially those of you who haven’t had it very easy.
So now is the time to think about everything you’ve learned from these challenges. This is not something that you need to do every day – but I think once a week would be a great start. Think about what you’ve faced this week – whether it was painful or exciting – and what you’ve learned. Feeling grateful for the challenges in your life will help you keep up a positive attitude and not be as afraid of pain in the future.
The more grateful you can feel for your setbacks, the more appetite for risk – and reward – you’ll have.
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Give Yourself Credit
Now comes the finale.
It’s time to feel grateful for YOU.
For your resilience. For your persistence. For your dedication to be better. For your tenacity in life – no matter what this world throws at you. For your attitude and your character. For just being you.
Think about it. You’re sitting here trying to learn how to practice gratitude on a routine basis. If that doesn’t deserve some sort of credit – what does?!
As often as you can, give yourself some credit. Remind yourself that you have survived every single day of your life, and let that gratitude pour in. You are stronger, better, and braver than you were yesterday, whether you feel it or not.
You go girl.