'Tis the season for gratitude. The one day a year is coming, in the US, that's actually named for being thankful. And good gracious, I am. November's not just Thanksgiving time, it's also my birthday month. And through the magic of Facebook, I was blessed with so many loving greetings on my birthday, from friends who go back to first grade to wonderful people I've met in the past year. All people I know and love dearly. And for that, I'm so grateful. I'm grateful for the wonders of technology that allow us to connect to each other in all kinds of meaningful ways. I'm one of those people who loves to see pictures of your dog, your cats, your kids, your breakfast. I love seeing glimpses into the everyday lives of lovely humans around the world. And it's a clue about how to practice gratitude. It's about appreciating the little things, every day. Here are some easy tips to help you be thankful in all seasons: Practice daily gratitude: This is like eating fruits and veggies or doing yoga - it's not the same just thinking about it - you have to actually do it to gain the benefits. Try keeping a daily gratitude list that you write in the morning or the evening. Come up with ten things to be grateful each day, and try for originality. It's really valuable to write down your grateful items because then you can look back over them when you need a little boost. Don't forget to be grateful for yourself. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it's really valuable to remind yourself of things about you that you're grateful for. When you are loving and grateful to yourself, not in a creepy narcissistic way, but in an honest, caring way, it makes it so much easier for you to be loving and grateful toward others. So be grateful for how you handled a tough situation, or your sunny sense of humor, or your ability to fry a perfect egg. There's so much about you that's awesome!
Practice gratitude at meals.
You don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to share around the table what you're grateful for- you can make it a regular practice. We live in a culture that makes complaining the norm, and it's fun to turn that around and share all the wonderful things that you've noticed during your day. Which brings me to my absolute favorite gratitude practice...
Play the Everything's a Miracle game:
All the time, while you're living your life, keep that phrase in mind - "Everything's a miracle." You'll start to see the world differently. Sunshine, rain - all miracles. Birds, flowers, babies smiling, delicious food, something that surprises you - it's all a miracle. Even when things go wrong, search for the miraculous part - if we're still alive, it's pretty miraculous! Try it and you will surely feel grateful!
Write love letters:
Write love letters to people in your life who you are grateful for. They can be people you see every day or people you haven't seen in forever. Share with them what makes them special. Tell them how they've made a difference for you. Write one a day for a month. Don't overthink - even a short note is so special!
Have fun with random positive acts:
It's fun to share something happy and anonymous! Leave random positive notes in places where strangers might find them. Or pay it forward by taking care of the next person's drink order in the drive through coffee line. You never know how making someone else's day might set off some kind of wonderfully positive chain reaction! Again, thinking about this isn't the same as doing it. We've all heard of random acts of kindness - but actually doing them feels amazing!
ABC Gratitude list:
Here's one that my friends at our Thanksgiving celebration always do - they set up a couple of poster boards with the letters A-Z and then blank space next to each letter and everyone contributes to the list of things they're grateful for. By the end of the weekend, the list is full of people, places, experiences, foods, memories and more. All alphabetized! And it's something everyone can share!
. I love noticing the clouds, the flowers, the waves at the beach, my cat, sunsets, pretty drinks, and I love taking photos of them. When I use Instagram I see the world through a lens of beauty. Try taking a daily gratitude photo or two with your smartphone. It's another way to acknowledge and record your beautiful life!
Here's the truth: adding more gratitude to your life is easy, it's completely free and it makes you feel better
- and when you feel better that radiates out from you and affects others, so it helps the whole world! And that is something to be grateful for!