It’s never to early or late in the year to give thanks.
It’s time for a pop quiz! True or false? You can only practice gratitude on Thanksgiving. Hopefully, you answered FALSE, because it is always a good time to practice and express gratitude for yourself and others. Most people associate the word “practice” with things that are hard to do. For example, practicing mindfulness is difficult, because you are requiring yourself to focus only on the present moment. And let’s be real, it is easy to let your mind wander. Similarly, in yoga classes, teachers ask their students to focus on their breath. This is also hard to do because practicing your breath is extremely difficult. Your muscles are shaking, and all you want to do is pant. But, even when practicing something is hard or tedious, it’s important that we keep trying. Just like breathing in yoga and in your mindfulness practice, you can also practice gratitude.
Here are 7 of the easiest ways to expand your gratitude practice.
1. Write A Thank You Note
For many, there is nothing better than receiving a thank you note in the mail — so, get writing. Send a thank you note to a loved one and tell them how much they mean to you. If they helped you with something specific, let them know how appreciated their help was. Or, if you’re sending a note to an old teacher or boss, tell them how they have influenced your life and shaped you into the person you have become.
As I mentioned earlier, meditating is extremely difficult for a lot of people, myself included. However, it is possible. Try using a guided meditation app, such as the Headspace app, if you need extra help getting started. Meditating for 5 to 10 minutes each day is probably the best way to show gratitude to yourself, because you are giving yourself time to reflect on your life, all while focusing on your breathing.
3. Get A Gratitude Journal
Easy? Yup. Head to the store and buy a journal that you’ll be inspired to write in. Then, jot down 3 things you are grateful for each and every day. You’ll be surprised at how easy it’ll be to add things to the list.
4. Perform A Body Scan
Our bodies are pretty amazing. Sure, sometimes we get sick but, for the most part, our bodies are there for us and support us in our daily lives. So, next time you’re lying on the couch, wiggle your feet and say “thank you for helping me walk.” Then move on to other body parts, such as your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
It is important that we learn how to breathe. Of course we breathe naturally — thank you, lungs, but taking purposeful deep breaths is a whole other thing. It is important to take deep breaths whether you’re feeling stressed or perfectly calm. When you learn to control your breath, you are also practicing your mindfulness.
6. Recognize And Appreciate Others
If someone does something that is helpful to you, let them know that their act does not go unappreciated. If a co-worker helps you on a project you’re working on at work or a grocery store clerk helps you find the food item you were looking for, let them know! Trust me, everyone loves to feel like they’ve been helpful
7. Take A Second Before You Eat
We are so lucky to have food to eat, aren’t we? Take a moment or two to silently thank those who played a role in the meal you’re about to eat, such as the farmers and the preparers of your meal. If that happens to be you, thank yourself.