We spend a lot of time complaining. We all do it. We love to find something wrong with everything. But what if we took one complaint a day and flipped it into a positive? What if we tried to see the good in everything instead of the bad? How would this completely change your life, your mindset, and your overall happiness? Time - there's never enough. We constantly seek out more ways to increase our time, spend our time, and find things to fill up our time. But do we ever take the time to simply be grateful for what we have in our lives at this very moment? Do we remind ourselves every day of at least one thing that we are grateful for? Instead of spending 2 minutes complaining about the drive through line at Starbucks (guilty!), do we take those 2 minutes to appreciate that we even have the money in our account to purchase an overpriced (yet, delicious) grande iced shaken espresso? Chances are, we completely miss the opportunity to be grateful for income, financial stability, and/or employment.
These 5 techniques are things I use with my clients but that can also be incorporated as a simple gratitude practice every day.
#1: Starting a Gratitude Journal:
While this idea might seem trendy, it's exceptionally powerful. There are now dozens of different "gratitude journals" on the market that include prompts, inspirational quotes, and organized agendas to incorporate daily gratitude. The Five Minute Journal is a very popular one on Amazon and one that I have used personally. But a gratitude journal is more than just a fancy notebook; it's a powerful way to take a few minutes out of your morning and a few minutes before bed to remind yourself of all that you have to be thankful for. Maybe a random person bought your coffee for you this morning or maybe your kid finally said thank you after you dropped them off at a friend's house. Whatever it is, writing down your gratitudes helps to focus on the positives of your day, instead of the ways your day went wrong. A good tip is to keep the journal by your bedside so you remember to write in it before you get out of bed in the morning and before you go to sleep at night. There are popular gratitude journal apps that can be used directly on your phone such as Gratitude Journal and Three Good Things.
#2: Guided Meditation
If writing isn't your thing, but listening to podcasts or music feels more comfortable for you, try a guided meditation app and search for a meditation specifically about gratitude. I always recommend Insight Timer - it's one of the few apps that are free and have hundreds of themed meditations. Guided meditation is great for beginners as it offers you prompts to help you focus your thoughts and shift your awareness to the present moment, without you having to try to do it on your own. Try doing a guided meditation at night as it will also help improve your sleep hygiene.
#3: Return the Favor
Once you've identified some things that you are grateful for, focus your energy on that piece of gratitude for the day. For example, if you're grateful for the person in front of you who bought your coffee at Starbucks, return the favor for the person behind you. If you are grateful that your partner switched over the laundry for you because you got home late from work, return the favor the following day. Reciprocating gratitude is a way to keep it alive and thriving in your daily practice.
#4: Checking In With Complaints
We are all tempted to complain throughout our day, whether it be about traffic, a colleague at work, lack of sleep because your toddler won't sleep through the night, the Starbucks coffee line, the DMV, and of course the list goes on and on. Reframe the complaints and think about the positives: traffic means people are thriving, maybe construction is going on to improve roads and bridges (at least that's the cause here in RI); your colleague at work might be having a difficult time in their personal lives and it's affecting their work, invite them to coffee; enjoy your toddler's snuggles and cuddles while they last because they grow up too fast; Check in with your complaints; are they facts or feelings? Can they be reframed and looked at from a different perspective? 99% of the time they can.
#5: Simply Saying Thank You
We don't say thank you enough. Whether it's to the universe, to your Starbucks barista, or to a parent, a child, a friend, or a partner, we simply don't say thank you enough and we don't recognize the impact it can have on someone to hear themselves being appreciated for simply being who they are. Maybe call a parent, or a grandparent, and thank them for raising you. Maybe it's calling your friend to thank them for paying for your coffee or dinner the last time you went out. Maybe it's letting your partner know how thankful you are for them being in your life. Two simple words can make all the difference.
If you haven't noticed, I am very grateful for Starbucks these past couple of weeks, as it's helped me get through some long days and busy schedules. I am also very grateful for my husband, who is the postman, the Uber driver, the laundry service, the cleaning service, the cook, and the instacart delivery driver who makes my life as seamless as possible when my schedule is jam packed. Most importantly, I am also thankful for the opportunity to share my writing and all of the wonderful services we have to offer at Shine the Light. And I can't thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to read, book, and spend your self-care time at our wellness center. Take a moment to thank yourself for prioritizing your physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health.
Grateful for you all,