Having a daily gratitude practice can help you stay positive when you’re stressed, find comfort in times of uncertainty, and lead to a healthier outlook but how many of us actually take the time to start and maintain this practice?
I tried it once and I think I failed at maintaining it because of “the rules.” I needed a journal. I needed to take the time to do it every day. As a person who actually likes structure, I thought this would work for me but it didn’t. And I so wanted it to! I wanted to be that person who could effortlessly write down what I was grateful for because I do in fact have so much that is dear and meaningful to me.
About a month ago I decided to try again and this time decided to make my own rules. I decided not to journal, not to pressure myself on when I would be mindful of gratitude, and just see what worked for me. And that made all the difference.
Here’s how I’m doing it:
I thank the Universe for each new day when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning. This helps me start my day on a positive note and reminds me that even though yesterday may have been a stink bomb, today is a new day and with that a new opportunity for great things to happen.
I think about gratitude when I’m doing chores. Washing dishes and vacuuming are two things I’d rather not do but it’s easy to be grateful for them when I think about those who don’t have food to eat, dishes to eat off of, or are homeless. Sometimes the mundane things we dislike doing are actually blessings waiting to be recognized and appreciated.
I take time to check in with what I’ve accomplished at the end of each day. Before I put my planner away for the day I review what I’ve accomplished. In addition to what I wanted to get done, I also look for the unexpected. Did I learn something new? Did I have an aha moment? Did I come up with a cool idea? Something as simple as a few hours of uninterrupted work is sometimes the most exciting thing that happens to me some days.
Starting and maintaining a gratitude practice is about recognizing that you have the choice to be grateful each moment and then consciously calling your attention to those moments. If that means journaling each day at a certain time, starting your day with a toothpastey smile, or simply giving thanks quietly as you do dishes, make up your own rules and notice how being grateful for even the smallest of things can help you feel more peaceful and grateful for what you have.