Despite the thanks-centered holiday that kicks off the winter season, it can be hard to be grateful during these months. Too much to do, too little time. Too much to buy, too little money.
All the stress and hassle can take away the potential power of gratitude, an emotion we all can muster with a little practice.
Here are four steps to increase gratitude in yourself and your kids.
1. Start thanking people. Think about all the people in your daily life who show you kindness. Maybe it’s the clerk at the coffee shop who has your regular order down pat, or a teacher who takes extra time to help your child. When you encounter these people, say “thank you”— and mean it, don’t just toss it out as another way to say “goodbye.” Where appropriate, write a note or give a small gift telling these people how they brighten your day. You’ll get a lift by boosting them, and they’ll know their kindness is appreciated.
2. When your brain focuses on the negative, steer it back to the positive. If you’re not accustomed to positive thinking, it can be very hard to change your philosophy. But like all skills, it’s one you can practice. If something bad happens, it’s natural to be upset. But try to remind yourself of the good things you have and the way life can change for the better.
3. Take time to think — and even write — about your gratitude. You’re busy. But there’s probably a time in the day where you have five minutes to reflect. Maybe it’s in the shower or in line at the grocery store. Spend this time thinking about the things for which you are thankful. They can be “important” things, like your spouse, or seemingly silly things, like the return of your favorite TV show. Some people keep “gratitude journals” and write down a few things each day they appreciate.
4. Focus outward. It’s a simple truth that helping others makes you feel better. So find ways to forget about yourself and your problems for a few moments and look for ways to ease someone else’s burden.
This could be as simple as calling a friend and asking about her week, or offering an elderly neighbor a ride to the store. Of course, more formal volunteer work is great too, and a good way to count your blessings while making the world a bit better.
Visit BaptistHealth.com and type “volunteer” in the search bar.